PRAYING IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC
Scripture encourages us to a life in Jesus Christ where we 'pray without ceasing' (1 Timothy 5:17) and 'pray at all times' (Ephesians 6:18). In a time of heightened feeling, in circumstances of daily change, we might value some words or structure to help us to pray. We aren't able to come together at the moment to pray with each other, but we can pray for each other and for the many different groups of people and places caught up in the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a global crisis, and as God's people, the Body of Christ, we can hold this world in prayer before God.
If we have access to the internet we'll be able to discover all kinds of resources. Many of us are not online, so here are some suggestions for ways of praying which others are using too. Whenever we pray we do so with others anywhere in the world, all caught up together in the praying of Jesus in the heart of the Holy Trinity.
Some of us may find it hard at the moment to put our prayers into words. Here are a few full prayers that could be helpful to pray.
Prayers in a time of Pandemic
This, by Cameron Wiggins Bellm, is widely circulating on social media
May we, who are merely inconvenienced,
remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we, who have no risk factors,
remember those most vulnerable.
May we, who have the luxury of working from home,
remember those who must choose between preserving their health or paying their rent.
May we, who have the flexibility to care for our own children when their schools close,
remember those who have no options.
May we, who have to cancel our trips,
remember those who have no safe place to go.
May we, who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market,
remember those who have no margin at all.
May we, who settle in for a quarantine at home,
remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country, let us choose to love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around one another, let us find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbours.
A Prayer Amid an Epidemic
by Kerry Weber who is an executive editor of America Magazine
Jesus Christ, you travelled through towns and villages "curing every disease and illness." At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love.
Heal those who are sick with the virus. May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care.
Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbours from helping one another.
Heal us from our pride, which can make us claim invulnerability to a disease that knows no borders.
Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow.
Be with those who have died from the virus. May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace.
Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. May they know your peace.
Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. May they know your protection and peace.
Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth.
Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace.
Jesus Christ, heal us.
Prayer for the Pandemic
by Columban Fr. John Comiskey
Dear Lord, Jesus brought healing during his ministry on earth.
He healed the sick and brought the dead to life.
By his own death and resurrection he brings the promise,
hope and means of healing to us all. Now we need his healing more than ever.
We need not only the healing from physical illness
brought on by the COVID-19 virus but healing for
human hearts, communities and world society.
Open our hearts that we may not turn in
on ourselves and our own needs.
Let unity, compassion and care mark us all.
Inspire us to serve the poor and abandoned.
May we use our skills in service of others.
May more fortunate countries come to the aid
of those less prosperous.
May we be concerned less about public image
but more about doing the right thing.
"This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples:
if you love one another." (John 13:35).
Some of us will prefer headings or lists or prompts to focus our prayer, rather than set words. Here is a list of 20 prayers to pray during this pandemic. Of course it doesn't cover everything, but can be a helpful start. We might want to concentrate on just one, or several, at a time.
Praying in a Pandemic
'Shape your worries into prayers' (Philippians 4:6, The Message) by Jen Pollock Michel
1. For the sick and infected: God, heal and help. Sustain bodies and spirits. Contain the spread of infection.
2. For our vulnerable populations: God, protect our elderly and those suffering from chronic disease. Provide for the poor, especially those not eligible for benefits.
3. For the young and the strong: God, give them the necessary caution to keep them from unwittingly spreading this disease. Inspire them to help.
4. For our local, county, devolved, and national governments: God, help our elected officials as they allocate the necessary resources for combatting this pandemic. Help them to provide more tests.
5. For our scientific community, leading the charge to understand the disease and communicate its gravity: God, give them knowledge, wisdom, and a persuasive voice.
6. For the media, committed to providing up-to-date information: God, help them to communicate with appropriate seriousness without causing panic.
7. For consumers of media, looking to be well-informed: God, help us find the most helpful local information to equip us to be good neighbours. Keep us from anxiety and panic, and enable us to implement the recommended strategies, even at a cost to ourselves.
8. For those with mental health challenges who feel isolated, anxious, and helpless: God, provide them every necessary support.
9. For the homeless, unable to practice the protocols of social distancing in the shelter system: Protect them from disease, and provide sufficient shelters in every place.
10. For international travellers stranded in foreign countries: God, help them return home safely and quickly.
11. For Christian missionaries throughout the world, especially in areas with high rates of infection: God, provide them with words of hope, and equip them to love and serve those around them.
12. For workers in a variety of industries facing shutdowns and financial hardship: God, keep them from panic, and inspire our nation to generously support them.
13. For families with young children at home for the foreseeable future: God, help mothers, and fathers, to partner together creatively for the care and flourishing of their children. For single mothers and fathers, grow their networks of support.
14. For parents who cannot stay home from work but must find care for their children: God, present them with creative solutions.
15. For those in need of regular therapies and treatments that must now be postponed: God, help them to stay patient and positive.
16. For business leaders making difficult decisions that affect the lives of their employees: God, give these women and men wisdom, and help them to lead self-sacrificially.
17. For ordained and lay church ministers faced with the challenges of social distancing: God, help them to creatively imagine how to care for their people and love their places well.
18. For college and university students, whose courses of study are changing, whose placements are cancelled, whose qualifying is uncertain: God, show them that while life is uncertain, their trust is in you.
19. For Christians in every village, town, and city: May your Holy Spirit inspire us to pray, to give, to love, to serve, and to proclaim the gospel, that the name of Jesus Christ might be glorified around the world.
20. For frontline health care workers, we thank you for their vocational call to serve us. We also pray:
God, keep them safe and healthy. Keep their families safe and healthy.
God, help them to be knowledgeable about the diagnosis and treatment of this disease, as well as the changing protocols.
God, help them to stay clear-minded in the midst of the surrounding panic.
God, deliver them from anxiety for their own loved ones (aging parents, children, spouses, roommates).
God, give them compassion for every patient in their care.
God, provide for them financially, especially if they fall ill and are unable to work.
God, help Christians in health care to exhibit extraordinary peace, so that that many would ask about the reason for their hope. Give them opportunities to proclaim the gospel.
God, we trust that you are good and do good. Teach us to be your faithful people in this time of global crisis. Help us to follow in the footsteps of our faithful shepherd, Jesus, who laid down his life for the sake of love. Glorify his name as you equip us with everything needed for doing your will. Amen.
Our churches are open daily for private prayer, where we will find familiar support for prayer, in our prayer and hymn books and our Bibles, in votive candles, pebble pools, prayer trees, stained glass windows, in places of stillness, and more. All these we can offer to ourselves in some form at home. This can be a time to be creative.
Coronavirus Diocesan Prayer
Bishop Gregory has written a prayer which he offers to our diocese:
Dear Father, who created us, and redeemed us,
and who has promised us your love,
be with us in a time of danger and of worry.
May those who suffer, or who are ill,
know the blessing of your grace,
while we who are well be inspired by your Spirit
to be wise and to be servants,
working for the healing and wholeness of all,
each in our own way.
Keep us calm and cautious, strong and open to service,
so that we take care of those around us, and also ourselves.
We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.