Sunday

One of the Sweetest Ways to Change the World

When you grow up in a small town in New England, you don’t have much to brag about. Nestled on the shores of Narragansett Bay, the sleepy little town where I was born is home to about 23,000 people. 



But once a year, it goes from obscure to ostentatious. 


On July 4th, Bristol, Rhode Island makes headlines by hosting the oldest continuously-running Fourth of July parade in the world. As a Girl Scout from troop #229, I proudly marched with my band of sisters in this parade on more than one occasion. 

Organized in 1785 by Henry Wright, a Congregational minister and veteran of the Revolutionary War, the celebration attracts more than 200,000 visitors from around the world. It’s not uncommon to see the Today Show broadcasting "The Military, Civic and Firemen's Parade" from a perch on Hope Street. 


In preparation for the celebration, the town paints the town red. And white. And blue. Literally. A tri-color stripe down the middle of Hope Street marks the parade route. Fire hydrants painted to look like minute men dot the main thoroughfare. Bunting, flags, and flowers adorn every home within ten miles of the town center. It’s no wonder Bristol has earned the nickname, “America’s Most Patriotic Town.” 

When my family moved from Rhode Island to South Carolina, I discovered that the biggest parade in Columbia took place in the winter. Smart. Very smart. In a land where July temperatures often reach 100 degrees or more, hosting a grand celebration in one of the cooler months of the year makes sense. 

The Columbia Christmas Parade has all the parade elements I grew up with and more. Because Columbia is home to Fort Jackson, the largest basic training facility in the country, we always see an impressive display of military power. Fly overs by jets from Shaw Air Force base, rolling tanks and Armored Personnel Carriers from the fort, and music by the Army band add a chest-swelling patriotic touch. 

I was half way through my senior year of dental hygiene school when parade organizers invited me to represent the Allied Health Department. Dressed in my white uniform and cap and accompanied by a five-foot wooden tooth, I waved and smiled until my face hurt. 

One of the funnest parts of the parade was throwing candy to the kids along the route. (Ironic in light of my life-long pledge to fight tooth decay, but hey, it was Christmas.) Before event organizers decided it was dangerous and banned the practice, we had the freedom to fling handfuls of candy into the crowds that lined the streets. 

Reveling in the memory of digging into that bucket of candy and scattering sweets far and wide, I realized something. Although safety concerns has ended the tradition of distributing candy at a parades, we as Christians can share a blessing that far surpasses Fireballs, Starburst, and Jolly Ranchers. 

We can scatter prayers. 

God showed me this early one morning as I walked the streets of my neighborhood. What if you scattered prayers the way you once scattered candy? The Holy Spirit whispered to my heart. Fling them far and wide. See how many people you can touch in my name today. 

So I did. 

I prayed for my closest neighbors as I walked past their houses.

Father, bless that hard-working university professor. Help her shine the light of Christ in her classroom. 

Heal that precious friend with cancer and keep her faith strong. Meet her every need according to your riches and glory. 

Protect that young couple as they travel. Give them a restful time away and bring them home safely. 

I also prayed for neighbors I haven’t yet met, flinging petitions their way with abandon. 

Lord, there’s that young girl I pass every morning jogging with her dog. Keep her safe. Keep her pure. If she doesn’t know you as Savior, help her find you. 

And the man who leaves for work every morning at 6 a.m. Bless his home and his family. Draw him close to you. 

And the grumpy lady who never smiles. Help her find joy

Unlike the big bucket of candy on the parade floats, these sweet offerings multiplied the more I scattered them. I prayed for the policeman who lives at the entrance to our neighborhood. For the contractor who parks his trailer in a cul de sac. For the couple whose toy poodle barks every time I walk by. 


The house with a fleet of bicycles reminded me to pray for the next generation that will one day lead our country. The home with a Navy flag prompted me to pray for our military and their families. The house with the handicap ramp led me to pray for the health and safety of all my neighbors. 

Everywhere I walked, I scattered prayers with abandon, knowing God hears every one of them and promises to fulfill his purpose in each person’s life. 

What a privilege to be part of his work in the world. 

Would you like to join me? What if, instead of mindlessly walking, driving, or moving through your day, you grabbed a bucket of sweet prayers and flung them wherever you went? Who knows how God might use your petitions to accomplish his work in the lives of those around you. 

One day we’ll be part of the parade to end all parades. Instead of a red, white, and blue stripe down the middle of the road, we’ll march on golden pavement. The King of kings and Lord of lords will lead the throng, and behind him will walk people from every tribe, tongue and nation. 

How many will be there because of your prayers? 

Now it’s your turn. How have you incorporated prayer into your daily routine? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.



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4 comments:

  1. Anywhere, anytime the Spirit moves... pray.

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    1. Amen. Knowing God is always at work in the world, what a privilege to partner with Him in prayer.

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  2. I agree that prayers can be scattered at any time and any place. One thing I do every time I hear a siren is to pray, "Dear Lord, please take care of everyone and every animal in need. Please protect the rescuers. Thank You Father, Amen."

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    Replies
    1. My granny taught me to do the same thing, Melissa! One time, without even knowing, I prayed for the ambulance that carried her to the hospital. God uses those prayers to accomplish more than we can imagine. Pray on, friend!

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