Your Prayers, Our Prayers

Prayer request card

By Alanna C. Sullivan
Associate Minister in the Memorial Church

Last week, a friend of mine who is a reform rabbi shared this poem, from One Table Shabbat Together, with me :

Yes, the space between us is scary.
It is odd and at odds,
an area unoccupied where all things exist.
But the space between us is also liminal,
a threshold between old and new.

And so, in this space anything is possible:
to grow without gathering, 
to connect without congregating,
to create without convening.
Which means the space between is sacred.
 Yes, the space between us is scary. 
But scared and sacred are so close—
and we need to make space for both. 

It has become a guiding light for me as I pick my way through this new landscape of wilderness. 

It feels as if my world has been turned upside down in the recent weeks. The boundaries and systems I created to shape and organize my life no longer serve me — or they were illusionary to begin with. The line between work and home, leisure and labor, personal and public, the holy and the mundane, are all blurred.  

And my disorientation is most clearly evident in my jumbled prayers to God:

      "God, I pray for a day when social distancing is in our faint memories
      When we can embrace our friends, neighbors and strangers again."

      "God, I also thank you for this precious time with my little boy,
       who I was afraid was going to grow up without me noticing."  

That is the wonderful and mysterious thing about God and prayer. Nothing is off limits. It is ok for it to be messy, incoherent, angry, or even thankful. Believe me, God can take whatever you are feeling. God has probably heard worse — just look at the Psalms.

For many, there are few things more intimidating than prayer. You can feel pressured about how a prayer is supposed to sound and what it is supposed to say. It is easy to get bogged down by the logistics of it. Prayer is difficult, but it does not mean that it is complex. It is a relatively simple practice. Prayer is an ongoing conversation with the one who knows us better and loves us more than any other. I think the real reason prayer is difficult is because it means opening ourselves up to God and, maybe even more difficult, opening up to ourselves. When we pray to God, we might recognize God’s holiness, but also in turn our inarticulate brokenness. God, however, accepts our prayers completely and knows what we need before we ask.

So, in this time we invite you to share your prayers with God — and with us. You can submit your prayer on our website here. Each week we will collect your individual prayers and weave them into a communal prayer that will be shared on Fridays. Your confidentiality is honored.  

Let us hold one another in prayer in that liminal space between us and God, where both the sacred and the scared are welcomed.