Bucket List Item: Get Prayed Up

by the Reverend Paul McLain


As these last couple of years have put all of us more in touch with our mortality, Ruthie and I have been more intentional about crossing items off on our “bucket list” – things that are important for us to do before we die (“kick the bucket”). A few of those have been going to concerts of favorite musicians when they have appeared in our region like Keb’ Mo’, Lyle Lovett, Five for Fighting, and David Gray. Other more important items have been making a conscientious effort to reconnect, reunite, and share time with old friends, especially since one of our childhood friends died from Covid during the first year of the pandemic.


A number of years ago, I saw a sign in front of a church promoting the preacher’s sermon that Sunday, entitled “The Christian Bucket List.” I didn’t get to hear her sermon, but I wonder what such a list might look like. I imagine making an effort to forgive and/or seek forgiveness to reconcile with those from whom we have felt estranged would be a vital part of that list. Those estrangements leave gaping holes in our hearts, and there would be a healing peace in filling those holes before we die, or better yet, to renew or restart relationships to enjoy in our remaining years of life on earth.


At one of our Baguette Brothers men’s Bible studies, a participant shared about his visit with an elderly man named Willie on a Meals on Wheels route. Willie had recently been shot. The brother asked him, “How did you get through the pain and trauma of that experience?” Willie responded, “I knew I would be alright no matter whether I died or not because I knew I was prayed up.”


What does it mean to be ‘prayed up?’ Perhaps it means that Willie spends a lot of time talking and listening to God. It may also mean that Willie lives his life as a prayer. He does so in the ways he makes good use of each opportunity to serve someone else, or lift someone else up with encouragement as he does for this visiting Baguette Brother each week. Ultimately, it means Willie feels Christ’s abiding presence at his core and knows his life is oriented toward Jesus and will continue to be devoted to Jesus, no matter in this life or the next.


Are we prayed up?



9 thoughts on “Bucket List Item: Get Prayed Up”

  1. Father Rene Somodevilla, a close friend of mine, the former Rector at St. Elisabeth’s, and past Canon to The Ordinary for the Diocese of West Tennessee has reminded me many, many times over the almost 30 years we’ve known one another to “Stay Prayed Up”. I actually shared that same sentiment just this morning with a Facebook friend!

    1. Gary, I’m glad the phrase, “prayed up”, has been a vital part of your spiritual journey and that the blog post brought back fond memories of your friend and mentor, Father Rene. We’ll stay prayed up together!
      Love and Blessings,

  2. Gary, I’m glad the phrase, “prayed up”, has been a vital part of your spiritual journey and that the blog post brought back fond memories of your friend and mentor, Father Rene. We’ll stay prayed up together!
    Love and Blessings,

  3. Paul, thanks for this “item” on our Christian bucket list. A simple definition of prayer is being aware of being in the presence of God. Perhaps, in a paradoxical way, we are all prayed up with the abundant grace of God.

    1. Bill, thanks for sharing your story with Willie and for adding your thoughts on what it means to be prayed up. Maybe God longs for us in prayer more than we long for God. As you reflected, maybe it is God who prays all of us up.
      Love and Blessings, Brother,

  4. I think being ‘prayed up’ is in the same vein as “prayer without ceasing” or “breath prayers.” All are concepts I try to keep in my thoughts through the day. All of these phrases reflect my (pitiful) efforts to stay mindful and focused, to stay in rather constant contact with God and to follow in Christ’s foot steps with joy and thanksgiving.
    As always, thank you for your loving thoughts.

    1. Nancy, I love the idea of “breath prayers” throughout the day. I think our efforts to do this, no matter how pitiful we judge them, are prayers that connect us to God’s presence. I love the idea of the Psalms as “raw prayers”. I wonder if our breath prayers are like that. If so, we’re in pretty good company!
      Love and Blessings,

  5. Paul, your suggestion that perhaps Willie “lives his life as a prayer” hit home with me. Much like you and Ruthie have been going out more lately, Ted and I have too. And while doing so, we’ve been intentional in reaching out and interacting with the strangers we encounter—feeling connected if only for a couple of hours. Covid separated and isolated us all for so long that we’re trying to bridge the gap with “prayed up” love wherever we can.

    1. Katie, glad Willie’s story spoke to you and that you and Ted are spreading “prayed up” love wherever you can. I’m delighted to be a beneficiary!
      Love and Blessings,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *