On Sunday afternoon, February 13, I travelled to Crossroads Mall to walk with the Holy Spirit in prayer. I was disappointed, but not surprised, that no one joined me on this adventure in prayer. It proved to be a very interesting experience as well as time spent in prayerful communion with God.
As I pulled into the parking lot I was a bit taken aback at how busy the mall was. I have never seen Crossroads this busy, except perhaps just before Christmas. This day before Valentine’s Day found the mall abuzz with activity. It was a bit overwhelming as I wondered how I would ever be able to focus on anyone particular person or situation for prayer.
I began my walk on the upper level of the mall overlooking the children’s play area. From this point I had a bird’s eye view of much of the mall. As I leaned against the protective rail my body tingled all over which I interpreted as a leading to stay put in that spot for some time.
Immediately below me was the children’s play area. Most of the children were playing rough and tumble games, running etc. However, one little girl, perhaps eight or nine years old, stood apart from the others leaning against the wall.Perhaps she was merely too old for the playground, but she was the first person I prayed for. A toddler ran out of the playground to his mother sitting on a bench nearby, crying in pain. The mother enfolded him in her arms and comforted him. I prayed God would enfold her with the same comfort and peace. As the toddler went happily back to the playground, the mother turned to his older brother who then sat down on the floor beside her. A time out, I supposed, for hitting or hurting his brother. I prayed God would provide guidance and discipline for this woman even as she did so for her children.
Near me was an open store front where a massage therapist has set up business. With all the activity and noise going on around us she sat alone in a dark corner of her space looking rather forlorn. I thought about what this business might mean to her: her source of income? Self-worth? An opportunity to get out of debt? I prayed for her in her need.
Walking around a bit I stopped and glanced down at the play area again. The same little girl I had prayed for earlier now sat on a bench inside the playground, holding a younger, similarly dressed girl close to her. Both children looked sad and alone, lost in this land of play and noise. I could identify no adult with them. I do not know what circumstances brought them there, but I knew I must continue to pray for them and certainly did.
Walking now I happened upon a physically disabled man walking with his walker and a slow unsteady gait toward the elevator. Another man was “with” him, perhaps a staff person, but walked at least five paces in front of him and did not speak to him. I thought of our focus on persons with disability in church this morning and prayed fervently for this man that he might be treated with dignity and genuine respect.
At the other end of the mall I stopped and looked down again. This side of the mall did not seem as busy. My attention came to rest upon a bald man, 60 ish, a husband waiting for his wife to finish shopping I supposed. I was led to pray for him and the scripture came to mind that God has numbered the very hairs upon our head, so great is his love for and knowledge of us. It was impossible for me to know anything about this man, except that God loves him, so I prayed he might come to know that love more fully in his life. I prayed that his wife or others would esteem him and build him up and that through her love he might get a glimpse of the unconditional love of God for him. As I prayed the man looked up and directly at me, as if he knew I was looking at and praying for him. I had set out with the intention of doing this discreetly and certainly didn’t want anyone to feel as if they were being stalked or anything, so I averted my gaze, but kept right on praying.
I stopped by my favorite clothing store and visited with the clerk. She introduced me to her husband who had come in to help her climb up and down the ladder to set displays this afternoon. I affirmed him for doing this and silently praised God for him and his love for his wife.
In a large department store I prayed for a group of teenage boys who appeared to be looking for something, possibly trouble.
The jewelry stores were very busy! I prayed for couples obviously choosing engagement rings.
As I just listened to the sounds of families and customers around me I touched the very soft fabric of some little pink bathrobes. As I ran my hand over the second of these I was inexplicably moved to pray for the little girl who would one day wear this bathrobe. Will she be ill and in the hospital? Will she need safety and protection? I don’t know. The Holy Spirit does.
My walk ended back where it began, on the upper level overlooking the play area below. The two little girls I had prayed for were gone now. There were even more kids running and playing below, but all seemed to happily occupied. I glanced around and – surprise – the bald gentleman was sitting on a bench right beside me. This couldn’t be a coincidence, so I lifted him up to the Father again.
I began to slowly walk around the corner to head back to the food court and the parking lot. A woman stopped me and asked if I could give her directions to the nail salon. I did and offered to walk her there to make sure she found it. That’s when I noticed that the massage therapist had a customer.
Things I learned: We love our shiny baubles. We definitely equate love with money and things. These certainly are not new revelations, but the point was really driven home by spending an hour at the mall yesterday afternoon. Now, I have a few shiny baubles of my own, and they mean a great deal to me. It would be easy to be harshly critical of the emphasis on spending money and buying material goods to express our love on Valentine’s Day, but upon reflection I have a somewhat different take.
When a loved one has died people typically come to cherish things that belonged to them. A husband’s shirt, still retaining his scent, is taken to bed by his widow each night. Parents collect in a memory box the foot prints, birth certificate and blanket of the newborn that died in their arms. We call these things “linking objects”. They act much like the baptism shell, the chalice of wine or the loaf of bread that “link” us to the Holy. They are tangible reminders of intangibles: love, hope, faithfulness and more.
Perhaps one day the ring purchased by the newly engaged couple in Kay’s jewelers will be passed down to a grand-daughter, becoming the object that links her to all the cherished memories of her beloved grandmother and other family members.
We are spiritual beings. We are also physical beings. As a human-physical being I can appreciate the desire to show a loved one how much they mean to me by carefully selecting a tangible gift for them. As a spiritual being, I was touched – forever newly surprised by Our Great God – at how His Spirit led me through this adventure in prayer and even brought the same man to cross my path twice.
I would love to have you join me on my next prayer walk! Or take a prayer walk of your own.