Prayer meeting in the park

The economic crunch of recent years hit real estate related businesses hard. The number of homes sold dropped along with the price of houses. Even the task of appraising houses for their market value declined. This job that had once supported my friend left her looking elsewhere for employment.

Month after month calls asking for an appraisal grew farther and farther apart. Some months she received only a couple of calls compared to previous years of being asked to appraise at least three or four houses a week.
Week after week the cost of living and the income from working failed to agree.
Discouraged with her long-term business, the once busy appraiser began looking for other means of covering her household expenses. She opened her home to a woman needing to rent a room. She looked into working at a department store or cleaning houses – anything to get her through the rough time in the fallen economy.
Fortunately, she no longer had children at home. The two oldest were married with children. Her youngest, finishing college, worked to cover his out-of-pocket expenses. As the holiday season approached, she suggested that each person make personal gifts rather than purchase them.
One Saturday morning as she left her quiet home office and headed to the park to walk her dog, she resolved to make it through Thanksgiving and Christmas and then consider another field of employment.

She pulled into a parking spot, opened her door and reached for the dog leash.
“Excuse me, Ma’am.”
She turned and smiled, “Yes?”
A young woman stood shivering hesitantly before her.
“I’m supposed to go to the park this morning and pray for someone. You are the one. Is there something you would like me to pray about for you?”
An easy, obvious answer, “My business. Pray for my business. It has been rough the last couple years.”

The teen did not give her name. She did not ask the business woman for hers. She simply prayed earnestly over the business. She prayed for more phone calls to come. She prayed for wisdom for the woman. She thanked God for the answer and closed with a quiet, “in Christ’s name, Amen.”

The young woman lifted her head and smiled at the older woman, “May God be with you,” and she left.
Pulling her dog’s leash, the business woman started to walk her dog, unsure what it all meant, yet still pleased that God had sent someone to pray for her. The time of prayer lingered for the rest of the weekend.
Monday, she received two phone calls.

By the end of the week, she had had enough calls to keep her busy for another week.
In the year since the prayer meeting in the park, the phone has continued to ring. Each business call leaves her keenly aware that “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it,” Psalm 127:1
She could not build a business without God. Only He could make this happen, and He did in His time.

I called her recently to ask to share her story. She apologized for not lingering to talk, she had too much to do to sit and chat. She said she might need to hire an assistant. Our brief conversation testified of God’s provision as He answered the young woman’s prayer and demonstrates the walk of faith when we pray asking God to provide our daily bread – not a whole year’s worth at once, but enough for the day – a thought to grasp as we enter another year in economically uncertain times. He is the one providing the work and the energy we need each day for our daily bread.

(Joan Hershberger is a reporter at the News-Times. E-mail her at