The prayer list went on for pages.
I assumed the pastor would not read all the names out loud. There are only so many minutes in an hour long worship service, after all.
But in the church I visited last night, the pastor did. And what’s more, the pastor allowed a space after she read each name, and invited the congregation to pray the name aloud, too.
It sounded a little weird, like some kind of group incantation (like, I suppose, any unfamiliar recitation might sound).
But it also sounded like two hundred people praying–really praying–for the sick and suffering, hurting and hungry, lost and lonely in their midst. And that is powerful. Not because God answers the prayers uttered by the most lips, but because those prayers buoy up the people for whom they are offered.
Because when we pray out loud, we say, “come near this person, God.” Because in our prayer, we come near them, too.