I had a conversation the other day with a pastor friend who told me a story that he has given me permission to share. He was driving home from a conference he had been attending when another driver, not looking properly, sideswiped his car on a busy street.
Both my friend and the other driver were shaken up, as can happen even with a minor fender-bender, but neither of them was hurt. As is common in such difficult situations, they exchanged information. The other driver, who had admitted to it being her fault, wanted to attempt to get the repairs to my friend’s car made without going through insurance (and possibly pushing her rates up).
My friend told her he was a pastor, and that he had a Christian friend who is a mechanic who deals with people fairly and honestly, and that he might be able to give her a decent quotation on the cost of repairs to my friend’s car. (As it turned out, the quotation was higher than expected, and the lady opted to go through her insurance. Happily, she had a clause in her policy that had accident forgiveness!)
As my friend and the other driver were exchanging information and conversing, she was asking him about his church, and seemed interested in the Christian faith. All the while, my friend sensed the Holy Spirit saying to him, “You need to pray with her.”
He resisted, understandably, because it just seemed an odd time and an odd circumstance to pray with a stranger. But the more he resisted, the more clear the Holy Spirit’s prompting became: “You need to pray with her.”
So he said to her, “I know this sounds kind of weird, but can I pray for you?”
She consented. He prayed for her. And over the course of the next few days as they spoke on the telephone to get repairs looked after, she mentioned how she has a teenaged son that she wants to get engaged in a youth group.
She lives closer to a different church than my friend’s, and so she may end up taking her son there. Either way, it’s a win for God’s Kingdom.
But what if my friend had not been listening for the Holy Spirit to speak into his life, even in such an unusual situation as a car accident? Or what if he had continued to ignore the prompting of the Spirit to pray with the woman? Would she still be interested in the things of God?
It’s vital for all followers of Jesus – not just pastors, of course – to listen for the Spirit of God all the time. It’s a muscle that we need to exercise. After all, if we want to lift weights, we need to exercise the muscles that lift the weights. And if we want to hear from God, we need to exercise those spiritual muscles, too.
Read the Scriptures daily. When you pray, don’t do all the talking; sit in silence and let the Lord speak to you, through his Word and by his Spirit. Then, when you are out in the world, engaged in normal, everyday activities, who knows what God may say to you by his Spirit that could change someone’s life forever?
“Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given —and you will receive even more. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given” (Mark 4.24-25a, NLT).