With coronavirus sweeping the globe causing death and sickness, it is tempting to give way to fear and anxiety, whether for ourselves or for our neighbors. We don’t know how things will turn out, how long this will last, or what the economic and social fallout will be. Many are isolated in their homes, seemingly cut off from their community, grieving the isolation and suffering that all of this has caused.
Many will be wondering where God is during this time. As Christians, we can have confidence and trust in God, while also recognizing that we have a God who shares in our pain as we pray. As N. T. Wright says, “God himself is groaning from within the heart of the world, because God himself, by the Spirit, dwells in our hearts as we resonate with the pain of the world.”¹
There are many ways that we can still love our neighbors in tangible ways, but we should also continue to be active in prayer. In these troubling and confusing times, it may be hard to know how to pray or even what to pray. Recently, I have found comfort in praying alongside thousands of other Christians around the globe, using a handful of prayers found in the Book of Common Prayer. Far from being hum-drum rituals, these prayers reflect God’s heart for the world, Scriptural truth, and the groanings and cries of our own hearts. Here is just one example:
In Times of Social Conflict or Distress
Increase, O God, the spirit of neighborliness among us, that in peril we may uphold one another, in suffering tend to one another, and in homelessness, loneliness, or exile befriend one another. Grant us brave and enduring hearts that we may strengthen one another, until the disciplines and testing of these days are ended, and you again give peace in our time, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.²