In the month of March, our Spanish speaking congregation decided to pray every day at noon for our Nation’s current political climate, specifically as it relates to immigration. It was an intriguing idea so I thought I might give a try, after all, it appeared to be a fairly low commitment with a clear end date. Now, I’m not here to declare one way or another the merits of immigration laws. Instead however, I’d like to reflect on my own journey as I “Prayed Through” the month with my Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters.
It should be noted that I am a third-generation, Mexican-American who speaks only English, (except when I’m at a Mexican restaurant ordering Carne Asada Enchiladas. Suddenly, I have a great Spanish accent). So whenever threats of immigration-crack-down blast through my TV, I don’t have any personal apprehension about my future. And if I’m being brutally honest, I don’t typically consider others who are daily living in the fear of suddenly being uprooted from a future they’ve dreamed of for themselves, their children and their children’s children. When it comes to immigration, it might be fair to say that I’m somewhat apathetic.
I don’t typically consider others who are daily living in the fear of suddenly being uprooted from a future they’ve dreamed of for themselves, their children and their children’s children.
Praying through is not about convenience. It’s about consistency. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” ~Romans 12:12
After praying through for a month straight, I’ve discovered there isn’t a “perfect time,” free from any potential inconvenience. Had I picked an early morning, I certainly would have “slept through” instead of prayed through. Likewise, my evenings are filled with long rehearsals and hang outs so…again no dependable free time.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have set my alarm to go off at noon every day but that was the declared time so I followed suit. There were a few lunch meetings when that alarm starting buzzing unexpectedly. But while it might not have always been ideal, that alarm never let me forget to pray. Some days may have gotten snoozed more than others but every single day saw me pause to lift up other people sometime between noon and 1pm.
It didn’t HAVE TO happen at noon. It just HAD TO happen. Without the alarm, I would have conveniently missed my opportunity to stop and pray daily. Stopping to pray was not always convenient but it was most certainly consistent.
Praying through was made complete because I was praying through with others. “On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, you also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” ~ 2 Corinthians 1:10b-11
My friend had also taken on the month-long endeavor and it served both as an encouragement and accountability as we checked in with each other. I know it’s much more spiritual to pray in the secret recesses of my prayer closet…a holy time just between me and the Lord but this was a higher level of discipline and I needed the accountability to see it through. I needed to check in with someone else who understood what it meant when I said, “I’m struggling to think of different ways to pray over the same topic.” It was he who asked if this exercise had spurred me to talk about immigration with people who better understood its implications. Without his simple but ingenious encouragement, I would have prayed in uninspiring, monotonous circles.
Then, on March 31st, at about 12:08, I was filled with joy that I had actually done it! I had prayed through, every day, for a whole month. And since I knew my friend was also feeling something similar, I felt compelled to text him se we could rejoice together. I was a part of a bigger prayer effort because he was doing it too…and we were a part of something even grander because the entire Spanish congregation was lifting one another up every day, along with us. Friends, That’s a lot of prayer.
Praying through opened the eyes of my heart to a hurting world – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” ~2 Corinthians 1:3-4
At the advice of my friend, I started talking with families who were feeling the pains of this immigration concern and my heart was broken when one young man said, “you can pray for my little sister. She is paranoid that the police are going to take our parents away and she will be all alone.” This pierced my heart through my throat. I know this family. They are very good, God-fearing people. This is not something that should be burdening a sweet young child. I now had several days of prayer fuel.
At about day 23, I was spending the afternoon with my daughter and my 12 o’clock alarm started buzzing while we were getting pedicures. As I considered how I would direct my prayers, my mind focused on the Vietnamese lady before me, cheerfully working away. I wondered what she thought about this immigration situation. She unlocked my limited view and I instantly envisioned our hurting world in desperate need of the peace and hope that comes only from knowing Jesus Christ. She was the one who helped me see beyond myself, beyond our laws, even beyond the Spanish, to something much, much bigger. The next 8 days of prayer took on a whole new level of urgency.
I believe it’s fairer now to say that my apathy for immigration reform has been transformed into a more passionate empathy for the world around; all because I committed to pray through with my friends.