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Making a Prayer

Twink Jan-McMahon, Interim Associate Pastor, First Baptist Church, Madison, WI

Our prayer for Martin Luther King Sunday came about during an after-school conversation with two high-school seniors; one, who has never been to church, and the other, who has; one, a black guy, and the other, a white girl; both, friends. After listening to them talk about their day at school, I told them it was going to be Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday at my church and asked if they’d want to write a prayer with me? 

The looks on their faces suggested I had just asked if they wanted to calculate the distance to the moon using a rubber band. I persisted. "No, really, prayers are just talking to God about the way it is, how it would be better and helping us get there. So, how is it to be black or white or anything else at school?" Sunday's prayer was the result of the two-hour conversation that ensued. Some of the references include Bob Marley, Tracy Chapman, and MLK Jr.

Pastoral Prayer 1/15/12

[g]od of our hearts and minds,

You’re too old, too young,

Too light, too black

Too simple, too smart

Too plain, too sexy

Too ripped, too flabby

Too successful, too tragic

You act like that, when you don’t

You’re too free, too flawless; hated, somebody else’s favorite

You’re arrogant, too humble

[g]od of our hearts and minds

Your eyes are unsettling, too big, too narrow. How can you even see out of them? Your skin clashes. Your nose is distracting, too broad, too narrow; your lips too full and razor thin. Your words, they bounce around and cut like a knife.

God of lost hearts, exhausted minds, shifting mood: elusive, become our desire, our judgment.  Fill the dry wells of human expectation with the blinding waters of love, joy, peace, mercy, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Be our soul force, free our selves from mental slavery, none but you can free our minds. 

We long to hear the song of freedom, turn the tables of our need. Whisper revolution, revolution, revolution, to every child, woman, man and every combination thereof.  Take our hands and lead us to understanding our freedom is inextricably bound; heirs to your kingdom, when we live fully, truly who you created us to be—a living symphony of your love.


Maybe the prayer will make more sense now, maybe not, but the making of it was prayer in itself.

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