Years ago, it was the discovery of praying the words of others that brought me back to praying at all. My faith tradition had taught me to pray whatever came to mind after bowing my head. But when I discovered the tradition of praying prayers that came before me…those “rote” prayers that I could repeat, chant, or sing while slipping prayer beads between my fingers…I now had words to pray when mine were hidden.
Because sometimes there are no words.
When I woke up Monday morning I checked the news like I normally do. I hopped on Twitter, my trusted news source, and began to come out of my sleepy fog into what quickly became a deeper haze…reports of another mass shooting…growing reports of massive amounts of casualties and pain.
Sometimes there are no words.
I remembered that A Booklet of Uncommon Prayer had a prayer about terrorist attacks, so I searched for my copy of the book. When I found it, I searched through the pages, flipping them until…there they were. Someone else’s words that I could pray.
I don’t know what to offer right now. I am tired of writing statements and open letters and weeping while I write yet another article. I am also tired of calls to pray and unify.
…if we are going to pray, let us pray in ways that are radical.
So, if we are going to pray, let us pray in ways that are radical. Let us pray words together that will cause us to engage in deeper discussion afterwards. Let us pray in ways that invite us to look at how we are complicit, and how we are harmed. Let us pray in ways that allow us to feel our feelings instead of burying them until they choke us. Let us pray in ways that won’t let us go until we also pray with our feet.
Yesterday, when I prayed the prayer I found in my booklet, the prayer that many others are praying and have prayed and will keep praying in the coming days and weeks, I had words where there were no words. I pray I will also have action where I have not had action.
If our prayers are with Las Vegas, may we be brought back to a prayer that we pray with our souls…and please, please with our time, money, actions, votes and relationships as well. Let us pray and be changed by our prayers.
Micky ScottBey Jones—the Justice Doula—is a womanist contemplative activist, healer, nonviolent direct action organizer and consultant who facilitates conferences, workshops, pilgrimages, retreats and online conversations. She writes and speaks on a variety of topics including healing justice, communal self-care, contemplative activism, intersectionality and theology from the margins. Micky has an M.A. in Intercultural Studies and is an Associate Fellow of Racial Justice with Christians for Social Action. She is the Director of Healing Justice at Faith Matters Network based in Nashville, TN. Micky was named one of the Black Christian leaders changing the world in Huffington Post. You can interact with her work and collaborations on her website.