Prayer Musings

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Now that I'm married, I have become a fairly regular church attendee. For those of you who know me well this is indeed remarkable, as I have shared my thoughts on religion and church in this space on numerous occasions. Nonetheless, my wife and I enjoy our discourse on various belief systems and process of building faith both internal and external.

Our church is pretty progressive in its approach to spreading the gospel and promoting a healthy community.  It is not uncommon for the pastor to ask the congregation to hit the streets to assist in prayer vigils or some other spiritual revivals.  We have gone door-to-door to pass out leaflets and offer prayers of encouragement for the disenfranchised and less fortunate.   One one particular Sunday, I assisted the pastor and roughly ten others members of our congregation in canvassing a 10-story "project" building in midtown Detroit. The idea was that we'd inform folks of the forthcoming revival and respond to and offer to give prayer to those who acknowledged a need.

Not sure that I could really call that tenement a project building, as it looked more like a re-purposed hotel circa 1960's.  Though it was very grimy inside, it did not stir memories of Farragut (B'klyn) or Soundview (Bronx).  Anyway, I digress. Perhaps the most noteworthy was the fact that we decided to start the work on the 10th floor. By the time pastor had reached the top floor, I had to chuckle at the fact that we probably lost seven brothers on the way up to the 10th floor. Nuff huffing and puffing. Mad giggles for me.. Anyway we get to the top and split up into groups of three and send the groups to 9th and 8th floors too.  We figured that it made more sense to do it this way. I did have a bit of trepidation about the prayer vigil, as I wasn't sure what the tenants would say to us. Moreover, I'm not much for prayer in general.  More on this later.

After we broke up into groups of three, we began to knock upon doors at random. Clearly, there is a bit of risk when doing such things. Particularly when you do not know what lurks on the other side of the door. Call it blind faith, much like the Book of Eli ;-)  Anyway it was decided that I would be the person who would explain why we had chosen to knock on the door.  Once you explain your purpose, you will immediately learn whether you're wanted. It was typically for the residents simply not to answer the door. Surprisingly, more often than not they actually opened the door and didn't spray us with profanity or buckshot. I actually got pretty comfortable speaking about the revival and selling something for which I was not completely invested. Someone said if you can sell Jesus, you can sell anything.

Eventually, every group member had to say a prayer for those residents who allowed us to do so at there door entry. Definitely not in my comfort zone, but we got it done.

Most of the residents we spoke to were likely jobless and perhaps a few days from being homeless. It was a very somber sight indeed. I could not help but wonder if our time would have been better served by providing them with vocational training, food or something more tangible than prayer. 

I once learned something called the 12 jewels - Food, clothes, shelter, peace, love,happiness, knowledge, wisdom, understanding, freedom, justice, and equality. It would seem to me that these are the most precious jewels for the human being. Reason with me for a moment. People who are in the cycle of poverty for whatever reason, would likely be uplifted in many respects by attaining the components of these 12 jewels. Uttering prayers seems so very hollow to me. Perhaps it is a start, but it just seems that there is so much more needed.

We will never know whether the people living in that tenement building really benefited from our presence and prayers. However, I am clear that much more needs to be done.
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    This page contains a single entry by AG published on August 9, 2010 6:52 AM.

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