Guest / Limited Access /

"If you're writing a book about prayer, you should hang around the homeless for a while," said my wife, a veteran of inner-city ministry. "Street people pray as a necessity, not a luxury."

Her advice made sense, especially after I interviewed Mike Yankoski, a Westmont College student who, along with a friend, left school for five months to live on the street. (His book, Under the Overpass, tells the story.) Mike told me that homeless people, having hit bottom, don't waste time building up an image or trying to conform. And they pray without pretense, a refreshing contrast to what he found in some churches.

I asked for an example. "My friend and I were playing guitars and singing 'As the Deer Panteth for the Water' when David, a homeless man we knew, started weeping. 'That's what I want, man,' he said. 'I want that water. I'm an alcoholic, but I want to be healed.' As I spent more time with David, I realized that a connection with God is his only hope for healing. He simply doesn't have the inner strength. He relies on prayer as a lifeline."

Mike estimates that a quarter of the homeless people he knows have an active Christian faith. When I visited a coffee house for the homeless in Denver, I found no shortage of street people willing to talk about prayer. Bill, a wry, articulate man who attended a college prep school, told me of several answers to prayer while hitchhiking. Once, he said, "God sent a biker with the very tools I needed to repair the vehicle whose owner had offered me a ride. Think of the odds against that happening in Salina, Kansas!" As he talked, he packed and unpacked a hand-rolled cigarette.

Scott, a young man who could sell saltwater to a sailor, shook my hand firmly, looked me in the eye, and started witnessing ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
January
More from this IssueJanuary 2006
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Deliver Us from Joseph Kony
Why the children of Uganda are killing one another in the name of the Lord.
RecommendedRussia's Newest Law: No Evangelizing Outside of Church
Russia's Newest Law: No Evangelizing Outside of Church
(UPDATE) Putin signs new restrictions that limit where and how Christians share the gospel.
TrendingWhy Max Lucado Broke His Political Silence for Trump
Why Max Lucado Broke His Political Silence for Trump
In the face of a candidate’s antics, ‘America’s Pastor’ speaks out.
Editor's PickMy Encounter with Ken Ham's Giant Ark
My Encounter with Ken Ham's Giant Ark
A four-hour visit to the massive replica of Noah's boat left me with a flood of questions.
Christianity Today
The Word on the Street
hide thisJanuary January

In the Magazine

January 2006

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.