Drive-by Prayer

It’s different and it works

Lori Futcher
Drive-by Prayer

I breathed in the fragrance of the flowers that sat on the passenger seat next to me. Who are they for? I wondered as I followed the directions provided by the delivery app. Are the flowers a romantic gesture, a birthday gift, or an expression of sympathy?

Only a few months earlier I had been the recipient of flowers delivered to me upon news of my father’s passing. The delivery driver had chatted rapidly about the traffic, the smell of the flowers, and how large the bouquet was, seeming oblivious to the tear tracks that lined my face.

Though I hoped I was delivering to someone in happier circumstances, I prepared myself to show more sympathy should the recipient of the flowers I now carried appear to be grieving.

Sure enough, when the woman opened her front door, she had puffy red eyes and was dabbing at her cheeks with a scrunched-up tissue.

“Rough time?” I asked softheartedly. She nodded. Not knowing what else to say, I nodded sympathetically and left.

I had driven only a few feet down the road when I started mentally kicking myself. I should have offered to pray for her! Why didn’t I think of that? I had the whole trip to prepare myself for this exact scenario, and yet I failed to do the one thing that could have helped her!

Though I am always inspired by stories of people praying for strangers in need, I can’t say that I’ve ever been that person to be the bridge between a hurting stranger and our caring God. Why that is, I’m not completely sure. Sometimes I just don’t think about praying until the moment is over. But sometimes I think I’m held back by fear. Would the person appreciate prayer, I wonder, or would my intrusion only complicate an already difficult situation?

That is why I got excited when Helvis Moody told me about drive-by prayers. Helvis is the Prayer Ministries coordinator and Young Adult/Youth Ministries director for the Southwestern Union.

“We did a drive-by prayer in Amarillo, Texas,” he told me. “People actually stopped and said, ‘pray for me.’ That’s a sight to see!”

What I find especially exciting about this method of outreach is that it can involve everyone: adults and kids, introverts and extroverts. And those you are praying for only have to make the small commitment of pulling into a parking lot. They don’t even need to get out of their car. This is enough of a commitment that you’ll know you are praying for receptive people, but not so much of a commitment to prevent busy or nervous individuals from participating.

Here’s how it works. The church picks a time and location where they will do a drive-by-prayer event. Helvis recommends using the church parking lot, but if your church is off the beaten path, you may want to consider options where you’ll be able to get permission from the business owner to be there.

Before the event, have the young people make some signs to catch the attention of drivers. You can also promote the event on social media and other local outlets. Radio and television stations as well as newspapers often have community calendars that will list events like this at no cost.

On the day of the event, you may want to set up a tent where those who will be praying can stand while they wait for cars to arrive. Have someone who will direct cars where to go, and recruit some young people (supervised by an adult) to stand a safe distance away from the road holding signs.

When a car arrives, a church member will greet them and ask what the person would like them to pray for. After offering a personal prayer for the person who stopped, the church member will leave them with a gift, such as a piece of candy, a relevant tract, or a book on prayer.

“This is different,” Helvis says, “but it works.”

When people stop at an event like this, they leave knowing that the church cares about them—and more importantly that God cares.

Lori Futcher

Lori Futcher ([email protected]) is working on her M.F.A. in creative nonfiction and does freelance writing and voiceover work from her home in Nampa, Idaho.