By Paul Dumbrille.
In times of crisis, Prayer Matters. In this pandemic period people are turning to prayer. One small indication that people are praying more than usual, is that the number of people visiting this Anglican Fellowship of Prayer website has increased as rapidly as the COVID-19 virus pandemic has progressed. Is this an indication that people have suddenly become religious? I’m not sure that is the case, but it begs the question. How and what do we pray for in times like this?
I think much of our prayer in times of trouble or stress is motivated by being afraid. We are perhaps afraid of several things. We fear being infected by the virus, particularly if we are older, and/or have underlying medical conditions. We are afraid that our family and other friends will be infected. We are afraid that we might not be able to obtain necessary medications. We are worried that we won’t be able to buy or otherwise obtain enough food and supplies. Often our knee jerk response to fear is to ask God to “Fix it!”. However, what happens when God doesn’t fix it to our satisfaction? At least in the short term we are disappointed, and perhaps we might be tempted to turn away from God.
However, prayer is much more than asking God to do things for us. Prayer is the means by which we establish and maintain our relationship with God. This is a two-way relationship, in which God, the Divine Presence, is always with us and is a presence that offers “more than we can ask or imagine”. Of course, it is natural and okay to pour out our fears to God in prayer, but as Christians we need to be prepared to listen to God. We should listen to God telling us that there are others who are also afraid and are more in need of comfort and care than we are. We need to listen to God showing us the many ways we should be thankful for our situation and the many blessings we have been given. We need to find the ways of prayer that work for us, as individuals and as Christian communities, and to take the time to intentionally connect to God in prayer. One the positive things that I have seen is that many people and communities are experiencing different ways of prayer during these times when our regular worship patterns are disrupted, and our daily routines are so different.
God is love and experiencing the presence of God can vanquish our fears. How do we pray? One simple way is to use the acronym, ACTS: Adoration (praising God for His love); Confession (telling God where you have gone wrong); Thanksgiving (giving thanks for your blessings); and Supplication (asking for God’s help for others and self). We can trust that God is with us always, and God’s love will allow us to conquer our fears. One way I find useful is to substitute the word “trust” for the word “believe” in either the Nicene or Apostles Creed. In prayer we can “trust” God the Creator, we can trust Jesus and what his life, death and resurrection show us, and we can trust the Holy Spirit to be the constant loving Divine Presence in our lives.
Love Conquers Fear.