And so, 99 Prayers Your Church Needs [But Doesn’t Know It Yet] was born.
The Bethany Fellows is a groundbreaking project that serves congregations and nurtures new young pastors in the first five years of their ministry. Starting with a group of pastors in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and branching out ecumenically, this two-decade-old cadre of pastors would have the diverse experiences needed to write this book with firsthand knowledge of situations that require special prayers.
We brought the book under contract, and editor Cara Gilger wrangled prayers from more than two dozen contributors. The scope of the project broadened into six categories:
You can see both the joys and the challenges a congregation can face, sometimes simultaneously. 99 Prayers was written with the whole community in mind, and Cara did an excellent job crafting the prayers and balancing the collection’s ups and downs.
Know that99 Prayers isn’t prescriptive – you don’t have to read the prayer verbatim. Instead, think of it as prayer kindling, something to get the fire started so you can create the prayer you truly need.
Julie Zauzmer, religion reporter for the Washington Post, wrote about her experience sharing the book with her congregation: “[T]he lay leaders of my congregation passed the book around the room, commenting on one of these prayers after another. Prayers for overdoses and mental health crises, for a child facing a pet’s death, for the music leader not showing up on a Sunday, for the sprinkler system going off.
“For whatever situations you face this week, I hope you find the right words.”
That last line – that’s a prayer right there. Amen.