Prayers

21 –Day Prayer Diary during Lock down period

 

1. Introduction

The corona virus has dominated the news unlike anything we have ever seen. Thousands of schools across sub-Saharan Africa have closed. This was followed by the closure of restaurants and many businesses. The borders of several countries of our Connexion have been closed to limit the spread of the virus Entire cities, and in some cases, entire countries, including the countries of our Connexion, are on lockdown and freedom of movement is restricted. Grocery stores have experienced “panic buying,” strict hygiene practices are observed in public and private spaces, religious gatherings have been cancelled and the phrase “social distancing” has been introduced to our vocabulary. All these measures have been taken to contain the further spreading of the virus and prevention of further deaths. The virus has not left any continent (except Antarctica) untouched.

2. Theological Response to COVID-19

This time in the life of Christians has invited the question “where is God in the whole picture?” The covid-19 pandemic has engulfed the world like a dark cloud. It is in this period of misinformation, confusion and anxiety that a sound theological response is critical. The following aspects of a reasonable theological reflection may give guidance and assurance in our context.

2.1.  The earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness. The world and those who dwell therein (Psalm 24:1). God is the creator of everything in existence. God loves all that He has created, including human beings. Jesus, God incarnate, came to the world to
dwell among us, to share in our human experiences of pain, humiliation and even death.

 

2.2. God is at work in the world, seeking healing and wholeness. Christ came to the world so that through him we may have life and life in abundance. In him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17: 28). We need to discern where God is moving in our lives and in the current pandemic to bring healing to the vulnerable, prevent future illness, and join God’s arc of morality, spirituality, and healing. Jesus travelled through towns and villages, curing every disease and illness. He appointed his disciples to this ministry of preaching and healing after him and we are called to join in this ministry as his disciples.

 

2.3.  The church is a people, not the building. Most of the church activities have been cancelled, including the Easter services. For a Christian to wake up on Sunday morning and not be in the fellowship of God’s people has been difficult to accept. But, from a theological perspective, it is impossible to “cancel church.” We are the church whether we are dispersed in the world, inside our homes, or watching our services via live stream. The church cannot be “closed,” only buildings can be closed. We are still the living embodiment of the gospel wherever we are or wherever we go!

 

2.4.  It is important for Christians to remember that this coronavirus spread has been taking place during the season of Lent. Lent has always been designated as a time for deeper reflection. However, in the busyness of the season and the planning of services, we may not have taken time to stop for times of extended prayer. The growing number of postponed meetings, cancelled flights, and cancelled gatherings, may actually provide more time to “keep Lent” well. Calendars, which once were filled with meetings and appointments, have suddenly cleared, freeing up time. Many meetings are happening through teleconferences, skype or zoom; but the point is, there has been whitespace created in most of our calendars. This is a means of grace. It’s time to pray. To seek God’s face. To listen to the voice of the Lord. To keep Lent well.

One of the central symbols of Lent is the thorny crown. It reminds us of sacrifice and self-denial. It is a symbol of the price Jesus paid. The term “corona” in “coronavirus” is a word which in anatomy bears the meaning “crown.” It is because the virus, under extreme magnification, actually looks like a thorny crown; therefore, it is—quite literally—the thorny crown virus. The coronavirus reminds us that as Christians we always—even when there is no virus in our midst—embody the sufferings of the world. Lent is the time when we are particularly reminded of that great truth. We are a people of faith, not fear. The gospel is, among other things, the triumph over fear. The apostle Paul admonishes us in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control” (ESV). This means that even if we have cancelled our gatherings and events, it is not done out of fear, but out of love. It is because we have compassion and love for those who are most vulnerable among us. This means that social distancing, self-isolation and lockdown, is not out of self-interest, but out of compassion and love for others.

3. Reflections and prayers for 21 days

This prayer calendar seeks to provide guided prayer and reflections for the world and church as we face this pandemic. You are encourages to set aside time for daily prayers and meditation. It may be helpful to schedule these times, find a quite space, light a candle, centre down and engage in these prayers over and above your regular personal devotions. There is a one opening prayer which can be used daily as you light the candle and before you get into a specific prayer focus. You also have daily bible readings that you are encouraged to meditate on in the course of the day.

Day 1 (Friday 27th March 2020)

Prayer focus: Families

Bible reading: Psalm 23

 

Prayer As our Good Shepherd, Jesus, we know you will lead us beside quiet places and restore our souls and bodies. We trust you and want to follow your leading. Help us to welcome this time not as an interruption in our carefully planned schedules, but as an opportunity to draw strength and nourishment for the journey ahead. Help us to share your love in our homes, to pray for one another, to serve one another. Amen.

Day 2 (Saturday 28th March 2020)

Prayer focus: Those infected with corona and those who have died

Bible reading: Psalm 107:19-20

 

Jesus Christ, you travelled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.” At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love. Be with those who have died from the virus. May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace.
Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. May they know your peace. Amen.

Day 3 (Sunday 29th March 2020)

Prayer focus: Unity of the Church

Bible reading: 1 Corinthians 12: 26

 

Creator God, we turn to you in this time of crisis it pains us to be separated from the Body of Christ, It grieves us to be unable to share in your holy gifts of bread and wine and to be unable to gather to hear your Word. Allay our fears, and quell our anxieties. Help us take courage from the thought that we are always one with you, and with the body, in prayer. Amen

Day 4 (Monday 30th March 2020)

Prayer focus: Peace and calmness

Bible reading: Psalm 46 Prayer Dear God,

 

We confess our need for you today. We need your healing and your grace. We need hope restored. We need to be reminded that you work on behalf of those you love, constantly, powerfully, completely. Forgive us for trying to fix our situations all on our own. Forgive us for running all different directions and spinning our wheels to find help, when true help and healing must be found first in you. Forgive us for forgetting how much we need you, above everyone and everything else. We come to you and bring you the places we are hurting. You see where no one else is able to fully see or understand. You know the pain we’ve carried, the burdens and the cares. You know where we need to be set free. Amen.

Day 5 (Tuesday 31st March 2020)

Prayer focus: Doctors and all health professionals

Bible reading: Jeremiah 8:22

 

God of Strength, accompany all those who serve us with such love and generosity in the medical profession and in all our healthcare facilities. Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. We give thanks for their continued work in the service of people. We ask you to bless them, strengthen them and guide them with your abundant goodness. May they know your protection and peace. Amen.

Day 6 (Wednesday 1st April 2020)

Prayer focus: The vulnerable

Bible reading: 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

 

Generous and Merciful God, fill us with compassion and concern for others, young and old; that we may look after each other in these challenging times, especially those among us who are vulnerable. May your example give us the courage we need to go to the margins, wherever they may be. Heal us of our fear. Amen.

Day 7 (Thursday 2nd April 2020)

Prayer focus: Leaders of all nations

Bible reading: 1Timothy 2:1-2

 

We pray for leaders of all nations oh God, be with them and guide them in this difficult time. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the
people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth. Amen.

Day 8 (Friday 3rd April 2020)

Prayer focus: Church Leaders

Bible reading: Hebrews 13:17

 

We pray that the leaders of the Body of Christ worldwide, will rise up in love and boldness, trusting in your blood to cover and protect us. We pray that they will throw off fear, so that they can be available to serve, bless, and bear witness to those around us who are terrified and depressed at being infected.
We pray that you give our church leaders wisdom and spirit of discernment as they lead your flock and give direction.
Thank you for your promise that surely, you will be with us “always, even to the very end of the age” so that we can carry on with the mission you have given us for our world. Amen.

Day 9 (Saturday 4th April 2020)

Prayer focus: The lonely and fearful

Bible reading: Isaiah 41:10

 

Holy God, who created us for & from love, in this time of social distancing hold us close in your arms. Comfort those who are afraid, enliven those who are bored, give courage to those who are distressed and warm those who feel the cold touch of loneliness.
Breathe in, with & through us as we walk through uncertainty into a new future knowing that you are with us now and await us there. Amen.

Day 10 (Sunday 5th April 2020) Palm Sunday

Prayer focus: Humility in the face of challenges

Bible reading: Matthew 21:1-11

 

Lord Jesus today we are reminded of your triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Give us the courage to face this turbulent period with humility and determination. In the midst of fear and chaos, give us your peace and willingness to do God’s will. Amen.

Day 11 (Monday 6th April 2020)

Prayer focus: Global solidarity

Bible reading: 1 Corinthians 1:10

O Creator, Our world is large, and yet the global community is so fragile. We glimpse the needs of our sisters and brothers, and those needs are great. We want to turn away, but you call us back. We want simple solutions, but you want us to help solve the complex problems. Through your Church, You call us to listen, to learn, to reflect and to act. Give us a deep sense of our place in this web of Creation. Give us the wisdom of mind and generosity of heart to seek your will in the world today. Inspire us to respond to the call to live in solidarity with impoverished countries of the world, so that all children of God might live in dignity and peace. Amen.

Day 12 ( Tuesday 7th April 2020)

Prayer focus: Sub-Saharan Africa

Bible reading: Jeremiah 29:7

 

O God of creation and God of life, we your people here in Southern Africa and in the world, place ourselves and our world in your protection and love. May your peace be with us and enfold us today, tomorrow and during the time ahead. Amen

Day 13 (Wednesday 8th April 2020)

Prayer focus: The Methodist Church

Bible reading: Matthew 16:18

 

God of Love, we the people called Methodists turn to you with prayerful hearts and with confidence in your loving presence among us now and in every moment of our lives. We stand before you as a people of hope, trusting in your care and protection. May we be comforted by your love in these anxious times. We pray for our Presiding Bishop, Bishops of the Synods and the entire leadership to be the voice of reason as they point us to the beacon of our hope. Amen

Day 14 (Thursday 9th April 2020) Maundy Thursday

 

Prayer focus: Loving God, loving others and loving self.
Bible reading: John 13:34

 

Lord Jesus, teach us to love as you have loved. Amen.

Day 15 (Friday 10th April 2020) Good Friday

Prayer focus: Healing from the cross

Bible reading: Jeremiah 17:4

 

Oh God, grant healing to those who are hurting physically and emotionally. May they experience your healing power during this period. Restore to them your joy and your peace which passes all understanding and knowledge. Make them whole again. Amen.

Day 16 (Saturday 11th April 2020) Holy Saturday

Prayer focus: Restoration

Bible reading: Joel 2:25-32

 

Oh God who works in secret, restore our world to its former glory. Restore the weakening economies of nations to a place where there is abundance for all. Work in your power to restore the strength and spirit of faith communities who are currently dispersed. Work in your power to restore us to yourself and to each other. Amen.

Day 17 (Sunday 12th April 2020) Resurrection

Prayer focus: A New Beginning

Bible reading: Revelation 21:5

 

 

Help us to see possibilities and life in places of difficulty, death and hurt. Remind us of the power of the one who arose from the grave, a place of darkness and death. Amen

Day 18 (Monday 13th April 2020)

Prayer focus: Children

Bible reading: Psalm 127:3

 

We pray for protection for pregnant mothers, children and teenagers. We are troubled by the disturbance of the school calendar and ask you oh God to be present with them in their homes as they look for opportunities of informal learning and studying. We pray for children who received meals at school and are now faced with hunger in this extended period of school closure. Make us your hands and feet as we look for ways of coming to their aid. Amen.

Day 19 (Tuesday 14th April 2020)

Prayer focus: The elderly

Bible reading: Ecclesiastes 7:10

 

We pray for the elderly, some in old age homes, some living alone and others living with family. Strengthen them, protect them and encourage them through your Spirit. Amen.

Day 20 (Wednesday 15th April 2020)

Prayer focus: Waiting on the Lord

Bible reading: Psalm 62:5-6

 

I will be still and know that you are God. Amen.

Day 21 (Thursday 16th April 2020)

Prayer focus: Faith

Bible reading: Hebrews 11:1

 

Lord, increase our faith. Amen.

This Prayer Diary was developed by The Education for Mission and Ministry Unit (EMMU) Rev Pumla Nzimande, Director and Rev Mbatu Bosman ( Connexional Coordinator for Lay Training)

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