How to pray for the homeless during the holiday season
Most of us love the holidays. I know I do. I love the weather. I love the spirit. I love the time I get to spend with family and friends. I love almost every aspect of this time of year.
It starts around Thanksgiving when we count our many blessings and gather with loved ones to give thanks and enjoy grand meals. Then, all the way up to Christmas time, we are thinking of the birth of Christ, the gifts we intend to give, the parties we have been invited to attend and the general busyness of the season.
This is a great time of the year! It's a time to reflect and rejoice. It's a time to give and receive.
But there is a very dark side to this time of year as well. (No, I'm not talking about the crazy consumerism that has clouded the true meaning of the holidays, although I could). For many, this time of the year is very hard. Depression comes to a head now and suicide rates rise.
For the more than 600,000 people who call the streets their home, the holidays are even more stressful and difficult. Some will spend the holidays all alone. Others will be surrounded by crowds in shelters, and yet feel all alone on the inside.
I believe that there is no greater time of the year to pray for the homeless than right now. They need the strength and help that only prayer can bring.
Here is how I am praying for the homeless during this holiday season.
1. I am praying for reconciliation
The term reconciliation simply means to be brought back together again. It means to renew a relationship and once again be a peace.
I am, of course, praying for reconciliation with God. And that is not specific to the homeless population. Every person that has ever been born was born separated from God because of sin. We all need to be reconciled to God and that only happens through a relationship with his Son, Jesus.
But I am also praying for reconciliation with family and friends. You see, many homeless people have lost the relationships that are most important in their lives. It is not uncommon for me to meet someone who has had no contact with their family for several years. Bridges have been burned and years have been lost.
Therefore I am praying for them to be reconciled to God if they are not and I am praying for their family relationships to bloom once again.
2. I am praying for provision
When you get involved in homeless ministry you quickly discover that needs abound. Sometimes I get completely overwhelmed with the thought of all the needs. If you have never dove in head first trying to rescue someone then this may be foreign to you. But there are mountains to be climbed. Steep ones.
Food, clothing, health care, rent, electricity, deposits, fines, licenses, documents, education, employment, and the list goes on and on.
I have learned that I cannot meet all of the needs of a person. As a matter of fact, that's not even how God designed it. We are instructed in the Lord's prayer to pray for provision. Give us this day our daily bread. God is our provider. He alone has everything we will ever stand in need of and He is well able to meet them.
This is without a doubt a prayer that we can pray for the homeless. We can pray for God to provide everything that they need on a daily basis. We can pray that each person looks to God first and finds their every need met in Him.
3. I am praying for encouragement
As I stated in the introduction, the holidays are tough for many of our homeless friends. Loneliness is very common and depression and discouragement is one of Satan's number one tactics.
One of the reasons for this is the overwhelming sense of loss. While everyone else gathers with their spouses, children, and family, it's hard not to feel the deep pain of personal loss. If you have lost a loved one, this is the hardest time of year. Holidays are like mile-markers on life's road.
But I also know that it is very possible for people to be encouraged during the holidays. Over the years I have witnessed many people who thought the end was imminent. They saw no hope in sight. But somehow, someway, the Lord brought encouragement to their hearts.
It is possible to have very little worldly goods but to have encouragement down in your heart! So I am praying that God would bring a spirit of encouragement and an understanding that true joy comes from God and God alone.
4. I am praying for a special blessing
I don't care who you are, we all need a special blessing every once in a while. Remember that unexpected note you received from a friend? What about that unexpected gift from an unlikely source that you enjoyed so much?
If a special unexpected blessing meant so much to you, just imagine the impact it might have on someone who is struggling through life.
This news story about a man who lives in a shelter having Thanksgiving with a family brought joy to me this week.
I am praying that each and every person who is homeless would receive a special blessing of some sort during the holiday season.
One more thought
As you are praying for the homeless, be sure and listen. You might just hear the voice of the Lord whisper to your heart. He may want YOU to be the answer to one of these prayers.