• Prayer

Praying in an Epidemic

Prayer is simply a conversation with God and there's no need for it to become technical and complicated. But sometimes prayer is difficult and it might help to try another way. Here are four suggestions for ways you might pray during the Coronavirus epidemic:

1) Use set prayers

Sometimes we struggle to put our thoughts and feelings into words, and it can help to use a prayer written ('set') by someone else - like this one:

Almighty and Ever-Living God, I pray for this beautiful and broken world. In the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, I ask for your healing, comfort and peace. Be with those who are sick with the virus, that they may they regain their strength and health. Be with the elderly, the homeless, those living in refugee camps, and all those most at risk of serious harm. Be with the doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers who seek to help those affected. Be with the leaders of all nations, and all our decision-makers, and give them the foresight and wisdom to act with charity and prudence for the well-being of the people they are tasked to serve. And be with all who are anxious and frightened. Amidst much alarm and misinformation, help us to avoid panic and selfishness and instead take sensible and generous precautions that protect the dignity and worth of every human being. In the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

2) Pray with the Psalms

The Bible is a rich source of prayers, especially the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament. There are many psalms of lament that give voice to a nation which feels abandoned by God and prays for a time when God's faithful love shall return, such as Psalm 90:

Lord, you have been our dwelling-place

    in all generations.

Before the mountains were brought forth,

    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,

    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You turn us back to dust,

    and say, ‘Turn back, you mortals.’

For a thousand years in your sight

    are like yesterday when it is past,

    or like a watch in the night.

You sweep them away; they are like a dream,

    like grass that is renewed in the morning;

in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;

    in the evening it fades and withers...

Who considers the power of your anger?

    Your wrath is as great as the fear that is due to you.

So teach us to count our days

    that we may gain a wise heart.

Turn, O Lord! How long?

    Have compassion on your servants!

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,

    so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

 Let the favour of the Lord our God be upon us,

    and prosper for us the work of our hands—

    O prosper the work of our hands!

3) Imaginative Contemplation of the Gospel

Another way of praying with the Bible is to journey with Jesus in his public ministry. Read one of the healing stories in the gospel – like the Healing of the Woman with the Haemorrhage (Mark 5:24-34), or the Healing of the Blind Beggar (John 9:1-41). Try using all of your imaginary senses to enter the story – how do things and people look? What can you hear? Are there things you can touch, or smell, or taste? Imagine the scene and put yourself into it. Become one of the characters and start a conversation with Jesus and trust that the Holy Spirit will inspire your imaginings.

4) Silent Prayer

Sometimes prayer doesn’t need many words at all. Simply close your eyes and settle yourself. Allow your breathing to become deep and relaxed. And just repeat to yourself silently the phrase ‘Lord Jesus Christ’ on the in-breath, and ‘have mercy upon me’ on the out-breath. You might sit like this for 5, 10 or 15 minutes, letting yourself drift in the silence, using the simple repeated phrase to help keep your focus upon God.

You can find lots more prayer resources, including the full text of daily Prayer and links to the Church of England Daily Prayer app here.