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The Prayers of the People

The Prayers of the People

I find myself sitting in the back of the sanctuary. My toddler daughter remains at the front of the church sitting with some of her favorite church people. I take our 7-month-old and sit on a rocking chair. We nurse and cuddle. He fusses a bit. I listen to the service. Finally he can’t resist anymore and he falls asleep nursing. He’s in my arms safe and content. Wrapped in love. I rock back and forth. I see the congregation worshipping.


Singing. Praying. Listening. Fidgeting. Talking. Playing.


All of it holy. All of it worship.


For fear of waking up the baby I remain rocking in the back. It’s time for the prayers of the people. I silently offer my prayers of gratitude.


Gratitude for this baby.

Gratitude for rest.

Gratitude for the community surrounding us.


When not focused on my own prayers and the baby sleeping in my arms, I hear the prayers offered by the assisting minister. Prayers offered on behalf of the congregation. Certain words grab my attention conjuring a whole host of personal prayers. More prayers rise for this world, for healing, for love, for new life, for peace.


And for some moments my prayers exist only in deep sighs and a loving stare for my son.


I see the congregation members in front of me. I let their actions become my prayers.


Two other children sleep on their parents shoulders.


May we all know such rest and comfort.


A high school couple surrounds one another with their loving arms.


May we all have gentle hands to reach out to us.


Another family plays with their toddler and another passes their twin boys from caring hands to caring hands.


May we all be so deeply loved.


I rock back and forth. My son sleeps. I pray. Sometimes with words.


This sleeping, this fidgeting, this tuning in and out of worship, this longing, this loving, this holding, this noticing, it’s all worship. It’s all prayer.


One breath, one rock, one hand at a time.


These are my prayers.

These are the prayers of the people.

These are God’s people.





Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website: or follow her work on Facebook:


Image: Mother and baby in rocking chair


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This truly is CHURCH????????
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Rachel Petty


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