"The white fathers told us, "I think, therefore, I am" and the black mother within each of us – the poet – whispers in our dreams, I feel, therefore I can be free."- Audre Lorde

Saturday, November 10, 2012


I struggle with communal prayer. Not so much the act of collaborative prayer, but rather with the social aftermath of it. It often leaves me feeling more alone and bruised than I when I started off. When we simply give one-another's burdens up to God, it feels like there's something missing; praying for one-another is becoming more passive than I believe it was designed to be. This is not the fault of prayer itself, but rather with us...as a community who falls short.

I believe prayer should be active. I believe it is OUR responsibility, as a community, to not only pray for one-another as a group, but to truly listen to the requests of those we are praying for. To truly listen is to be present, to remember, and to engage. To be active in prayer is to participate in that prayer, long after words are recited. We are all part of the Spirit, we are all called to be part of this grand narrative of love, and I believe that this Spirit and this love has already given US the power to help meet a great deal of the needs of those we are praying for, and with. The Creator made us to function as a body, to care for and nourish one another as a grand whole. We are body—so intimately connected with one-another that a hurt or a problem in one area, should hurt and affect us all. It doesn't feel this way sometimes when a hurt expressed during a prayer, is rarely mentioned again afterwords.

It involves a great deal of vulnerability to surrender a private hurt to a group --- to share a wounded space for all to see. If a person entrusts a burden to prayer, then it is our responsibility to follow up with this burden-- to live compassion, to show we tangibly care, and work to ease it. Having been brokenhearted and vulnerable in prayer, has taught me that we need to be asking questions afterwords. We need to be remembering other people's pains and struggles-- days, weeks, and months after they've been shared. A simple question holds a lot of power, makes you feel heard and loved, and most importantly makes you feel like your hurt is valid-- is something that matters to your community at whole. We need to be checking in with one another more-- in creative ways that extend beyond formal practices of prayer. We need to SHOW God in how we choose to comfort and support the people we are praying for. We need to be asking, “how is your heart feeling?”, not once, not twice, but a thousand times. We need to go further.

I have been the brokenhearted--I know how it feels to express a need and a fear during prayer, and afterwords have the world continue to exist as if now my pain is done, gone, taken care of.

I have loved the brokenhearted-- I have seen a weary loved one take the risk of letting her church know how wounded she really was during prayer, only to feel incredibly let down and isolated afterwords.

And I have hurt the brokenhearted-- I  have been the person who prayed for someone and never followed up. Who forgot to find the time to ask. Who let life's busyness be a distraction from truly loving and showing comfort to a hurting neighbour. I have been the one to make excuses.

I often wonder what stops us from checking up on people in our community? What stops us from knowing a pain exists in someone we are called to love, but pretending as if it doesn't exist at all?

1- Fear. I think we are afraid of having to feel uncomfortable ourselves-- we are afraid of being stretched outside of our comfort zone. It's hard to empathize with someone sometimes because we know we'll have to DO something and taking that responsibility is sometimes a frightening or difficult thing to do.

2- By stander Affect. People are less likely to offer help when there are others present because everyone assumes everyone else if providing that help. Thinking that someone else will take care of it, lets us diffuse our own responsbility to take action.

3- Busyness. We are so caught up in the choas of our own lives that we genuinly just forget, or struggle to find the time. Caring for someone outside of prayer requires sacrifice in our time, and our energies.

I want to deconstruct these barriers. I want us, as the church, to deconstruct these barriers. I want to someday offer prayer, and with that offer active love and presence. I want us to see the power that a simple phonecall, email, letter, hug, or card can have in providing comfort to those hurting around us. I want us to share eachother's burdens, and in turn, work together with the Spirit, in making them lighter and more livable.

Without followup, without questions, without genuine human regard or action, communal-prayer falls flat. We need holistic prayer-- prayer that becomes living, prayer that becomes breathing, prayer that becomes getting tangibly messy alongside those hearts in our body who are hurting.

snail coitus makes me smile