I have a long commute, most of it on the D.C. metro. This past Lent, I decided to dedicate one leg of my commute to praying a rosary. This idea was inspired by my mom who would pray the rosary when we commuted together during my college internships.
But I decided to give Mom’s practice a twist.
Spurred on by the exhortations in Pope Francis’s The Joy of the Gospel and Matthew Kelly’s Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, I took a baby step in evangelization: I would ask whoever sat next to me if I could pray for them while I prayed the rosary.
I wouldn’t ask for names or do any follow-up, unless invited. This seemed like a simple, non-confrontational way to show God’s love — and so began what my wife affectionately called “Rosary Riders” (complete with theme music).
Here’s what I learned:
1. This is hard.
I have to admit, the first couple weeks of “Rosary Riders” were rough: my heart pounded and it took what felt like a solid decade to muster the courage to talk to my seatmate. When I was finally able to form words, I often spoke so fast that I would have to repeat myself multiple times before the person understood me.
I would just as quickly end the conversation, my eyes darting back to the safety of the beads in my hand, long before my seatmate even had time to think of what to say. This is hard stuff.
As a lead singer in a Catholic band, I’ve spoken about my faith to crowds of people and have led them in song and worship — but this was harder. It was just me, completely vulnerable to rejection or ridicule. My bumbling was humbling.
2. … But it’s incredibly worth it.
The good news is that things got easier. Eventually it only took a couple Hail Marys for me to work up my courage, and I was able to hold eye contact for longer and longer. What struck me the most, however, was how appreciative people were.
Sure, many times people said, “No, thank you” and went back to their smartphones. But even then, I eventually moved past the surface rejection and saw that God was still using me to bless that person and help them experience His love for them.
I was also amazed by the number of people who took the time to really think about what to say — many of whom asked for prayer for their families, especially for health or healing.
Then there were those special moments when I could tell that God had sat me down next to someone to bless them; they needed to hear that someone was praying with them. (This included one young man whose parents had both recently been diagnosed with life-threatening diseases.) No matter the response, I increasingly felt joy and courage in evangelizing and sharing this part of my faith.
3. You can do this too!
Even if you don’t have a long commute, every day we have chances to take baby steps in evangelization.
If you’re on a flight, offer to pray for your seatmate. If you hear someone at work is sick or has lost a loved one, send an email saying you are praying for them and ask if there is anything specific you can pray for. If you’re touching base with a friend, ask if they have any prayer intentions.
These small, seemingly insignificant gestures can plant seeds of faith and allow God to work through us to show His great love.
Happy baby steps!