As country after country goes into lockdown mode, I am thankful that the church does not constitute a building but a body. And that body that can bring hope to a world devastated by fear and anxiety in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic.
As many of us work remotely now, we find ourselves more isolated from not only colleagues and ministry partners but family members and friends as well. This time of isolation is a time for reflection, solitude, and rest.
And in everything, it is a time to pray—not only with our petitions but with our laments. As I read the headlines, I see stories of pain and stories of hope. Some of the things that come to mind that beckon the church to pray:
Prayers of Lament for:
- The poor and vulnerable—not only in our own communities but around the world where the majority live on less than $1/day. With 21-day lockdowns imposed, this leaves many in the world without food. Hunger and starvation is inevitable.
- Doctors and medical staff throughout the world are functioning on burnout with limited equipment and personal protective gear. They are putting themselves at risk for exposure to the virus.
- The elderly who may struggle with loneliness already and now find themselves even more isolated from loved ones who would otherwise visit. Singles are also in this category as are missionary kids who quite possibly are in one part of the world with parents and family in another.
- Those who are sick with the virus, fighting for their lives.
- Those with pre-existing conditions who need hospitalization but may not be one of the few treated with a ventilator due to shortage of supplies at hospitals dealing with limited resources.
- Vulnerable population groups exceedingly susceptible to the most severe complications of COVID-19: those with underlying health conditions, compromised immune systems, and those over 60 years of age, as well as young children and babies.
- Those who live in poor countries with little or no access to healthcare as well as countries with poor health infrastructure.
- Those who live in informal settlements or within refugee camps.
- Regions of the world where famine is already widespread or where there is little adequate clean drinking water.
- The poor and vulnerable within our own communities who lack basic needs and likely are struggling.
- Those we know who are sick with COVID-19 among our own family, friends, and community. The bereaved.
- Humanitarian workers who are exposing themselves to risks so that others have their basic needs met.
- Missionaries and other international workers who are sheltering in place in the countries where they reside and are at greater risk because they may be in places with inadequate health infrastructure.
- The likelihood that crime will intensify in poor areas of the world as people become desperate for resources.
- That the Word will go forth and not return void but that many may come to know God through Christ during this time of solitude and reflection.
- Those affected by anxiety, depression, or other challenges whether they be related to mental health or developmental, learning, or physical disabilities. That all would have the resources needed to cope well and find a community of support to connect with and be cared for -- especially in places where such challenges ostracize individuals from society.
- Churches everywhere which cannot meet in person but are finding new ways to share the Gospel and to be the hands and feet of Christ in their communities.
- Praise for many conversions in Mexico among people who are witnessing the love Christians share with those in need at this time.
- Parents juggling work and homeschooling. Families who are spending more time together.
- That all of us, even in the midst of suffering, fear, and anxiety, can trust God and grow in our faith. May we pray as Job, who said, “ Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…” (Job 13:15)