We began on April 8. It’s been eight weeks now. For eight weeks, people have been typing, tapping, letter by letter, their prayers of lament and gratitude, and sharing them with us. I have read and listened to every one of these prayers at least four times. First, I read them on our website, one by one. Then I read them again as I pull them together into a document for our prayer leader each week.
Wait a second (as I’m copying and pasting)
I don’t recall seeing that before — how did I not see
that whole sentence,
It’s as if between my first reading and this second one, something that was not there before has slipped in, appeared, made itself known. Was I somehow asleep at the keyboard?
The Rev. Carson Salyer leading a Wednesday prayer cast
I’m preparing the document for our volunteer prayer leader (it makes me smile to call them the PRAY-ER) and I want it to be just right. Perfect, in fact. “Please make sure I didn’t include the same prayer twice!” I type in my email to them.
Some of the prayers are short.
Thank you, God, for giving me exactly what I need each and every day. I can count on you.
Some come in the form of whole paragraphs, streaming gratefulness and grief.
COVID-19 (survived/succumbed to)
Relationships (broken/restored, and just in the nick of time)
Addictions (at bay for the moment and please keep them that way/rearing their head again)
And every kind of woe and praise in between.
My brother has lost his way, Lord. I don’t know how to help him, Lord. Help me help him without hurting him more, Lord. Thank you, Lord.
Some of the prayers, short or long, are so, so heavy that I find myself (if I’m honest) wanting to look away or substitute other verbiage to make it somehow easier to stomach. I type in my message to the prayer leader, “You can paraphrase if you are more comfortable paraphrasing.” They never do. They pray them like they see them.
I listen to the prayer recording before I post it. I have to make sure there are no technical glitches where the sound comes and goes or gets completely out of whack. Where the video does something wonky and we’re out of sync or lose the connection because there is just not enough bandwidth (yes, all of those things have happened at one point or another and, thanks be to God, we always figured out a plan b, c, or d.)
This time, I’m not reading the prayers, I’m listening. Lord, in your mercy…
I don’t remember that prayer — how did that prayer get in there? I’m sure I didn’t include it. I look back at the prayer document and there it is, beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.
Then I post the prayer recording on our pages and I listen to it along with everyone else (the photo on the left is Dr. Ashley Goad leading Wednesday prayers). It’s my fourth time hearing them now, a Lectio Divina practice of sorts, and I am hearing words I have never heard before. And it comes to me (eight weeks in, for I can sometimes be mighty slow of heart) that God doesn’t care so much about my prayer document being typed up just right or whether I include the same prayer twice or four times in fact. Whether the sound is out of whack and the video goes all wonky and even more so if my own comfort is of much concern in reading a sister’s words as she unpacks her sorrow in front of us all. Much less whether a prayer is short and sweet or a whole page of run-on sentences.
Lord, if the prayers of your people are such that they require run-on sentences, then let the sentences run on!
We have prayed for truck drivers and healthcare providers. For parents who are now stay at home teachers and grandparents longing to hug their grandbabies. We’ve prayed for family in Ghana and family right here in our own backyard. We’ve prayed for preemie babies and for pastors zooming for the first time in their life.
We have prayed and we will continue to pray.
Thy kingdom come.
These are the Prayers of the Water Saints. Will you add your prayers to ours?
Kendall Cox is the Director of Education for Living Waters for the World. She lives in Greenville, Mississippi and is a member of First Presbyterian Church, an LWW Water Church partnering in Cuba.
You can pray with us any time. Visit our prayer page at www.livingwatersfortheworld.org/pray where you can submit prayers and pray for others. Each Wednesday we will post a prayer video on our Living Waters for the World Vimeo channel https://vimeo.com/lwwmission and on our LWW Facebook page and Instagram at 10 a.m. central time.