Thursday, June 12, 2008

Free Prayer

Getting off the train yesterday at Nostrand, and scooting through the turnstiles, I was invaded with a swarm of people in red smocks. There were from the nearby church, and they were all randomly shouting things like, "Free Prayer!" and "Let us pray for someone who needs the Lord..!" It's not the first time I've seen them there. Almost every week I pass them by on my way home from work in the subway, and every time I wonder how a prayer can be considered "free".

When I was a little girl, my parents were Jehovah's Witnesses. I was raised going to "church" or the Kingdom Hall twice a week, plus a weekly bible study and had scriptures read to me every morning before school. Needless to say, the bible, it's teachings and prayer were concepts embedded into my life at a very early age. I had the books of the bible memorized before my times table. Later on, around age 13, my parents drifted from that specific religion, and I went through a with drawl period. I didn't want to read, hear about or talk about the bible. Like having too many syrupy pancakes on Sunday morning. I just plain didn't want anymore. This lasted about a year. At 14 I started to spend my summers and weekends in Vallejo with my Aunt Sharon and my cousins who were all very deep in the Christian church. At first my mother made it clear that she didn't want me going to church with them. I was raised JW and surely any other form of Christianity wouldn't do. I understand my mother's perspective, it's the way anyone coming from where we did would think. But my Aunt Sharon wasn't having it. One morning she woke me up at 5 AM and simply said, "Get up. Your coming to church and I don't care what you have to say about it. Church vans waiting." And that was it. After that I went to church every Sunday with her, starting with Sunday school and ending with morning service and prayer. It opened my eyes again to the reality that my life is and will always be empty without the presence of God and prayer. No matter from what source, how fed and by who; I need Him in my life like water.

I suppose when it all boils down whether or not a prayer is promoted as "free" at a subway station, or passed out on street corners it's still the same thing. I don't think it matters if your part of a highly structured denomination such as Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons, or if you just attend any church that's close to home. If you believe in God and the bible, especially if it's meaning has been engraved in you, it can come from anywhere. The truth of the matter is, I find the best church I've ever attended is in the quiet of my room before I go to sleep. When I pull out my bible flip to a scripture and read a few verses, which turns into a few chapters. Then I think about it, pray about it and go to sleep knowing that I rest in God's hands, and His word is a part of my life and daily thoughts.