Thursday, May 23, 2024

The Prayer Closet

His small business was robbed.

Neighbors saw him, day after day, selling items on social media.  Shoes and clothes were offered on a corner, just blocks from his home.  Transactions were going smoothly until the snatch and grab.

Buyers pretended to purchase but drove off without paying.  Rather than run after the vehicle, the vendor calmly pulled a handgun and started shooting.  Neighbors heard the rounds and called the police.  

He ran but more 911 tips were reported. His hiding places disappeared one-by-one.  A brief foot chase placed him facedown, yards from home.  Searched and handcuffed, into the cruiser he went.

His mother had no idea and thought he was in his room.  Her anguished moan sounded like her prayers abutting his free will.  She wanted the best for him and was hurt.  He was selling the clothes she worked so hard to purchase and carrying a gun about which she knew nothing. 

On the ride, a close look at the shooter stirred compassion.  Gun charges; officers counting the rounds; stray bullets embedded in neighboring houses; jail.  A child riding to jail.

Rewinding the clock, or mentoring on the spot, were impossibilities.  Chaplains control very little on emergency calls; we ride along.  As we rode downtown, I began to pray.

"Speak Holy Spirit."

Up the elevator and into the processing area, police business continued.  There was nothing to do but sit with him.  I sat with a 14-year old while officers typed reports and the air chilled.

I was praying and so were some of you.

Prayer is asynchronous.  If we pray for unborn children, and die before they're born, those prayers can still be answered.  God is posthumously answering great-grandparents' prayers for progeny.  You were absent from the jail, asleep or in different time zones, but your prayers were very present.

Thank you for remembering the chaplaincy in prayer. 

Because you pray, a Christ follower sat with a child while adults worked.  Fingerprints, photos and reports were handled elsewhere in the building.  Seeing no one his age got his attention and the jokes he was cracking began to catch in his throat.  As he sobered, there was nothing to do but sit and pray.

Thank you for praying alongside.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. ~ Romans 8:26

His mother groaned.  Prayer was needed because he had no idea of the serious turn his life was taking.  

The Holy Spirit intercedes because we too have no idea of what's really at stake in our daily walks.  

Officers let me stay with him throughout processing.  He was segregated from adults in the jail, always in sight of corrections officers.  When all the paperwork was done, he was transported from the jail to the juvenile detention facility.

"Do you know anyone in here?"  the juvenile detention officer asked.


Children began gathering to see the new boy.  He looked at me before entering a space where people may or may not have been praying for him.

Speak Holy Spirit. 

Thank you for praying. 


  1. Appreciate this story Alex--even more your Jesus-presence with this child in a story far too frequent in our fallen world.

    1. Appreciate your running alongside the storytelling... Together we're trusting Jesus to change lives.

  2. Alex, yes the prayers of the righteous availeth much. I pray for this young man and for his mother. It is my prayer to our heavenly Father that there may be correction more than harsh punishment. Again thanks for providing insight into how someone enters a police cruiser, the juvenile system and our prayers. Sincerely, Steven.

    1. Steven, Thank you for reading and for praying. Your cry to the Father is heard by faith. If we ever needed people praying, it's now. May the Holy Spirit continue strengthening your Christian witness. You're appreciated!