Praying in the Restroom? ©
Janet L. DeCaster
I heard her weeping and didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t exactly a convenient time for a ‘divine appointment’. After all, I was in the middle of a busy workday and had only run to the restroom for a few necessary moments. As I was heading back to my desk, I faced a choice. Let me explain.
I like to write about the working and activity of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian believer “on the road of everyday life”. My blog posts and books aim to help others become more ‘tuned-in’ to God’s voice and inner promptings, whether at work, school, the grocery story, or out for a walk with their dog. I love to help others look for God in everyday circumstances, and to touch those around them with just a little bit of His hope* and love wherever they go. As Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:15, “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope* as a believer, always be ready to explain it.”
In the course of my own life, I try to be aware of such opportunities to share the hope I have in Christ with others. Sometimes I use words, sometimes not. Those moments in time become little ‘snapshots’ of God-encounters. Some call them, ‘God-incidences’, ‘divine appointments’ or ‘God sightings’ that occur in the midst of the mundane tasks of life. They come in all shapes and sizes.
It was within that context, that I found myself in the public women’s restroom of a skyscraper in the bustling downtown of the large city in which I work. You see I am a bi-vocational Minister of the Gospel. Like St. Paul (not the city of that name, but the writer of 2/3 of the New Testament of the Holy Bible), I work on a contract basis in the marketplace (as projects are available) but also teach God’s Word to others. Paul made tents ** (to support his practical needs) and I work as an independent contractor. I serve on teams conducting forensic and legal review of documents in large litigation matters in the “e-discovery” business. You see, before I was a Christian or a Minister, I was trained as a lawyer (also like the Apostle Paul, who was trained in law prior to his conversion, coincidentally). It has been a flexible, practical way to get back into the marketplace after some years focusing on full-time parenting, simultaneous ministry training and writing my first two Christian books. Believe it or not, God likes lawyers too! Thus, as a practical matter, I use those skills to help meet my family’s needs and support my own ministry endeavors.
So, it was on an otherwise ordinary workday, I encountered a woman weeping audibly in a bathroom stall in the public, ladies’ restroom near (one of) my workplaces. I heard someone else (similarly situated behind an adjacent bathroom stall door like myself) ask her if she needed help, to which she replied, “No!” quite emphatically. Proceeding out for a quick coffee, I prayed for her. Silently, I asked, “God, if I should go back and say something to her please let me know.” She was obviously greatly distressed and I didn’t want to invade her privacy, but I felt prompted to at least whisper a quick prayer seeking God’s guidance. As I returned, cup in hand, toward my workplace, I had a clear inner-sense that I should stop back and see if she was still there. So I did.
The woman was still weeping loudly, on the floor behind the locked door of the larger, end bathroom stall. Now, to the guys reading this, who think this is probably ‘normal’. Let me assure you, it’s not. I’ve been in plenty of public women’s restrooms in my life, lived in women’s-only dorms, a sorority house, dressed in the women’s locker rooms of more than a few gyms over the years and served as a Women’s Pastor at a Church. Never have I encountered another woman audibly sobbing like this in a public place! All I could see were her legs, shoes and the bottom of her skirt.
Taking a risk, I simply said, “I am a Christian and I like to pray for others, would you like me to pray for you?” (Remember that someone else had previously asked her if she needed help and she had declined, in no uncertain terms!). To my surprise, she said, “Yes!” So, right there in the public restroom, coffee in hand, I prayed a simple prayer out loud for her. (Other women were present in the restroom as well — all complete strangers to me.) I simply asked God to bless, protect and comfort her. I asked that she would sense His love and peace, in Jesus’ name. She thanked me. I then sensed a release from the Holy Spirit, and I knew that my itty-bitty ‘mission’ for God was complete. I trusted that God would touch her soul at that difficult moment of her life. I never saw her again (or at least didn’t recognize her shoes), but knew that God would work through my unexpected, restroom prayer time.
How about you? Can you ask God to use you to bless someone else on the road of your everyday life? I’ll bet He will, if you only ask Him to. (If you are tuned in to His voice, He will use you wherever you ‘go.’)
** Acts 18: 1-4 Then Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. there he became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla…. Paul lived and worked with them, for they were all tentmakers just as he was. Each Sabbath found Paul at the synagogue, trying to convince the Jews and Greeks alike…