Prayers I Never wanted to need — The project

The idea for this book came after I responded to a friend who had solicited prayers to a group of women clergy. She needed a prayer for a family with whom she was going to sit while they wrote victim statements, expressing the daily losses they would forever endure because their mother, sister, and beloved wife had been murdered.

Writing that prayer took me to a deeper place in appealing to God on behalf of the human condition. Afterward, I solicited prayer requests from those in my congregation, asking for situations in which they have not known the words to pray, yearned for a prayer that named their circumstances just the same. These prayers were inspired by some of their replies.

The prayers in this series are personal. Many were written for individuals who needed them for particular challenges and heartbreaks in life. They are prayers of loss, shock, denial, bargaining, acceptance, and hope. Some name what we dare not whisper. While some were written with a specific person or situation in mind, it is true that the more specifically something is described, the more universally it is understood.

These prayers are being written by a group of women writers. My friends, colleagues, connections. They are clergy, deaconesses, spiritual directors. They are women of faith who are deeply connected to God’s own Spirit. They are women who know suffering and also know the enduring presence of the One who suffered and died, that we might hold onto the hope of resurrection. We are witnesses to God’s presence in our midst.

I will publish one prayer a day throughout Lent. When the project is complete, we will collect these prayers into a book, the proceeds of which will be given to an organization that benefits Native Nations, where Covid19 has hit particularly hard, and where violence against women is 10 times the national average. You can read more about this truth here.

We are writing these prayers for anyone yearning for the words to accompany their sighs too deep for words. We are writing them together because if there is anything living through a pandemic has taught me it is that we need one another every hour of every day. The synergy found in collaboration with colleagues can be profound. That said, I wish you did not need these prayers. I wish we did not need such prayers. I hope they provide us all with a sense of comfort or if not that, then at least a sense of being less alone. In a time when fear looms large, and naming our demons feels risky, we call upon the God of goodness and grace, in prayers none of us ever wanted to need.

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