Exvangelical Meditation: “Plowshare Prayer”

I’ve found many wonderful anthems for my deconstruction – from artists who were once part of the evangelical crowd and now have the courage to ask questions publicly (Kevin Max, Derek Webb), to artists who clearly grew up in the Church as seek to find meaning in its symbolism while breaking free of its confines (Amigo the Devil and Semler). Their music has been light at the end of the tunnel on days in which I’ve felt like I wasn’t succeeding in anything except for stumbling about in the dark. But this song, Spencer LaJoye’s “Plowshare Prayer,” is the very first song that has ever given me hope that I could ever pray again.

I first heard “Plowshare Prayer” many months ago, near the start of my public exvangelical activism. Spencer LaJoye (them/they) filmed themselves singing it, in front of their computer armed with nothing but an acoustic guitar, a beautiful and sincere voice, and raw courage. It instantly rendered me a sobbing mess, making me both simultaneously reflect on all of the hurt that the evangelical path has caused for so many people while somehow, impossibly encouraging me to find hope in the concept of prayer despite that pain. So now that Spencer has released a version of this song that can be downloaded, I cannot think of a more appropriate time to share it with my readers. It is my sincere hope (and perhaps even my prayer) that it blesses you in the same way that it blesses me every time I return to it.

A little about Spencer, from their website: “Spencer LaJoye is a folk/pop singer songwriter, violinist, and vocal loop artist in Boston, MA who believes everyone is made of the good stuff. They make music to remember what it means to be human, to find connection in a time of disconnection, and to feel something in a world gone numb.”

On their Facebook page in which they initially shared this song, Spencer provided this background for its creation:

If you know me well, you know I don’t ‘pray.’ It’s not that I don’t know how, or that I don’t think the practice can be fruitful…it’s just that some of us get prayed for in ways we don’t want. In ways that don’t honor us. In ways that re-closet us. In ways that short-circuit our grief. In ways that pity us. In ways that really hurt. So I tend to avoid it in the name of do-no-harm.

But I was tasked with writing a song for Juniper Formation’s prayer/communion gathering on Monday, so I had to stare prayer in the face. And I thought, ‘What would a prayer sound like if it was used as a balm instead of a weapon? A plowshare instead of a sword?’

So here’s my go at that.”

Give it a listen, fellow exvangelicals – this prayer is for you, with all of my love toward all of you and with all of my gratitude toward Spencer for the courage to reflect, write, and share this with all of us. I cannot begin to tell you how healing it has been for my heart.

“Plowshare Prayer” — Listen on YouTube here.


Dear blessed creator, dear mother, dear savior
Dear father, dear brother, dear holy other
Dear sibling, dear baby, dear patiently waiting
Dear sad and confused, dear stuck and abused
Dear end-of-your-rope, dear worn out and broke,
Dear go-it-alone, dear running from home
Dear righteously angry, forsaken by family
Dear jaded and quiet, dear tough and defiant

I pray that I’m heard
And I pray that this works

I pray if a prayer has been used as a sword
against you and your heart, against you and your word
I pray that this prayer is a plowshare, of sorts
that it might break you open, it might help you grow
 pray that your body gets all that it needs
and if you don’t want healing, I just pray for peace
I pray that your burden gets lighter each day
I pray the mean voice in your head goes away
I pray that you honor the grief as it comes
I pray you can feel all the life in your lungs
I pray that if you go all day being brave
that you can go home, go to bed feeling safe
I pray you’re forgiven, I pray you forgive
I pray you set boundaries and openly live
I pray that you feel you are worth never leaving
I pray that you know I will always believe you

I pray that you’re heard
and I pray that this works

Amen on behalf of the last and the least
On behalf of the anxious, depressed, and unseen
Amen for the workers, the hungry, the houseless
Amen for the lonely and recently spouseless
Amen for the queers and their closeted peers
Amen for the bullied who hold in their tears
Amen for the mothers of little Black sons
Amen for the kids who grow up scared of guns
Amen for the addicts, the ashamed and hungover
Amen for the calloused, the wisened, the sober
Amen for the ones who want life to be over
Amen for the leaders who lose their composure
Amen for the parents who just lost their baby
Amen for the chronically ill and disabled
Amen for the children down at the border
Amen for the victims of our law and order

I pray that you’re heard
and I pray that this works

I pray if a prayer has been used as a sword
against you and your heart, against you and your word
I pray that this prayer is a plowshare, of sorts

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