For many, prayer is an important part of everyday life, but especially in times of trouble.
For those who need prayers during these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, or for any other reason, First Presbyterian Church in Defiance has started a prayer tree next to the church, located at 501 Washington Ave.
Pastor Ann Wasson shared the prayer tree is open to the public as a place to leave a prayer, to pray for those who have left a prayer, and to seek peace. The tree was made available to everyone on May 6, one day ahead of the annual Defiance Day of Prayer that was postponed due to the pandemic.
“With people getting out now that it’s starting to warm up, we’re hoping that people who walk by will look at the tree and say, ‘Oh, I’ll do that,’” said Wasson. “It started with Pam Reid (a church member) and I putting up some prayers, but we’ve gotten a few takers so far. We also got a card taped to our front door from someone in the neighborhood that asked us to pray for them.”
Wasson explained the idea for the prayer tree came about when the church set up prayer centers with the help of the church youth, as well as Reid and her husband, Rich, who saw similar prayer trees during their travels in Europe.
“We set up prayer centers in the church out of the (Presbyterian) Youth Triennium experience (at West Lafayette, Ind., last summer), in which there is an extensive interactive prayer center,” said Wasson. “You can do meditation, walking, art work, etc ... that gets you in touch with the divine. We took those ideas and had small prayer centers for Advent and Lent, which of course got interrupted.
“When Pam and Rich were traveling in central Europe, they noticed a couple of trees by churches that had ribbons with prayers on them,” continued Wasson. “So we thought, ‘Why can’t we do that at our place?’ We picked the tree on the side of the church, so for folks out walking or riding bikes, they can stop and read the prayers, and add their own.”
The materials to leave a prayer are in a plastic tote under the tree, with the message: “Welcome to the Prayer Tree. We hope this may be a place of peace for you. You are welcome to leave a prayer. Stay awhile and ponder the prayers that your neighbors have left here. And we will pray for you. Come back often, friends.”
Included in the tote are ribbons, pens and hand sanitizer. Participants are asked to write their prayer on a ribbon (leave a couple of inches on one end to tie), to tie it on to the rope on the tree, and to seal the supplies back up in the container.
“It’s just a way for us to pray for one another in our community,” said Wasson. “We don’t know who leaves what ribbon, but we can offer up the hopes and concerns of our neighbors.
“I think we’ll leave it up into the summer, at least, and see how the ribbons thrive with the weather,” added Wasson. “Who knows, this could be something we do during the warm months of the year, I guess we’ll see.”