The Senate Chaplain, Praying - One Prayer at a Time - for More 'Wisdom' on Capitol Hill


The contrast sometimes is stark. Often less than a minute after Black concludes his peaceful prayer on the Senate floor, the fighting and partisan posturing begins.

He doesn't take it personally.

"I see prayer in the laborious process of the legislative [branch] as planting seeds -- and you never know when the harvest is going to come, and you never know when the seeds will hit paydirt," he said. "It's about preference, trusting the process and believing that the lord of the harvest will have a bountiful harvest to come in."

While Congress may be best known for being polarizing, not for necessarily being inspired by prayer, Black disagreed. He sees a private side to senators, which he says gives him his faith in Congress.

"I don't think an issue comes up in the chamber that I don't speak to at least a couple of senators about the ethical dimensions, whether it's payroll tax, health care, defense of marriage. You know you're dealing with right vs. right." Black said. "So that gives me probably a lot more confidence and optimism about our lawmakers than most of the American public may have."

The position is nonpartisan. But Black has a regular stream of senators who will actively seek him out to ask about specific parts of legislation being voted on in Congress. And when he is asked, he'll tell senators exactly what he thinks.

"I am not expected to put my brain in neutral and just not have anything to say about it," he said. "From the public sphere, I hold my cards close to the chest. But when I am speaking privately with the senators, I tell them exactly how I feel."

Black knows with all the fighting, debate and posturing on Capitol Hill, his job is never really complete.

"I have more than enough material to pray with passion, fervor and specificity," Black said, "and if ever there was a time we needed prayer, it is now and it's on Capitol Hill."

Off the Senate floor, when asked what he prays for in his personal moments for the United States Senate, Black answered in one word: "wisdom."

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