Are You Afraid and Lonely? Pray!

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Most mornings I grind and steep coffee and then stumble into my home office to write, mug in hand. I light a candle. Say a prayer.

Light of the World:

Fill my words with your Spirit. In the same way light radiates into the surrounding wax from the blazing wick, ignite my words with power, heat, truth, and love that they might incite wonder and beauty in others. That they might transform, heal, and bring hope. That they may point back to You, the Light of the World.

This morning, praying the above prayer a second time I said the words my life instead of my words. Ahh!

My last two blogs (here and here) contained suggestions for ordinary practices meant for staying grounded in daily life during extremely unusual circumstances. Today I offer the most ordinary of practices.

Pray.

Praying is not as hard as we make it. It’s putting one word next to another. It’s talking with God. And sometimes you don’t even have to use words. 

It’s believing in prayer that’s hard.

Why pray? Doesn’t God already know about the pandemic?

Yes. 

A few years ago I worried I might have lost my calling as a pastor. Locked in a depression, I had not talked with anyone about my fear. Even God. Then one Tuesday morning I decided to go to a Bible study at a pastor friend’s church. I vaguely hoped there’d be encouragement there. I was disappointed to learn my friend was on vacation and one of his elders was leading. I couldn’t get up and walk out.

“Instead of our scheduled passage, let’s talk about Romans 11:29-32,” the elder said.

I groaned inside. He read: “. . . for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” God spoke. “This is for you, Eugene. Take it. I know your doubts. I have chosen you. That call is forever. And no matter how hard the road, I am with you.”

God knows our needs even better than we do. God doesn’t need us to pray.

We need to pray because prayer is more relational than transactional. Prayer is more than asking God for stuff. “Hey, God, can I have twenty bucks for the movies?” 

Walter Wangerin, Jr. writes prayer is a full conversation: God speaking/us listening. Us speaking/God listening. Prayer then is a face to face conversation that draws us into a relationship with God. And it’s hard to have a relationship with a vending machine.  

God intends prayer not to be simply talking but also a partnership. God gave us two hands. In one is our work and in the other is prayer. Both are tools for partnering with God in the care of the world. In prayer we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Maker of the Universe in the daily maintenance of our worlds. God gives our lives meaning and purpose through this partnership. 

My best memories of my late father are when the two of us built a fence in the horse pasture one summer. My dad didn’t need my help. In fact as an eight or nine-year-old, I was probably a hinderance. But he made me his partner.

“Hold this, Eugene. Good, now cut the wire.”

Working with him, I learned his values and vision for life. I grew. Later I came to realize that also was how dad expressed his love for me. By working with me. Fifty years later that truth and that fence are still standing.

But prayer is not only a working relationship. It is designed to foster profound intimacy with God. In this way, prayer is to our relationship with God as sex is to a relationship with a spouse. Stay with me! 

 Like sex, prayer can skim along the surface and be about what you get out of it. Or it can be intimate, vulnerable, passionate, diving deep into the mystery of two becoming one. See Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. This intimacy, however, is dangerous and difficult. So we abstain or settle for mere prayer requests. While God sits waiting to dig into our hearts. And we remain alone and fearful.

This intimacy is God’s answer to our fear and aloneness. Prayer is God’s ultimate way to be with us. 

And out of that intimacy, we may ask for what we need. We know Abba is listening and cares.

@http://emilyelizabethphoto.com

 

So today, talk with God. Let God hear your hurts and fears. Listen for God’s answer. But ask too. Pray for those on the front lines in this battle against COVID-19. Pray for the vulnerable. For those who have lost loved ones. For our leaders to wield the wisdom of God. 

Will God rebuke COVID-19 just as Jesus stopped the storm on the Sea of Galilee by rebuking it? I don’t know. I hope!

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As you have weathered this trying time, how has God spoken to you? Are there any passages of scripture God has spoken to you through. People? Sermons? Books? Post what God has spoken to you in the comments. And also what you are talking to God about. All of us, God included, want to hear from you.

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“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35

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Prayer suggestions:

Pray the Psalms. 

Turn a favorite Bible passage into a daily prayer.

Pray the prayers of Paul in Ephesians or Philippians.

Use the Book of Common Prayer as a guide.

A friend of mine, Jeff Gayle, built an app called Daily Prayer that is beautiful and helpful.

Ransomed Heart ministries developed an app called Pause.

Write your own.

The YouVersion Bible app has prayers on it too. 

14 thoughts on “Are You Afraid and Lonely? Pray!”

  1. the major lesson for me from the book of Marc is the amount of time Jesus spend in prayer. Now, if the Son of God prayed so much, how can we not ?

  2. David Martinez

    Sometimes the silence of words can say a whole lot. Today is one of those days. Thank You!

      1. David Martinez

        I often bike commute. Those bike therapy sessions help with daily stress.
        Are you getting much bike time?

  3. Georgie Ann KETTIG

    “Fill my words with your Spirit. In the same way light radiates into the surrounding wax from the blazing wick, ignite my words with power, heat, truth, and love that they might incite wonder and beauty in others. That they might transform, heal, and bring hope. That they may point back to You, the Light of the World.” ~ I love these words!

    Our lovely Church cannot get together for any masses or group services,… but instead, I don’t go around “about business as usual”,… I kind of wondered what I would do, but took everything a step at a time,… what do I do?,… I’m careful not to get overly activated, and start throwing myself into “life things” headlong, before praying quietly and “checking in with God”,… this has led to me getting very very comfortable and warm, surrounded and insulated by several very soft and warm covers, closing my eyes and thinking about God,… thinking personally, and not intellectually,… thinking deeply, and not verbally,… feeling surrounded by comforting warmth and love,… quietly resting and deeply enjoying it,… for as long as it lasts, which has been quite awhile, actually,… perhaps my silent prayer is something like this ~ “you know God, I am turning completely to you,… I have nowhere else to go,… please heal me and strengthen me, and sustain me, with yourself,… thank you,… I love you”,…

    all I can say is, “so far, so good”,… God is good,… (-:

    1. Not being able to gather physically with others for worship is antithetical to worship. This may be especially hard for those of us who are wired to connect. At least we know with God there is no social distance. And you said it well: so far so good and God is good.

  4. Micayla Jorgensen

    Thanks for writing this and sharing your thoughts, Eugene! I always appreciate your wisdom and perspective. Your Wangerin reference made me curious — have you read Book of the Dun Cow? I bet you’d like it. 🙂

    1. You’re welcome, Micayla. Thanks for reading and–even more so–for thinking about it. There’s nothing greater a writer can ask for. I have read The Book of the Dunn Cow. It was my first Wangerin. I’ve read several of his books. But as I look at his website, I realize there are more wonders of Wangerin to read. What are you currently reading?

      1. Micayla Lansing

        I’ll have to get more of his books! I was introduced in college but haven’t read any of his other works. I recently wrapped up Jazz by Toni Morrison, and I’ve just begun The Master and Margarita by Bolgakov. Any recs? 🙂

  5. Totally agree. That’s exactly what God has been telling me.
    1. Use your gift I gave you to give me glory.
    2. Stop procrastinating.
    3. Read God’s Word every day.
    4. Pray – more and more.

    Blessings
    Janis

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