A guy named Dennis, a street corner, and a prayer

Abraham Villarreal
3 min readApr 3, 2023
Photo by Johannes Krupinski on Unsplash.

I met a guy named Dennis on a street corner in Chicago the other day. I was in town for a few days, mostly attending conference sessions about higher education. Each speaker had something to say about something that he or she wanted us to know.

There was a lot to know about a lot of things, and just when you think you’ve had your fill of knowing something new, you end up learning something outside the conference that you really needed to know.

When not in the conference sessions, I did a lot of walking. A few snowflakes on the first day were followed by wind, rain, and cold weather. Not walking weather, but you are in Chicago when you are there, so I did a lot of walking.

There are many dramatic contrasts in big cities you don’t see in small towns. The tininess you feel standing next to skyscrapers. The constant change of the community that wants to celebrate its long-ago history. The differences between what you are learning inside to what you are experiencing outside.

Dennis reminded me of that. He told me to pray for him. That was the first thing he said after I asked him his name. “My name is Dennis. Next time you pray, pray for Dennis.”

“I will,” I told him. “God bless you.” I said a prayer as I walked away so that I wouldn’t forget it. Most people on street corners ask for other things. Tangible things they can feel or touch. Money, food, a ride, a bus ticket. They don’t ask for prayer.

It takes courage to ask someone to pray for you. Someone that you don’t even know. Or maybe it takes desperation. Prayer is something private, something spiritual. It can be done in many different ways, and it always involves acknowledging that someone is in need.

If it was a need that you and I could help with, there would be no need for prayer. I could have helped Dennis that day on that street corner. I could have asked about all his problems. He seemed like a nice guy that would be willing to share his story.

He was probably jobless. I’m sure he was a bit hungry. He mentioned he wanted a couple of…



Abraham Villarreal

People are interesting. I write about them and what makes them interesting.