Prayer is life-giving and also not always easy. God is not ‘socially distant’ so one might think that prayer is to be the same at the time of lockdown, as it was before or as it will be after. But when life changes, often prayer changes as well.
Any authentic prayer will reflect what is going in our life, too.
Over the last number of months we have had to quickly adapt to an online experience of communal worship. Prayer meetings and church services all moved from in-person gatherings to online. While this provided continuity in praying together in a new format, it may have also been overwhelming to a degree. All human interaction moved to online encounters. Now with the easing of restrictions and being able to go to church again, this new phase will bring much needed comfort to some, and will prove to be an additional challenge to others.
If your prayer changed over the last months, or you found it hard to pray, don’t judge yourself for it.
If your prayer carried you through, be grateful. Thank God for it.
If it was somewhere in-between, know you are human and God loves you as you are.
Experiences of fertile valleys and of deserts are both very common in life and in prayer. If you experienced any combination of these during the months of lockdown – take heart.
Where did you find God over the last few months?
For me He seeped into my alone time in the house, like sap drips from the tree giving it life.
“Sap carries important nutrients, water and hormones through the tree that are essential for a healthy plant.” We may judge it as sticky or unpleasant, but for trees it is essential. Trees drip more sap when damaged, when attacked by pests or diseases. At the times of difficulty, perhaps God drips more sap into our lives, by being near through His grace, mercy, love.
What kind of sap did God drip in your life?
Having to incorporate social distancing in our every-day life for now is not natural. Handshake, a hug when meeting a friend, instead of providing human connection have become ‘dangerous’. And yet, we still need them. Grieving these changes will hit some of us harder than others, but allow yourself to grieve if you need to. Bring exactly how you feel to prayer, be real with God in communal worship, in your alone times. Notice what you are grateful for, and where you need healing.
May God drip his healing oil into all aspects of your life. In Isaiah God promises us “the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit” (Isaiah 61:3).
May it be so for us today. Amen
Dr Iva Beranek is the Ministry Facilitator for the CMH: Ireland