Action Prayers by Rabbi Hillel Katzir

The great abolitionist of the 19th century, the former slave Frederick Douglass, once wrote:

“I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer, until I prayed with my legs.”

A similar statement is attributed to Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the great voices of faith of the 20th century. Rabbi Heschel marched with his good friend the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at Selma, Alabama, two weeks after Bloody Sunday, in support of the right of all Americans to vote. After the march, when he returned home to New York City, his students asked him if he had time on the day of the march to pray the traditional morning prayers. He reportedly told them: “I prayed with my feet.”

We people of faith of the 21st century are also seeking freedom:

We seek to maintain our own freedoms, as Douglass achieved freedom when he prayed with his legs; and

Like Rabbi Heschel and Dr. King and so many others, we seek freedom for others.

Like people of faith of the past, we must pray for those freedoms with our voices, in our churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship.

And like so many people of faith of the past, we must also pray with our feet:

–At marches and vigils, to make it known that we will not give up our precious freedoms quietly, nor will we see those freedoms denied to people who are as entitled to them as we; and

–Perhaps most importantly, we must pray with our feet on the way to our polling places in November, and get as many others as we can to do so as well, to ensure that those who seek to take away or deny freedom, will not be in a position to do so.

Prayer is anything we do by which we consciously place ourselves in the presence of God.

Brothers and sisters, let us pray!

– Rabbi Hillel Katzir, Larimer County Faith Leaders Caucus

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