What prayer looks like

By the Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell

Today, as we approached the school grounds, kids were running from cars and buses to the playground. When we got close to school, A.J. took my hand and leaned in to me. He doesn’t say much with words, but it was a moment of holiness for me.

Prayer is in the news a lot lately. Politicians tweet out “thoughts and prayers” after hurricanes and mass murders. I’m fed up with inactivity as much as the next person, and I know that prayers and good thoughts are often ways we shimmy off our responsibility to do anything.

But that’s not what prayer means for me. Prayer is rarely bowing my head and folding my hands. Prayer is often rolling up my sleeves and filling my car full of donated items from the church to take to the local shelter. Prayer is stopping in the middle of the street because the leaves just turned that beautiful brilliant orange that they do, right before they die. Prayer is holding the hand of someone in hospice as they are asleep, still here with us but slipping away — the act of touch, of letting someone know that they matter and that it is OK for them to let go, even if we won’t.

I can’t tell you what prayer ought to look like for you. But I can show you in this photo what prayer looks like for me.

Prayer is when my son takes my hand and leans in to me. Prayer is that act of connection, of understanding that I can’t do this alone. Prayer is the awe of understanding that, despite everything we do and have done, good or bad, and everything done unto us, the seasons still change, the world still turns, tomorrow will dawn.

Thousands of years of history and faith tradition teach me how to pray. They have informed my experience that prayer is powerful. Prayer is that deeper connection to God, others and creation.

The Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell is pastor of Queen Anne Baptist Church, Seattle, Wash., and ministry associate of social media for the Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches. She blogs at Rev-o-lution.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.