At the beginning of Lent (way back in February), we were invited to take strips of purple paper and form Prayer Chains. On each link we could write a person or a situation that we would pray for; the idea was to add one link each day during Lent.
But we found out prayer is not easy to keep in order! Some people planned ahead, and did many links at once, while writing down the prayer concerns on a list to keep them handy. Some people did add one per day, or several at a time, or a week’s worth at a time. Sometimes it was hard to keep up, and some days were missed. But -here’s the cool part- we were doing it! The strips of purple paper reminded us to pray, and many of us did.
We prayed as families. We prayed as individuals. We prayed for family and friends. Some of us prayed for enemies. We prayed for our world and our country and our community. We may not know right now how all those prayers affected all those situations, but we know God heard them, because all through the Bible, God is shown to be a listening God.
But a number of us noticed that the exercise of praying for others changed us. I know this because you told me. That’s one of the effects of prayer that we often forget about: Prayer changes us. Prayer changes the pray-er. Maybe our hearts softened a bit toward a person or a situation that was bugging us. Maybe we could see someone in a different way. Maybe it became a way to feel connected to someone we love, or a way to let worry relax a bit. Maybe we were reminded that God cares about all of us, and about all parts of our lives. Maybe it was just good to be in conversation with God a bit more than before.
It’s hard to measure or quantify the effects of prayer. But at Easter, I asked you to bring your Prayer Chains, short or long, so we could connect them together. I wondered how long the final chain would be. (Maybe you did, too.)
Well, it stretched across the brick pillars in the Gathering Area, down the wall opposite the coat rack, across the windows at the back of the Worship Space, through the doors, across the back of that space toward the Prayer Chapel door and towards the windows facing Geele Avenue. I wondered how many feet that was, and determined to measure the chain once it was taken down. I also wondered how far across the community, the country and our world those prayers had reached.
I can’t answer that last question, but I can say that the chain made a mighty heap in my office after I had it all down and it measured 135 feet long. And one of our youth said, “When we do this next year…” as he shared his ideas to make the Prayer Chain even better. I’m ready to do it again- how about you?
Janet Blank, Faith Formation Coordinator