Pray-Her: Let Us Pray


I am the associate pastor at Village Baptist Church in Bowie, Maryland and one of my responsibilities is to offer the pastoral prayer in worship each week. I take the task seriously. I am listening and talking to God about my congregation and though the call is not long distance as it is spirit to Spirit, it is an exchange between the created and the Creator, between dirt and the Divine. The fact that it is placed on paper and within a program has no effect on me. We have gathered in the sanctuary to bow our heads together with the heavenly host and enter a sacred space, a mystical moment together. The clock stops and we become the paper that we hold, “living letters” (2 Corinthians 3:2).

Let us pray. The words are familiar to us but the practice of conversing with the Divine is still unsettling, unrealistic, and even unusual for many believers. Like the children of Israel, we would rather someone pray for us. “Pastor Moses, I am afraid of God. Will you talk to Him for me” (cf. Exodus 20:18-21)?

No bodyguard or velvet rope; instead, three words invite us into a conversation with God. And we appear to be a part of the conversation. We bow our heads but is it a sign of reverence? Or, do we bow our heads and bow out, pull out our cell phones to search for answers or entertainment there? I am afraid that we no longer believe that when we bow our heads, our souls can look up to God, that we secretly don’t believe that God can hear or talk to us.

We close our eyes when we pray. We look like we are closing out the sensory world and opening the window of our soul to feel the reassuring breeze of God’s Spirit. It is the posture of attentiveness. However, I wonder if we have discounted this time. Seeing it for much less than it’s worth, we use it as naptime, sleeping while God is talking because we do not want to awaken our deepest longings and needs. Or, we don’t close them, afraid to be alone with our thoughts, afraid to hear what God will say to us.

Let us pray. We fold our hands. Perhaps, our fingers have been enlisted to join in the request, to assist in our pleading. Or, we fold our hands but have also folded our arms, praying while doubting that God can do anything about what we are saying, that God’s words are lip-service? Maybe we think that God will only talk to Pastor Moses, that because the pastor is talking, we should not or don’t need to.

But, I suspect that we know the truth. We want to pray and the words are not bars or prison stripes across our chest but three witnesses. Let. Us. Pray.

This is the life of prayer, that we following the leadings of Pray. We talk it out as we walk it out. This is why we “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). It is because our steps are not ordered without prayer.

And it is my prayer that you would leave your fears and join the conversation. Don’t just listen to the prayers of this woman, this pray-her but please piggyback the points, interject, and interrupt. You have something to say to God so let us pray.

smcneillReverend Starlette McNeill* is an associate pastor at Village Baptist Church in Bowie, Maryland. A graduate of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, she writes on the social construct of race and the practice of faith at She is also a wife, mother, and columnist with Baptist News Global, Baptist Women in Ministry, and Ethics Daily. She is a contributing author to the book Faith Forward: Children, Youth and a New Kind of Christianity. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and Starbucks.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email