Why Praying with Our Feet Matters More Than Ever

Photo Credit: Vlad Tchompalov

The world is erupting – climate change, institutionalized racism, economic inequality, the destructive ideology of white supremacy which is rapidly rolling back gains of civil rights advocates in multiple spheres. Folks of faith can no longer pray passively, hoping things improve, while sticking our heads down in bibles and looking away because it’s uncomfortable. Prayer demands an active partnership with God to birth change.

How can we love God yet remain silent about the cruel treatment of the most marginalized among us – communities of color, the differently abled (physical and mental challenges) women, folks of various gender and sexual identities, and the poor, many of whom experience intermittent homelessness, despite scraping together a living working multiple jobs. “Almost a third of U.S. workers (41.7 million people) now earn less than $12 an hour. Nearly half (58.3 million) earn less than $15 an hour, ” according to an article in Fast Company.

Isolating ourselves means many continue to suffer alone because we choose complacency over meaningful change and connecting with the larger world. My friend Lenora quoted Rabbi Heschel on Instagram last year, and I couldn’t get what she said out of my mind – the importance of praying with our feet. And I began to looking into the story behind the phrase:

“When Rabbi Heschel returned from Selma, he was asked by someone, ‘Did you find much time to pray, when you were in Selma?’ Rabbi Heschel responded, ‘I prayed with my feet.’  What was his point? That his marching, his protesting, his speaking out for Civil Rights was his greatest prayer of all.”

As I continued contemplating the Rabbi’s words, it felt as if I found the faith I sought for so long, one rooted in a “radical revolution of values,” as Dr. King said towards the end of his life. I thought of Proverbs 31:8-9, which urges us to speak up for the poor, those who are judged unfairly. Then I began listening to and reading James Cone, who lifted up black liberation theology which places the suffering Jesus endured in a wider context of oppression:

The Christian community, therefore, is that community that freely becomes oppressed, because they know that Jesus himself has defined humanity’s liberation in the context of what happens to the little ones. Christians join the cause of the oppressed in the fight for justice not because of some philosophical principle of “the Good” or because of a religious feeling of sympathy for people in prison. Sympathy does not change the structures of injustice. The authentic identity of Christians with the poor is found in the claim which the Jesus-encounter lays upon their own life-style, a claim that connects the word “Christian” with the liberation of the poor. Christians fight not for humanity in general but for themselves and out of their love for concrete human beings.

God of the Oppressed, James Cone

These last few weeks have reignited my passion to return to blogging after nearly a year away. While I kept some of my social media updated, I was not quite sure of what I wanted to fully convey on the blog, but now, with the help of God I am. Live In Color blog is becoming Pray with Our Feet blog, which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism, with pieces on the lessons I am learning along the journey of motherhood.

I believe in the power of art (writing, visual art, etc.) and faith to spark change. I am creating this online space to refute the common narrative of Christian apathy about domestic and world events. It’s also a space to challenge the all to common practice in many churches of avoiding what is uncomfortable, this unwillingness to cultivate authentic discussions about the toxicity of systemic racism and other forms exclusions. There are too many folks of faith clinging to a false narrative of color blindness (differences don’t have to divide us), bristling at the mention of black lives matter (or the affirmation of any other marginalized group), while ignoring Trump’s abhorrent treatment of women and anyone else who differs from him, simply because he self identifies as a Christian.

Praying with our feet means consistently questioning “truths” society feeds us, coming off of our knees and into the world, sharing Christ’s radical love with everyone, the message of salvation and hope, and examining our own motives daily: Are we uplifting the status quo or disrupting it as Jesus did throughout his time on earth? What matters more – your comfort or commitment to creating a world of light, beauty and justice? Will you pray passively or in the spirit of transformation?

“Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.” Zephaniah 3:10

Why God’s Grace Changes Everything 

Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live. The law tells me how crooked I am. Grace comes along and straightens me out.” -Dwight Lyman Moody

There I was sitting along the curb adjacent to the supermarket shaking. I am sure I made quite a pitiful site – disheveled hair, mascara running, flip flops partly coming off. As I waited for the tow truck to move my car from the scence of the accident, two young women asked if I wanted them to buy me something to drink – lemonade, juice, or soda?

I thanked them profusely, and as my mind settled hours later, I began to liken the experience to God’s grace for us – unexpected, kind, loving, affirming, and showing up when we lest expect it.
He meets us right where we are, whether on a parking lot or on our bathroom floor. Ever fatihful, He guides us through each trial.

These past few years, I find my prayers are soaked with tears. I am believing for what I cannot see, and battling voices who would have me surrender to defeat. Each time I want nothing more than to wallow in sorrow, God sends a prophetic word, a sign I have asked for lately, or someone with a kind word. Grace in action, friends.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain… ” Hebrews 6:19 

Do you feel undeserving of the Father’s love today? Have you done something you say disqualifies you from being a candidate for redemption? I assure you, God is there, and He has been all along, waiting to hear your voice.

Your words need not be flowery or refined, just come as you are in this moment – broken, weary, confused, doubtful or frustrated. He knew these feelings would attempt to decimate your spirits before you were born. And He waits. God so longs to demonstrate the depth of His grace in our lives.

Relax. There is nothing you or I can do to earn it. Our assignment is simply accepting it and telling others they too can receive this tremendous gift. God’s Grace – infinite, expansive and rooted in radical love which defies all human understanding. I pray, friends, that like me, you will accept it. God is here, amid all the noise and messiness of our lives, waiting to comfort and restore your peace. 

Living by Faith (Blog Series): Writer Christina of The Whole Cook

Christina’s Instagram feed overflows with yummy recipes, adorable kiddos, a handsome hubby, and oh those totally relatable Mama posts.  She’s with us in the trenches of toys, diapers and sippy cups. But she is also a woman of deep faith and conviction. I love how Christina encourages us to delve deeper into the Bible and develop an authentic relationship with Christ in her interview. Grab your chai or tea and enjoy!

Christina Shoemaker Writer | Blogger of The Whole Cook blog

Everyone of us must discover faith for ourselves. When did it move from religion to relationship for you? 

I was raised in the church so I’ve always had what I thought was faith in God. I called myself a Christian. I now know that being a participant in church doesn’t make you a Christian. I didn’t know God. Not really. I knew and loved the idea of God. It wasn’t until adulthood though that I truly began to have a relationship with our Lord.

It happened when I began to really study His Word rather than relying simply on the messages a pastor or author might convey. It was through study that I realized I had never really known God or His big beautiful plan. It took falling into the pages of the Bible to fall in love with Him. I devote a lot of my blog to sharing that experience and trying to teach others how to study the Bible.

Before sharing your journey of faith with readers, how do you prepare – prayer, meditation, worship music, etc.? How have these practices grown you in both your walk with God and the craft of writing?

I pray before I start writing out Bible Studies for the blog. We are responsible for what we teach and how we represent Him so I pray for wisdom. I pray for the right words. I pray that He uses me however He chooses to use me. I pray that I fulfill whatever part He’d have me play in His plan.

How do you hear God speaking to you in daily life? 

I believe that God gave us His teachings in the Bible and that it’s through the Bible that we can best hear Him. Often I find myself struggling with a situation or question in my daily life. I pray about it and then I seek the answer in the Bible. I find it without fail. Sometimes it surprises me but I know that this isn’t coincidence. He gives us everything we need in His Word if we’ll only seek Him there.

What advice do you have for readers who want to deepen their relationship with God but feel overwhelmed or intimidated by it all? 

I’d say that to have a true relationship with God you have to be an active participant in that relationship. You can’t just sit in a church pew and listen to someone else describe their own impression of Him. You can’t just make requests of God while you’re in bed at night. You have to listen to Him. You have to pursue Him. You have to live your life in His will.  So where can we find his words and His will? How can we pursue Him? The answer is simple. Study the Bible. He tells us repeatedly that we are to know His Word. His answers are there just waiting for us. Don’t be intimidated by the size of the book or the sometimes confusing language. Set aside time everyday. Start at the beginning.

Work through it chapter by chapter and verse by verse. Use The Companion Bible and The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance so that you know you’re getting the best translation possible. Ask God to grant you understanding and just take it one step at a time.

If you’re struggling with a stale prayer life I bet you’ll see this dramatically change the more you spend time in His Word. Suddenly you’ll find yourself in regular conversation with our Lord.

You’ll start to piece together what’s happening in this world today. You’ll feel less fear and more joy even the midst of the things around us because you’ll know that He is in charge. He holds His people in the palm of His hand. What more could we want?

 

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