At first this morning, no words came. There was only silence, but in the silence I knew you were there. In that moment, there were no words, to describe my feelings, a mixture of so many emotions. In that moment, there were no words, to describe feelings of pain and division, anguish and frustration, anger and fear that rose to the surface of my soul. In that moment, there were no words, to move me forward and no words to redeem the past.
How can your church pray when there are no words? What do we say to you when we feel so discouraged and there are no words? When there are no words, how do we confess to you that being the church is difficult, harder than we want to admit, that being church means we surrender our hearts to you? How do we pray, when no words seem to come, but fear is all around and the very breaths we take catch deep within?
And then, out of nowhere came the words from Isaiah 10:
Do not fear, for I am with you,
do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
And suddenly, the words came and the words themselves are our prayers, are our longings and give us something that moves us forward and redeems our past.
Receive these words that bubble up through our souls as the deepest prayers of our hearts. Surround us in your Holy Spirit blanket that takes away our fear and leaves us with the knowledge that you are with us, strengthening us, weeping with us, helping us, inspiring us to continue where our united church has failed and remembering that in you, in Christ, in the Spirit is redemption, peace, hope, and joy.
Originally, this prayer was written, by Alicia Randolph Rapking, for the WV 2019 Residency group on the morning of February 27th, after the close of the 2019 General Conference session. This version is edited and revised.