Feeling Prayer

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At the start, let me say what this meditation is not about. It is not about expressive versus non-expressive prayer, verbalizing versus praying silently. I am not attempting to make you feel “warm and fuzzy” on the inside or judge persons who don’t feel that way during prayer. This is not a way to test or to gauge if you have prayed right or well. This is not about whether or not you feel like praying. Are your defenses down yet? Now that I’ve told you what I’m not talking about, let me tell you what I am saying.

Recently, I attended a prayer meeting and an older gentleman shared with the congregation that he “felt” the prayers of his parents and grandparents. He knew innately that someone had interceded on his behalf and felt assured that their prayers had paved a way for him that would not have existed otherwise. For him, prayer had laid the pavers for his journey. Though his life was not without struggle, he testified that it was bearable and meaningful because someone prayed for him.

He concluded his testimony with an old song familiar to many persons within the African American community:

Somebody prayed for me
Had me on their mind
Took the time to pray for me
I’m so glad they prayed
I’m so glad they prayed
I’m so glad they prayed for me.”

Whether you are aware of this song or his testimony, perhaps you can relate to the experience of feeling the prayers of others. His family’s prayers brought assurance; maybe for you, the prayers of others bring comfort, relief, or joy at the fact that somebody prayed for you. Because it is not a small gesture to talk to God on behalf of someone else.

And when persons feel prayed for, it seems that God has sent a kind of confirmation of receipt. We are assured in the moment that we did not get here on our own, that it was not the pulling up of our bootstraps but the feet of a mother who paced the floor at night praying for us. Because their prayers go before us. Their prayers go ahead of us, asking God to protect us in our folly, to comfort us in our affliction, to encourage us during difficult times. These prayers speak to a time that will be.

These intercessory prayers act as a kind of personal cloud of witnesses that lead us like God did the Israelites in the Old Testament. It does not suggest that the prayer has been answered because his journey and, likewise, ours is not complete. But, he is walking out the prayer. And in so doing, he is walking in the will of God. After his testimony, I wanted to sing the song, too. If you have ever felt prayed for, join me in singing the praises of prayer, “Somebody prayed for me!”

Reverend Starlette Thomas* is an associate pastor at Village Baptist Church in Bowie, Maryland and the Minister to Empower Congregations at the D.C. Baptist Convention. She writes on the social construct of race and the practice of faith at www.racelessgospel.com. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and Starbucks.

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