“Wow.” “Expansive.” “Heart Opening.” “Holy.”
These are a few of the words that were used to describe the process of holding each other in prayer that we began during last week’s service. I want to thank all of you who took the time to write and describe your experience of requesting a prayer and responding to the prayer request you took from the sanctuary. Here are a few sentiments that you shared with me:
“Writing down my prayer and knowing someone else interacted with it in some way … made me cry, which says I was getting in touch with my spiritual self, something that I need to do more often.”
“It was a beautiful way to draw the congregation in that connected us all more than usual. Thank you.”
“It softened my heart, which is much needed right now in these frightening times.”
Those who attend services virtually were particularly appreciative of being included: “Thank you very much, for this opportunity for us to participate in this wonderful prayer practice from afar. This was very inclusive and kind and we now feel even more a part of First Church.”
The firstname.lastname@example.org address will continue to be available to receive requests or comments.
I was most touched by someone who spoke with me in person after the service. She was holding an index card in her hand and said: “I just read this prayer request. It is from a woman who wants a prayer of support as she recovers [after a personal tragedy]. We walk around and pretend that we are ‘just fine’ but we all have struggles and sadness in our lives. I feel so privileged to hold this.” And she placed the card next to her heart.
The language of prayer continues to be difficult for some of us. I want also to thank those of you who responded and described that struggle. I hope that taking some time to describe what we mean by “holding,” and some experience of what it feels like to hold the concern of another can help us move to an understanding we can share. Or at least a language we all can use.
Unitarian Universalists have been wrestling with prayer for some time. Here is a short piece written by UU musician Nick Page:
“I composed a piece of music called ‘Healing Prayer,’ to be sung by combined choirs and congregations. I wrote it because a dear friend had been diagnosed with leukemia. He asked that his friends neither visit him nor call him, but rather than we simply pray for him. And people prayed—even many who had never given prayer a thought. My friend is now well on his way to recovery. I am far too scientific to say that our prayer healed him, but I know that those of us who prayed found a deeper connection to him, to each other, and to the world we live in—and I know that my friend also found that connection between self and all things.”
This piece above is from a pamphlet entitled Unitarian Universalist Views of Prayer that you may find helpful and enriching. You can read more here: http://www.uua.org/beliefs/welcome/spirituality/151283.shtml
The feeling of connection so many described is a wonderful and powerful outcome of holding each other in prayer. For me, that is answer enough for the prayers we shared this week.