prayer on an empty stomach

October 6, 2009

Today was the world wide day of prayer.  Our schedule was praying from 9:30am to 3pm, with a couple breaks in between.  The thought of me praying for almost 5 and a half hours straight was a little daunting, as the ADHD in me tends to make me a little antsy at the thought of doing something for so long (minus video games).  The icing on the cake (that was the worst figure of speech I could use right now) was that someone told me the day before that we were encouraged to fast during that period.  Although I was a little reluctant, I decided that it would be a good idea.

It was an honor and privilege to be able to pray for the needs of people all over the world.  It’s no coincidence that a couple days ago I was reading Luke 11 and the disciples asked Jesus “how to pray”.  And now I know why.  To be honest with you, I was a little nervous since we were separated into small groups and my boss was in my group.  I was thinking of how I could make my prayers extra fancy so I could sound super spiritual around him (I hope he’s not reading this).  But then I realized how dumb I sounded.  When Jesus responded to his disciples, He recited only three sentences: praise, sustenance, and forgiveness.  Nothing fancy, just cutting straight to the point.  And now I’m speechless.

After 3:00, I realized the stupidity of drinking two cups of coffee on an empty stomach.  One of the staff warned me, but I ignored her.  Note to world: caffeine makes your head hurt.

Now it’s 8:33.  I haven’t eaten for over 20 hours.  My head hurts.  I glance at my clock to see how much time has past since I last checked, and it moves oh so slowly.  I am so hungry.  However, amidst all of this, I am reminded of several things.  I’m reminded that a majority of the world has to go through this each day.  There are so many things in life that I take for granted.  I can’t believe that I’m complaining over not eating for a day.  I know that by tomorrow I’ll have a meal to eat and I’ll totally forget about all my hunger.  However, I just can’t stop at that thought.  Just feeling bad for them doesn’t do anything for them but just strip them of their dignity.  Then I was reminded of Richie.  I want to share with you about Richie.

Richie is a homeless man whom I’ve grown to love and care for over the past couple years.  The first time I met him on the corner of a street in Chinatown, I tapped him in the shoulder and offered him a cup of coffee and a danish.  And then we chatted for a little bit.  And boy did he talk, he kept on talking on and on about everything he could think of, so much that I had to stop him or I would be late for my appointment.  Then I began to notice him at the same spot over and over again, and every time I saw him I would offer an ear for him to talk to.  Over the course of our friendship, what I have come to learn is that other than food, what the homeless want is dignity.  They want someone who they can talk to, someone that cares for them in this society that has so blatantly rejected them.  I can’t help but notice the awkward stares I get from people who pass by me as I sit down next to Richie.  It makes me think, when has it become so strange for people to care for other people?

One day I saw him reading from the bible and it peaked my interest.  I asked him what he was reading and he gave me a mini-sermon on faith.  Wait, what?  A homeless man was teaching me about faith?  He shared with me about having faith without sight, just like trusting a pilot on an airplane, you don’t really know the pilot but you are still going to trust him with your life.  I’ve listened to many powerful sermons in my life before about, some from famous pastors, but his topped all of them.  His message was fairly simple, but all together beautiful.  Here is a man who seemingly wasted his life, at first glance has nothing in life going for him, but in reality has it all and is teaching me about faith.  And I was humbled

The week before I left for Japan I went to NY to spend time with my family, but I made sure to stop by Richie (my extended family).  I got him his usual danish and bottled water (it’s too hot for coffee) and told him I would be leaving for a year to Tokyo. Normally, Richie would talk on and on about his week, but this time he kept it short.  He just looked in my eyes and said “Thanks for everything and  God bless you”.  I have learned SO much from Richie, it’s remarkable.  I am not sure how he’s doing now, but thinking about his well-being just reminds me of what he has taught me about faith.  Although I don’t get to see Richie anymore (at least for a year), I’m just going to have to trust and have faith that God is providing for him.  At least I know Richie is.

Over an hour after writing, and now my hunger doesn’t bother me as much.