…pray for each other so that you may be healed. –James 5:16
“Ain’t nobody prayin’ for me, ain’t nobody prayin’ for me, ain’t nobody prayin’ for me, ain’t nobody prayin’ for me…” Those are the opening lyrics of a song called “FEEL.” by Kendrick Lamar. The artist’s existential journey of introspection sounds like a prophetic statement to a world that has lost its way because it has lost sight of one another; or maybe it never truly saw one another, heard one another, appreciated and respected one another—experiences and all—in the first place. I hear Lamar’s song as a deeply spiritual lament, where his feelings regarding himself and others being overlooked and even abandoned are capped with three convicting lines: “Ain’t nobody prayin’ for me…Who prayin’ for me?...Ain’t nobody prayin’.”
Do you ever feel this way? Like you are alone in your experience, and no one has got your back? Like there isn’t a single person saying your name with their eyes closed and palms open to the sky? Like nobody is praying for you? If I’m honest, if I were to make as intentional of a self-examination as I hear “FEEL.” making, I can almost guarantee that there have been, are, and will be times when I feel that way. The thing is that I try to beat those feelings off at the pass, flip them on their head, and use that energy in ways that might heal the brokenness of a world that tends to lose sight of itself. If no one is praying for me, I can pray for others.
Last week, our church’s youth group participated in a local mission trip. Each 12-hour day of volunteerism, interactive learning, group activities and discussions asked for a lot of energy and focus. They also required that the group adopt a sense of belonging where no one ever felt left out, and everyone trusted that they were mutually prioritized. We put this into action on Day 1 by writing down each person’s name on slips of paper, including the names of our adult chaperones, and putting them in a hat. Each of us drew a name from the hat, making sure we didn’t draw our own name, of course, and every day of the mission trip we prayed for that person by name. We prayed for them to have a fulfilling day; to have the health and strength to carry them through each moment; to have the attention span for every story, testimony, and nugget of eye-opening information we would receive; and to never lose sight of how loved they were by our group and by the God who tends to all of us with a steadfast love that never fails any one of us.
Praying for each other by name wasn’t a secret Santa game. At the end of the week, we were not required to reveal to each other who had whose name. Most of us never had final proof of who was praying for us; but the covenant we had with each other to say prayers for our assigned person every day gave us a communal feeling of belonging and trust that helped us focus more on the name we pulled from a hat than on the anxieties and worries always hanging out just under the skin of the person in the mirror.
So, is somebody praying for me today? I don’t know. But as surely as I am praying for others by name today, somebody must be praying for me when I least expect it, when I skeptically doubt it, and when I need it the most. That’s what the steadfast love of God feels like.