One highly intelligent young man got caught doing something he was ashamed of, something many more people get messed up in without getting caught. Because he was caught, he faced the prospect of jail. We weren’t sure if he’d do hard time or get off with a ‘slap on the wrist’, since it was his first offense. I met with him several times while he was awaiting trial.
He told me he enjoyed the love he felt within in our church community, the positive vibe, and that he felt a nice, peaceful feeling during our worship service. I asked him where he stood with Jesus and he told me sincerely that he had come from more of an agnostic viewpoint and wasn’t yet convinced of the reality of God.
I tried to suggest that Jesus was behind the love and positivity and that I believed the Holy Spirit was responsible for the sensation he felt during the worship service. I also took the opportunity to try to explain God’s grace. He politely listened. Finally, I asked if it was okay if I prayed with him before we went our separate ways.
As I prayed with him, his emotions were touched to the point of tears, which probably surprised him as much as me! I shouldn’t have been surprised. In First Corinthians, St. Paul teaches us: “The Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.”
As it turned out, my friend was convicted by the court and sentenced and I ended up visiting him in prison. After small talk he let me know how he had progressed in his beliefs. He told me that in discussions with other skeptical inmates, he stood up for the Bible as a source of Spiritual teaching.
Another young man had a problem with anger and addiction, another had identity and self-esteem issues. All of these guys were stirred, not by my words, but by God’s Spirit when they allowed me to pray with them. That’s just fine, because when it’s the middle of the night and temptation calls, I might not be available, but the Holy Spirit will be.