Searching For Relevance

Prayer Is Not So Easy

February 2, 2017

By Guillermo Márquez-Sterling

Late September of 2016 we had what we thought was a pretty good idea. Back then we were trying to plan ahead, visualizing what our church might need after the election. Knowing that our community is not homogenous, we had a stroke of genius. Regardless of who would win, the country would experience the pain of division and discontent. So, we decided to dedicate the first 100 days of the new presidency to prayer. As is usually the case, we were enthusiastic for this new idea, and quickly entered into conversations with the PieceMakers for a Prayer Quilt.

Press fast-forward through the shock of the election, the rising tide of discontent, and all the talking heads analyzing what the new presidency will look like. Fast-forward to today and you will notice that we have unveiled a Prayer Quilt and a daily prayer on the website. I have been asking church members to submit prayers for our program, but a good percentage of the congregation has been … how should I say? Reticent. Yes, that’s the word. Reticent.

In talking to reticent members of our congregation the feedback is … well, let me just quote what a woman of our church said to me. “I can’t pray because all I want to do is either cry or scream!” It was at this time, that several questions entered my mind. Have we miscommunicated what the program is? Have we not taught people what prayer is? Knowing that she is probably not alone in her feelings, let me inform every reader in the manner I informed her.

The program calls for prayer, but not just for the president. We can pray for the people, the community, all the elected leaders or a particular branch of government. You can even pray for yourself.  

Next, prayer does not always need to be emotionless. Your prayer can reflect your feelings, as long as it doesn’t justify an R rating. Prayer does not need to show uniformity and conformity. Be yourself. Be original. If in your prayer you want to dissent from what you think is the dominant culture, then by all means – dissent.

This is not an exercise on showing the world how wonderful we pray. This is an exercise in showing each other (members of our own community) what we pray for. It’s an exercise in sharing what is deep in our hearts. Some of us pray words of thanksgiving because the new presidency is exactly what we wanted. Yet, some of us pray desperately because it’s exactly what we feared.  

We still think prayer is a good idea. The prayers might not be coming easily, but we believe that through prayer God’s Spirit will change us for the better, regardless of who is in White House.