What is Palanca?
The following is an article
published in the May 2000 issue of Conexiones, which can be
downloaded from this website under the "Newsletters"
I have come to realize the power and importance of prayer. In fact, when I go to churches and tell them what the prison congregation is doing and solicit their support of this ministry, I tell them that we need their prayer, their attendance at worship, gifts, prayer, their support by putting us on their congregation’s budget and prayer. We are told, in the New Testament, that “the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective”(James 5:16b). To be a righteous person is to obey God, who in his earthly form commanded us to love and pray for each other.
Prayer is the power behind palanca, the lever. Palanca is prayer. Palanca is not something written on a piece of paper. Palanca is not a trinket or knick-knack or any other item no matter how lovingly made. Palanca is prayer. It is the actual taking time out at times that may be entirely “inconventient” to pray for all who are attending the weekend. Palanca is not even intended to be directed at individuals. Palanca is meant for the entire weekend community. Some time ago, Dr. Randy Byrd, a staff cardiologist at the San Francisco General Hospital, conducted his own ten-month experiment with prayer. Of 393 patients to the coronary care unit of the hospital, he assigned 192 of them to Roman Catholic, Protestant and Jewish congregations, giving these people the names and a brief description of their condition, and asking them to pray for the patients daily. The other 201 were not prayed for. No one in that hospital except Dr. Byrd knew who was being prayed for, not even the patients. The results were startling. None of those prayed for needed breathing tubes, for instance, and the prayed-for group faired far better than the not prayed for group. Prayer has a strong effect, even when you are not aware you’re being prayed for. Recently I noted one or two movements touting the fact that to receive palanca from their movement, all one has to do is log on to their website and download it. Where is the prayer and sacrifice in that? No, that is definitely NOT palanca. What have we done to palanca? We have relegated it to a nice, artfully created poster with sentimental and spiritual sayings on it, but prayer and sacrifice are not apparent in such “palanca.” People of the Via de Cristo or any movement based on the Cursillo© movement, I call you back to the basic premise of palanca. Give up something significant while you pray; assume an uncomfortable position as you pray; lay face down and pray; stand on your head and pray; get up at 11pm, 12am, 2am 4am to pray; pray instead of lunch; get together with several others each day to pray for the weekend; spend a solid hour in prayer, anything that is a sacrifice while praying. Tell the people on the weekend what you plan to do, and then do it; but, don’t just send a poster, trinket or letter and forget about prayer and sacrifice.
— Rev. Carroll Lang