The spirituality of pledging: Praying our way into 2021

November 9, 2020 by Robyn Davis Sekula

One of my favorite pictures in the Presbyterian Foundation’s collection is of a woman praying over her pledge. The pledges were collected in what normally functions as a baptismal font (containing no water, of course) and each person was invited to pray over the pledges that were dedicated that day.

A member of University Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas, prays over the pledges collected in a baptismal font. Prayer while pledging is an invitation to slow down and connect with God.

What I love is her peaceful countenance. It serves as a reminder that all we have belongs to God. It also reminds me that pledging is an invitation to slow down and connect with God. This year’s prayers, though, are probably going to feel and sound different. It’s not just about how my contributions will assist my congregation in carrying out Christ’s mission here on Earth. It’s about how our congregations are combating racism and helping to end poverty; it’s about how we are each connected with the larger world. This pledge season, I’ve asked pastors to provide prayers that address the uncertain world we are in. These prayers speak to both the process of pledging — clicking “send,” sealing an envelope, praying as we go — and the reasons why our hearts are aching for justice.

Praise for God’s provision — Holy One, giver of life, of strength, of perseverance, of comfort and of grace, we honor you, even with our giving. We have convinced ourselves that we are living in the land of poverty due to the pandemic and the systemic racism that plague our being. But, the fact of the matter is that you do provide for us. You do give us everything we need, perhaps not everything we want, but you are our heavenly parent and we trust you for keeping. Because we trust you for this, Lord, we respond with gratitude, with love, with joy, with commitment, to the fulfillment of our promise to you and your church. Because we have faith in you, we give. We give not just of ourselves but our material gifts as well. Thank you for this opportunity to show you how much we honor you. Amen. — Rev. Amantha Barbee, Oakhurst Presbyterian Church, Decatur, Georgia

Acknowledgment of what we already have is enough — God, you’ve reminded us to stir one another up for love. You’ve encouraged us to see what we already have as enough. We are enough. You challenge us to do the best we can with what we’ve been given for the good of your Creation. Whether we give of our time, talents or treasures, remind us that your grace has led us this far and will not abandon us now. Inspire us to consider what we have as being enough to begin offering ourselves for your kingdom on Earth today. Amen. — Rev. Rebecca Mallozzi, Faith Presbyterian Church, Emmaus, Pennsylvania

A prayer for virtual giving — Dear God, I liked licking the bittersweet glue and sealing it tight. That was my unique number on those offering envelopes. I would place it upside down in the plate, and piled with others, it had some heft to it. Now I just tap “send,” “submit” or even “checkout,” and I worry my lonesome commitment is not a tangible-enough response to your generous grace. As I click to make this commitment, help me feel the heft of your yoke and submit to the bitter burden of discipleship made sweet by your gentle and humble heart. Don’t let me check out, but instead go all in with your church so we can discern your way and be sent together. Amen. — Rev. Ivan Herman, Carmichael Presbyterian Church, Carmichael, California

Robyn Davis Sekula is vice president of communications and marketing for the Presbyterian Foundation.