Dancing With the Stars vs. Praying For the Stars

By Stephen W. Hutchins

I remember praying for David Bowie’s salvation when I was in junior high school.  I loved his musical creativity and learned to play many of his songs on the piano.  Yet I became convinced, through the content of his lyrics, the interviews he gave, news reports of his behavior, and stuff written about him in the rock press, that he was far from God.  This saddened me and caused me to pray.

Do you pray for famous people, people whom you’ll never meet or hope to have a relationship with that might afford you an opportunity to share the gospel?  I’m talking about people far outside your “circle of influence.”  I do, especially when I feel God is putting someone on my heart.  When I do, it’s usually someone who I’ve read about in the news or some pop culture icon who has been inserted into my conscious world.  Let me tell you about a recent example.

About six months ago, while venturing out from the rock I live under, I was introduced to Patricia Cornwell—the best selling crime writer—through an INTERVIEW she had given.  I learned that her novels were both numerous and wildly successful.  I also learned that she had a very difficult childhood that was mitigated somewhat by a close friendship she cultivated with Ruth Bell Graham, Ruth’s parents, and, to a lesser extent, the evangelist Billy Graham.  A few weeks after reading this interview, I saw one of her books prominently displayed on a sofa table in the lobby of a downtown hotel.  I thought back on the interview with some sadness.  Here’s a woman who in many ways seems to “have it all” and yet seems to have missed the way of true life that the Grahams and Bells surely were directing her toward.  So I’ve been praying for her that she would ponder the things she learned as a child and the examples of faithfulness that she saw and that the Holy Spirit would use these and other means to draw her into an obedient walk with the Savior.

Another famous person who recently has ended up in my intercessory crosshairs is John Cougar Mellencamp.  Again, it started after seeing a NEWS ITEM on the Internet about his encounter with the doctor that saved his life as an infant born with spina bifida.  In spite of the doctor’s entreaties to him to the contrary, John confesses to the interviewer that he has no faith (“in anything”), but recently he’s had second thoughts.  I’m praying that God uses the encouragement of this doctor, the words of that mysterious woman he met on the streets of NYC in the 80’s, and others to call him to faith.

Prayer like this can be good for our soul.  It helps keep our faith perspective centered.  John reminds us, in 1 John 2:15-17, that our world is passing away.  When we pray for these larger-than-life personalities, it reinforces our self-awareness of this truth.  It also reminds us of our mission here, to be faithful ambassadors of Christ’s Kingdom.  Praying for those cultural icons that seemingly “have it all,” yet without a saving faith, reminds us of our own desperate condition before we knew about the Savior’s love.  God actually changes the way we think about them.

Prayer is an act of obedience, but it’s so much more than that.  Praying in this way helps us keep God’s perspective on life.  It’s sanctifying.  We’re reminded that God’s Kingdom is what it’s all about.  We’re also less apt to idolize or become otherwise negatively invested in the person(s) for whom we’re praying.  I wonder what nameless, faceless Christians were praying for Constantine; John Newton; Louis Zamperini; or even Kerry Livgren, to name a few very random people who found fame long before they found new life in Jesus.

Who are some of the people you’ve been praying for lately or plan to?