Sojourner Truth, named Isabella by her master, escaped from slavery to freedom in 1826 and worked for several years as a domestic in New York City. But when she heard a call to travel, going “up and down the land, showing the -people their sins and being a sign unto them,” Isabella changed her name and became an itinerant evangelist for the causes of abolition and women’s rights. In 1864, she traveled to Washington, D.C., to encourage Abraham Lincoln in his struggle against the Confederacy, staying on to minister to the ex-slaves who had gathered in refugee camps. She was still there on December 12, 1865, when Congress ratified its thirteenth amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery in the United States.Common Book of Prayer for Ordinary Radicals, p.532
Sojourner Truth (1797-1883) was a no-nonsense woman who spoke to God in a no-nonsense way. Given her context, state of life, and the society she lived in, along with her work, it is no wonder she prayed prayers like this. The one I share with us today is short, simple, and to the point. It is almost as if she prayed as she worked with only a few seconds to spare. If you’ve ever read the Hebrew prophets you will notice a similar no-nonsense tone of confidence and desperation. Sojourner Truth believed what they believed: if she was to do God’s work on earth midst all the evil, hatred and opposition, then Divine Providence should follow her each step of the way. Here’s her prayer:
Oh, God, you know I have no money, but you can make the people do for me, and you must make the people do for me. I will never give you peace till you do, God.