Here are some prayer stations prepared by the International Salvation Army Headquarters to help you navigate though praying for COVID- 19.
PRAY TO LAMENT
Read and reflect on Psalm 69:1-3.
Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.
I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
looking for my God.
Psalm 69:1-3 (NIV)
Which words and feelings come to mind for you? You may wish to write these down and see where your mind takes you. Instead of shying away from these, lean into these feelings. Think of the loss of life, the pain caused to families and friends, the cancelled opportunities and loneliness caused by isolation.
You may find it helpful to take an object into your hand as you do this – a piece of scrunched up paper or a stone, for example – and to hold it tightly while you think of these emotions.
After you have spent time lamenting, turn to Philippians 4:6-7. Ask God to hear the thoughts and feelings you have been experiencing, and for you to feel his peace. When you feel ready, let go of the object you had in your hand, giving it over to God. The object – and those feelings – will not have disappeared, but God is dealing with the issues it represents.
PRAY FOR THOSE IN NEED
Read Luke 4:17-18.
…the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to [Jesus]. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free
Luke 4:17-18 (NIV)
Use sticky notes to write down as many different groups of people who will struggle in these days as you can. If you do not have sticky notes, you could make a list on a single sheet of paper. For example, you might list the hungry, those who have lost income, the sick, the lonely.
Place this list prominently, such as on a wall you pass often in your home. Pray for these people, and pray for them often in these days.
PRAY FOR AN ARMY OF ESSENTIAL WORKERS
Use the map at sar.my/covid19 to reflect on the many ways that The Salvation Army is responding to the coronavirus situation.
Give thanks for how God is using the Army to meet needs around the world and to make a difference in communities. Pray for strength, good health and wisdom for Salvation Army volunteers, members and officers.
Consider the map once more (or a globe, if you have one), and reflect on the workers in wider society who are meeting needs. This includes health workers, carers, shop and supply chain workers, couriers, scientists, policymakers and many more. Pray for God’s protection over them. Give thanks for them. Pray that they will have strength to be able to do their job as well as they can.
You may wish to send a message of thanks and encouragement to essential workers you may know personally, and let them know that you have prayed for them and their work.
PRAY FOR AN END TO THE VIRUS
You may wish to ‘listen’ to the virus at the root of the world’s current suffering. Massachusetts Institute of Technology has produced a musical representation of the coronavirus protein. It uses a computer algorithm to take the material structure of the COVID-19 virus and turn it into a piece of audio. Have a listen (perhaps to just a portion) (also found here)
As you do, reflect on the huge hurdle for humanity in managing this crisis – politically, economically, culturally and scientifically.
Read Job 26. Recognise God’s power. Cry out to him for his mighty hand to slow down and stop the progress of the coronavirus. Pray for a decline in its spread, for a vaccine, for economic justice, for healing. Pray for the strength of God’s children.
PRAY FOR HOPE AND JOY TO BE RESTORED
Pray for all those in your community and around the world who are feeling down and who are struggling to process the situation that the world finds itself in.
Think of a person or household who may be particularly struggling at this time. Take time to send them an encouraging message by phone or email.
Think of reasons to be thankful! For many of us, there are plenty of reasons around if we take time to find them, from family and friends to technology. Find a large piece of paper and, at the end of each day, write down something (or things) you have been thankful on that day. As time goes on, every time you see that piece of paper, it will show the large number of blessings you have received through these days. You could even use pencils and crayons to be really creative and create a really colourful piece of artwork!
Consider the life of a plant. From a tiny seed, plants can grow into strong organisms bearing leaves, flowers and life-sustaining fruit. While we may not see quick signs of progress, we can be sure of the constant progress of the hope of new life. To remind yourself of this daily, if you can you may wish to plant a seed. Each time you see the pot or patch of soil where you plant it, remember that the green shoots may not be far away.