Go Tell it on the Mountain raises many important issues concerning the purpose and function of religion and faith in God as it pertains to an individual's life and the community one lives in. The setting of James Baldwin's novel is 1940's Harlem, a place where the characters face much oppression, racial persecution, and social emasculation, especially Florence, who has suffered greatly and feels as though the hardships in her life are responsible for the deterioration of love, relationships, strength, and hope. Baldwin's intent is to show that Florence's faith in God and her willingness to turn to him in her most desperate hour is the result of a woman who has tried but failed to live a normal and happy existence in a world that is full of hardship, hate, and despair without relying on her Christian faith for strength and guidance. For Florence, God serves as a coping mechanism as she attempts to deal with her sins, the demons of her past, and the adversity she continues to face and experience in her day-to-day life through prayer.
As Florence kneels inside her brother's church to pray, she realizes that she has forgotten how. Over the years, she has lost touch with God and has grown reliant upon her inner strength and courage to sustain her through tough times. As Florence begins to pray she is reminded of her mother, a devout Christian, and she realizes that despite her resentment towards her mother, she has become like her in that she now desires to be judged only in God's eyes. .
"That long road, her life, which she had followed for sixty groaning years, had led her at last to her mothers starting place, the altar of the Lord. For her feet stood on the edge of the river which her mother, rejoicing, had crossed over. And would the Lord now reach out his hand to Florence and heal and save? But, going down before the scarlet cloth at the foot of the golden cross, it came to her that she had forgotten how to pray(66).