A prayer by Pieter Niemeyer
This prayer arises from my wrestling with God and scripture. Two stories from scripture frame this prayer. The first is relatively unknown regarding the daughters of Zelophehad, found in Numbers 27:1-11. The second is from Mark 7:24-30 regarding the Syrophoenician woman. These woman refused to be silenced and called out God in a manner of faith that changed God’s mind. These are scriptures that affirm hope and faith in a God committed to transformation aligned with mercy, justice and love… from which the courage arises to pray this prayer.
Prayer for Courage to find my voice for change.
God, I lack the courage to find my voice. It’s like I cannot breathe. My body seems to sabotage me. The knees feel like buckling from under me, should I give voice to what I need to say.
My stomach is in turmoil and what would come from my mouth, I fear, would not be words. My tongue is tied, and what words that could come, would only be stammered.
God, grant me courage.
I will remember Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah. The five daughters of Zelophehad, who in the face of the law that denied them, found their voice of protest.
What courage was summoned to call you out God.
How easy it would have been to remain silenced and just endure, and yet they found their voice to say your law was unjust- not fair!
I will remember the nameless woman, an outsider, a Syrophoenician. She, whom even Jesus called a dog, was up against the wall, denied.
Yet, it was there that she found her voice, and quipped back, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the children’s table”.
God, you heard the complaint of the daughters and changed your law to accommodate mercy and justice.
God, you heard the complaint of the Syrophoenician woman, whom you knew by name, and responded with healing and wholeness.
God, hear my voice, and those of my queer siblings.
We too have been silenced and treated like dogs by your people and your word.
It’s not fair. It’s not just.
God, we are calling, you and your people, out.
In the tradition of these brave women, I too will raise my voice for change.
A change of heart.
A body set free.
A voice of your breath,
received in grace.