How to Pray Like a Refugee


By Amanda Cleary Eastep

From out of the desert of Africa, my daughter brings home the custom of praying with your eyes open and your hands held out, palms up, as if you are just that expectant, that trusting, that bold.

The first evening she is back at our house church after five months of perspective altering, body jarring, spirit stretching missions training and service, she asks if she can pray for our small church family…

…and would we all do what the refugees in the desert do?


Following her example, the 10 of us extend our hands toward the center of our haphazard circle. I cup my hands the way my kids used to when they were catching raindrops or accepting a quarter for a gum ball.

But I feel exposed. Even intrusive as the silent requests of my neighbors get caught in my periphery. I am more keenly aware that what I ask for may drop into my tender palms.

PRAYER is the theme of this week’s #wholemama gathering of bloggers, but how do you talk about something so intimate…those moments I whisper into my pillow what is already on my heart before I even roll out of bed?


Lately, I’ve been praying about a major career change. I ask for clarity, for signs.

The confirmations ‘tink’ like coins into my cup. Where are the ones and fives and tens? I hear pennies instead of gold. Maybe because I approach like a beggar instead of God’s child.

So after 40+ years, this is my prayer life: One minute I’m tangled in early morning meditations like a lover, the next I’m slumped against the foot of a city high-rise waiting for God to pass by on the way to his 9-5.

I think again about the refugees. They depend on humanitarian aid, tanker trucks full of water because there is none in the desert. They depend on the good will of a country they can’t call home. And every day they open their eyes and face their palms upward.

I’m going to try praying like that. I’ll keep my eyes open (and probably see answers all around me). I’ll hold my hands the way my daughter showed us…the way we did on our last hike in the woods near our home.

My daughters and I took a narrow path we hadn’t seen before and discovered a shallow part of the creek.

The path ended at the pebbly bank, and we waded into the place where the sun glittered on the surface and the water overflowed our cupped hands.



This post is my contribution to Esther Emery’s #wholemama movement.

Whole Mama

Read more from this series:

Quiet Riot

When You’re Power Ain’t So Super, Woman

The Weird Transition from Mommy to Mother

25 thoughts on “How to Pray Like a Refugee

  1. Sometimes it makes the connection more real to be able to see your life as you pray God’s intervention/blessing over it. We can more easily give up and ask for what we can see.

    I love the last sentence about the water overflowing our cupped hands. Such a beautiful image.


  2. Amanda, you have such a lovely way of cradling and caring for words. But it is bold too. Thanks for linking up. I really enjoyed this post. Let’s be expectant. I’ll be praying for you and your career prospects.


    1. Thank you so much Gayl, and your poem fits perfectly! I’m glad you shared it. I’ve told you how much I love to be outdoors and in the woods…yes, it’s a different kind of prayer space that demands eyes open!


  3. When I was little, and before churchy people taught me it was disrespectful, (which I don’t believe now, but I was a trusting child,) I used to pray with my eyes open looking up at the ceiling. Or past the ceiling, really. There wasn’t a ceiling between God and me in those days. Sometimes I wonder about now, so I really identify with lover-to-beggar pendulum. I love everything about this post. Your writing is exquisite, and really speaks to my heart. Thank you.


    1. Even now when I’ve kept my eyes open during a group prayer, not sure why I do really, I’ve felt a little guilty. You are always so generous with your compliments, but I’m mostly glad you find something that resonates.


  4. I love this post! Everything about it. I think I’ll try praying like this, tonight in the backyard. Thank you for sharing this beautifully written passage: “One minute I’m tangled in early morning meditations like a lover, the next I’m slumped against the foot of a city high-rise waiting for God to pass by on the way to his 9-5.” This is exactly how I feel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad, Rose. For some reason I had such a hard time writing it. It was also a little revealing for me. My prayers are usually pretty conversational, so I surprised myself a little when the beggar thing emerged. I would love to hear more if you try praying this way.

      Liked by 1 person

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