November 30, 2012 (Bound4Life.com) - I was walking the public sidewalk in front of the abortion clinic on my usual Thursday afternoon lunch break, praying. The Planned Parenthood abortion center is tucked between a couple of apartment buildings and some older mansions that are being sluggishly reconstructed downtown. It’s not unusual that this side of the neighborhood is fairly quiet, excepting the common flow of traffic coming in and out of the abortion center.
I was by myself praying.
The traffic seemed to die down at the abortion center and so my eyes were looking up at the buildings as I prayed for Life to flow into our city. I stopped mid-prayer when my eyes fell on someone watching me from several hundred yards away sitting on the steps of an apartment building staircase. People staring at me praying isn’t too unfamiliar. I would wonder what was going on too, if I saw someone praying by themselves and walking the same sidewalk for an extended amount of time.
But something was different about this spectator. And right on time, like always, I felt the Lord nudge me forward, “Go on, go to him.” I wasn’t in a social mood. I just wanted to pray for the babies and moms and then go back to work. As I scanned the abortion center, I saw the parking lot was almost empty. I looked back towards the spectator and felt it again, “Go.”
I started walking and watched for his eyes until I saw the realization that I was walking towards him settle in. He was on his cell phone when I walked up and he politely covered up the mouth piece. He didn’t say a word and just waited to hear what I would say to him.
“Hi. I came over to see you if I could pray with you.”
“What?” He asked looking confused.
“I came over to see if I could pray with you.”
“Yeah, ok. Hold on one second.”
To my total amazement he told the person on the other line that he had to go and he would call them back in a few minutes. Clearly, the boy with the baseball cap with traces of smudged eyeliner on his lids from the night before was not afraid of the weird prayer girl. I don’t want to be the weird prayer girl nor do I like people thinking that of me. But what I do want to be is the prayer girl who follows when the Spirit leads and loves people like Jesus does. This was an amazing moment. The boy with the baseball cap and smudged eyeliner said “yes” to me praying with him. I couldn’t wait to see what God was going to do.
“So what’s your name?” I asked so we didn’t have to be total strangers.
“Israel,” He said matter of factly.
“Your name is Israel? Seriously?” I said in bewilderment.
“Yes,” he said, smiling now.
God had me leave the abortion center sidewalk to go and pray for Israel. I thought it was amusing, but at the same time, incredible. I was praying for Life to come into the city so God sent me one more city block down to pray for a life named Israel. He is God’s child, too, and needed prayer as much as the babies and parents across the street that day. It’s a gift to pray for Life and lay your hands on the shoulders of the person you’re praying for. It’s an intercessors dream come true.
I asked permission to place my hands on his shoulders and without knowing anything but his name and without him knowing anything about me but mine–Israel said it would be fine. I began asking God to show Israel the life that God had planned for him before the foundations of the earth. We prayed for Israel’s identity to be found and that Jesus would reveal Himself to Israel in a powerful way. We prayed for Israel’s gift of art, one of many gifts God placed inside of him. We prayed that the music Israel listened to when he draws would uplift, inspire and give life to him. And we thanked God for the perfect design of making Israel a man… that he was made a man on purpose, for a great purpose. That was the most powerful prayer of all.
My heart raced and tears plummeted as I echoed that prayer out of my mouth. Only to look up and see the man before me curled up with shoulders shaking and tears in his eyes, as well. When prayers like that hit that deep, it is important to repeat until you feel a peace. I kept speaking the beauty of Israel’s design. I kept thanking God for Israel being a man. It was one of the most strikingly simple and powerful prayers I’ve ever had the honor of praying.
When we finished praying, Israel thanked me. I asked if I could have his number not to bother him but text him so encouragement from time to time. Now, I don’t usually do this but again felt a peace in my request. He thankfully agreed and we exchanged phone numbers. And every once in a while for a year, when I thought of Israel, I said a prayer for him and sent him an encouragement. Mostly, I never got a response. But I think of Israel almost every time I go to that Planned Parenthood abortion center. God reminds me that my prayers of Life go beyond the womb, beyond the abortion clinic workers, beyond the moms and dads, and beyond government. My prayers of Life are for every human life, in every situation, and in every battle.
That was two years ago this fall and while I was sitting on the couch a month ago, I received a text from my friend.
“Natalie? I don’t think you remember me but my name is Israel.”
He has no idea the impact his precious life has made on mine. But Israel told me how much praying together that day impacted his life.
“I’ll lead you to buried treasures, secret caches of valuables—confirmations that it is, in fact, I, God, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name. It’s because of my dear servant Jacob, Israel my chosen, That I’ve singled you out, called you by name, and given you this privileged work.”
Isaiah 45:3-4 The Message
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Reprinted with permission from Bound4Life.com