It is a powerful thing to put a face to a prayer. As a board member at AK Child & Family, I have received the emails of student prayers for a number of years. They are powerful prayers of students who note everything from small joys (I got a new journal) to big hurts (I’m worried my dad won’t forgive me). The prayers are real, heart-felt and unflinchingly honest. But I’m busy, so I typically do what I typically do with email: skim it, think about it (sometimes) and delete it.
Then I went to the AK Child & Family holiday banquet and pageant, held annually in December. The gym was packed with the buzz of energized students, families and supporters of the agency. Staff gave warm greetings and the buffet was full of hearty holiday fare. It was nice. And then the talent show started.
Suddenly, the prayers I had been reading (skimming) exploded onto the stage before me with the powerful force of the range of adolescent emotions. While we may not have been in residential treatment when we were young, most of us in that crowd could resonate with at least one thing that we heard. One girl rapped about her struggles with self-worth, another young man shared a poem about unrequited love. Students talked about problems in their families and problems at school. Some expressed themselves in dance, song or musical instrument. One group shared an anti-bullying message. Some had real talent, but they all had heart and honesty. They were expressing themselves. They were a force. They were healing.
The next time I received the AK Child & Family student prayer email in my inbox, I stopped and read it. I saw the faces of the talent show students. I said a prayer of thanksgiving for their joys and a prayer of supplication for their sorrows. The students were so real to me, so much more than names on a list.
It is a powerful thing to put a face to a prayer.