Lessons From Da Bronx – Day 5


Sacrilegious.

Had to be. I had never heard of such a thing – praying with your eyes open. My obvious subconscious prayer rational has always been to assume the proper position before praying to God – head bowed and eyes closed. Admittedly, I’ve done my share of peeking during group prayers, you know, just to see who was actually spiritual and had their eyes closed.

But this morning, before we set out on our morning ministry, our team received some vital instruction. Today we met a Relief Bus in a park somewhere in the middle of Da Bronx. The park and surrounding blocks were war-torned with drugs. Our mission was to divide our 12-member team into groups of 4. Group one was to serve the soup and lemonade from the bus to the lines of the hungry. Group 2 would work the tables set up next to the bus, handing out clothes, Bibles, and shelter information. Group 3 would canvas the surrounding blocks with flyers announcing our free services back at Roberts Park.

The “sacrilegious” instructions? When we would pray with those we would minister to, do so with open eyes. You must always be aware of your surroundings. Weird. I mean really weird…could God really hear my prayers if I didn’t assume the proper position? It was then, at that moment that I realized the extent of my religiosity…and it felt sickening. It wasn’t more than 5 minutes into our setup that I had the opportunity to pray with Clive, a homeless man who was consumed with his addictions. I placed my right hand on his shoulder, instinctivley bowed my head and closed my eyes and began to pray. A few words into my prayer I was jolted back to my local by a passing siren. Lifting my head and opening my eyes, I struggled though the remainder of the prayer. Over the following 4 hours I got more comfortable with this new prayer position.

I’m still not sure why God had to send me to the streets of NYC to remind me of this lesson in my walk, but he used Clive and the rawness of Da Bronx to teach me that He is more concerned with the position of my heart than He is with the outward expressions of my prayers.

So the next time I’m in church and I happen to open my eyes during a corporate prayer and see someone else with their eyes open – Lord help me.

Open the eyes of my heart Lord…

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