Archive for the ‘Praying with the Psalmists’ Category

Creation Psalms

Monday, May 11th, 2020

I’m doing a project where I’m looking at different types of Psalms and using the ideas to write my own psalms. It’s a form of prayer and an exercise that is blessing me every time I try.

Now I’ve come to Creation Hymns, which seem like one of the most straightforward types of Psalms. Some examples are Psalms 8, 33, 65, 95, 96, 104, and 148. These are hymns that talk about God’s amazing power in creating and maybe talk about how small mankind is when compared with creation.

In trying to write my own, it’s hard to know where to start. But lately, under Stay-at-Home orders, the sky has been more blue than ever and I’ve gotten to take daily walks by my lake on my lunch break when working from home. So I’m just going to start by praising God for the beauty I see every day.

The one other thing to keep in mind is try to use parallelism — repeat yourself, saying something similar in a slightly different way. It gives the writing the rhythm of the Psalms and gives the writing a meditative pace.

I’m going to try to keep it short to make it an example that you can try at home!

Lord, you didn’t have to make the world beautiful.
You could have created a colorless landscape.
But your creation oozes with beauty
and shines into my windows with wonder.
Each season brings new glories;
your wonders never cease to unfold.
When the cherry blossoms fall
and the bluebells go silent,
then irises quietly sprout at lakeside,
flamboyantly flashing their colors.

Scientists say that living by water is good for the health of humans
Is that because of the beauty of aquatic creatures?
Or maybe the soothing sounds of moving water
or simply the mesmerizing maze of ripples?

The sheer variety of your creatures is astonishing.
Birds alone come in all shapes and sizes
from the slow long-necked wade of the great blue heron
to the proud perch of the bright tree swallow
to the raucous cry of the crow,
the shimmering stare of the grackle,
and the sudden dive of the osprey.

Lord, if a sparrow can’t fall without your noticing,
if you keep track of myriads of creatures,
which you created in all their amazing forms
which you made with the wildest imagination of all,
then surely you can track my movements.
Certainly you know my fears.
Assuredly you understand my longings.
Decidedly you comprehend my needs.

And I will never go unnoticed.
I will always be in your tender care.

Now you try! A Psalm about Creation. What have you noticed lately?

Wisdom Psalms

Monday, May 4th, 2020

I’m doing a project where I’m going over different types of Psalms I learned about in Psalms class when I was a student at Biola University more than thirty years ago, and I’m using those Psalms as a pattern for my own prayers. My favorite is the Lament, which is a sort of paint-by-number and walks you through pouring out your heart to God and then remembering that God is good and is with you. But now I’m going through some more challenging forms that I’d never before thought to try myself.

I’d come to Wisdom Psalms, which has lots of examples — some are Psalms 1, 14, 15, 19, 34, 37, 73, 111, 112, and 119. Essentially, these Psalms are about affirming that it’s worth it to follow God, and it’s not a good idea to do wicked things. They often include the phrase, “How blessed are those who… ”

But it feels presumptuous to even try to write a Wisdom Psalm, so I decided to think of them as Pep Talk Psalms. What do I need a pep talk about?

I was still feeling stuck, when this weekend I found I needed a pep talk. I’ve been doing great with the Stay-at-Home order in my state. I’m an introvert, and I have plenty of things I do to keep myself busy and happy. But for some reason on Saturday — I suspect a combination of not getting enough sleep, having a small headache, and not having gone anywhere for more than a week — I slept late and then seriously thought about not getting out of bed at all because what difference would it make?

Well, I did get better when I got up, but I realized I seriously needed to add some sparkles into my life.

Then our pastor’s online sermon Sunday was on gratitude. I remembered the wise words of Christel Nani, a writer I admire, saying that giving thanks puts you in the present moment and helps you escape regret about the past and worry about the future as you think about what you’re thankful for right now.

So with that in mind, I went for a walk by my lake. It was an ordinary day, but so beautiful! The air is pollution-free with so few cars on the roads and recent rain. Everything captivated me, and little birds seemed to pose for me and the neighbors’ azaleas were blooming lavishly and I saw the first iris of the season, and my own balcony flowers were glowing, and looking at the day opening my eyes to all the beauty just filled my heart with so much joy.

So that night, I wrote this Pep Talk Psalm, taking Psalm 112 as a starting point example.

Praise the Lord.
Blessed are those who notice his handiwork,
who open their eyes to the wonders of his creation.
For then a goldfinch is a gift,
and the first iris of the year is a mark of distinction.
The green of Spring leaves amazes them
and the blue of the unpolluted sky astonishes.
With a heart of gratitude,
birdsong trills out beyond any noise
and flowers pop out of camouflage;
petunias glow in the sunlight,
and rhododendrons pose with raindrops.
Blue jays flash the cartoon colors of their wings,
and proud papa birds preen for photos.
Common things become spectacular,
and small things burst with joy
when the Lord opens your eyes
and shows you how richly
he has poured out blessings upon you
and surrounded you with his wonders.
Praise the Lord.

As always, the exercise of writing the Psalm blessed me to pieces. So I offer the exercise to you: Try writing a Pep Talk Psalm. If you have trouble getting started, think about how to finish the sentence, “Blessed are those who….”

My Own Salvation History Psalm

Monday, April 27th, 2020

Last week, I wrote about Salvation History Psalms.

Part of my point in analyzing different types of Psalms is to encourage people to try them out. Write a Psalm! It’s a great exercise in prayer.

So I wanted to do one myself.

Here’s what you do:

Make a list of times in your life when you saw God brought you through.
Then write about it! That’s the whole point — to go over your history with God.

To make it Psalm-like, I tried to use parallelism, tried to repeat myself and say things in more than one way. I began with an “Address to God” and finished with a “Call to Praise,” but otherwise it was a list of some highlights of ways God has worked in my life.

And such a blessing to go over those things! Because when remember what God has already done, it’s so much easier to trust that He will bring us through the current situation.

I’m going to offer my own Salvation History Psalm — as a way of encouraging you to try writing one yourself. Not because this is something special — but it is heartfelt.

Lord, you’ve been by my side since I was a child.
You placed me in a family where I heard about you.
I was trained at Christian schools;
I was encouraged to study and memorize your word.
I was praised for following rules,
and proud of how much I knew,
taught about things to do,
as if that’s how you please God.
“Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”
“Without love, I am nothing.”
I memorized the words,
but they weren’t yet in my heart.

We married young, and a baby came along so soon.
Motherhood was scary, but full of joy.
I wanted to do everything right
and my family to do everything right, too.
I did not succeed,
but You were with us.

I got teaching jobs when we moved,
a job lined up before I’d even found our phone,
(a landline in those days).
You opened doors and helped us pay bills,
make new friends, find a church.

With our second child, preterm contractions put me on bed rest.
My husband and our church family
made that time a blessing.
My oldest joined me in rest and play.
With the new baby, I kept teaching and working,
juggling child care and a happy growing family.

Then we started an adventure –
our family moved to Germany.
You promised your presence would go with us
and you poured blessings out upon us.
My first white Christmas
was that first Christmas in Leithöfe,
with treetops glistening
and snowy fields spread out before us.
We traveled to castles
and wondered at forested beauty.
We walked among the tulips of Holland
and looked out our own windows over fields of Rapps.
We climbed our own hill after dinner,
looked out over a panorama,
and smiled at the baby lambs.

When we suddenly had to move,
you brought us something even greater.
Your goodness seemed laid out with gifts and blessings.
A beautiful home in the hills,
with a view of the valley.
Then a job of my dreams,
dealing with books, seeing friends.
How did it all come crashing down?
Was my beautiful Christian marriage not what it seemed?

I’d told my beloved he probably shouldn’t walk in the woods
with the other woman.
Of course she’d find it romantic;
he’d be leading her on.
In fact, I’d like to walk in the woods with him.
It never entered my head he might want
to lead her on,
he might have chosen
a different path.

I tried to hold it together.
I tried to make things fit back into place.
I begged, I groveled, I cried.
Surely this was all a misunderstanding?

I read the remedies;
I tried seduction.
I tried to kidnap him
for a special date,
to rekindle romance,
to talk and connect.
I tried notes,
I tried emails,
I tried phone calls.
I tried everything I could possibly think of
to let him know he was loved.
Because surely if he knew how I loved him,
he wouldn’t turn away?

I still don’t understand how it happened.
I still don’t know when I lost his heart.
Before we even were engaged,
he told me, “I will never leave you.”
He’d promised to love and cherish me
for better, or for worse.
I don’t know why he decided those vows didn’t matter
and that I wasn’t worthy of love.
He told me he couldn’t forgive me.
He told me I was a terrible wife.
But the truth is that I was at least faithful.
And I at least gave my all to keep on loving him
even when all hope was lost.

You, Lord, were gentle with me
when my husband was harsh.
You sent my offenses away as far as the east is from the west
when my husband brought up words spoken eighteen years before.
“O Lord, if you kept a record of wrongs,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so we can, with reverence, serve you.”

My husband may not have forgiven my shortcomings,
but You did.
You showed me
that You had great things in store for me.

I wanted to stay near my husband,
but You let him run to the other side of the earth.
And once we had the world between us,
You poured out blessings on me.

You showed me I was Loved.
You told me I shone like a star.
You declared Yourself my husband for this season.
You sent me into the wilderness
and spoke tenderly to me.

And your people!
They moved me into a new home,
not once but thrice –
even with all my hoards of books,
they literally bore my burdens.

You gave me libraries!
A job, a profession, a calling!
First part-time, close by my home,
and then full-time, even closer.
I was in my forties and newly-minted with my degree,
yet I was welcomed in service to children.
I got to share the joys of books.

Disappointments came later:
Budget cuts sent me away from the library,
into exile for six months.
Twice I was rejected for the William Morris Seminar
and to be a Cybils judge.
I missed being elected to the Newbery committee by fifteen votes,
and I didn’t get the Selector job I’d wanted so much.
Nor did I get chosen for the position in Oregon near my kids.

But You were with me, Lord.
The disappointments always worked out for something better,
always, every time.
even the divorce, the biggest disappointment of all.

I got back to the library,
now working in a Regional branch,
I was well-positioned to promote.
I worked with new friends
and colleagues it was a delight to see each day.

I got to attend the William Morris Seminar
and be a Cybils judge,
all in good time.
Best of all was being elected to the Newbery committee
when my empty nest was fresh
and I could use my time to read.

As if that weren’t enough,
I won the Allie Beth Martin
a national award for knowledge of books
and distinguished ability to share that knowledge.
Who knew such an award existed?
And that I would receive the honorarium
exactly after home repairs put me in debt
for that exact amount?

Another disappointment happened when I was looking for a home –
my first offer fell through.
And then as soon as that was definite,
a condo came on the market
with an amazing lake view,
in my price range,
in driving distance of the library,
and just the right size for me and my books.
That place where I “spread my tent curtains wide”
blesses me to this day,
as I walk by my lake,
take pictures of birds and flowers and leaves,
and marvel in the beauty of the world the Lord has made.

Praise the Lord!
For every day He surrounds me with His beauty.
He turns my disappointments into dancing,
my setbacks into successes,
my crying into singing.

Praise the Lord!

Remembering God’s Faithfulness

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

Back in the 1980s when I was a student at Biola University, I took an amazing class on the Psalms taught by Dr. Edward Curtis. He taught us about the many different types of Psalms and opened my eyes to things about them I hadn’t noticed before.

Today I was reading in Psalm 129. The beginning goes like this:

“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,”
let Israel say;
“they have greatly oppressed me from my youth,
but they have not gained the victory over me.
Plowmen have plowed my back
and made their furrows long.
But the Lord is righteous;
he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.”

That got me thinking about the Salvation History Psalms. Unlike the Lament, Salvation History Psalms are defined more by their content than by their form. They are Psalms where the writer reviews what God has done and what God has brought them through. That’s offered as evidence that God can bring them through the current situation.

Can you see why I got to thinking about them?

On top of that, I was moved by my pastor’s online sermon on Easter Sunday. He said that in the middle of a pandemic, Easter doesn’t feel like Easter. But he reminded us that the first Easter didn’t feel like Easter, either.

Before the first Easter, things were very dark indeed. But the light came. And because of what God brought those first disciples through then, we remember now that God is with us in the darkness.

That’s what Salvation History Psalms were all about. They rehearsed what God had done, bringing His people out from slavery in Egypt in the Exodus, listing out more ways God had delivered them. And because God did that — we know He’s not going to abandon His people now.

Some examples of Salvation History Psalms are Psalm 78, 105, 106, 135, and 136. The theme of these Psalms is: Remember!

These Psalms are long, telling stories, so I won’t write out the whole Psalms. But here are some verses that give the idea.

Psalm 78:4–

We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.

Psalm 105:5-6–

Remember the wonders he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
you his servants, the descendants of Abraham,
his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.

Psalm 106:6–

We have sinned, even as our ancestors did;
we have done wrong and acted wickedly.

Psalm 135:3-4–

Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;
sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.
For the Lord has chosen Jacob to be his own,
Israel to be his treasured possession.

Psalm 136:10-12–

to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.

Salvation History Psalms are different from Thanksgiving Psalms. Those are more about a specific time when God came through. The Salvation History Psalms tend to be about the history of the people of Israel and how God had a pattern of taking care of them.

How can we use this in our own prayers? Well, you can think through the collective history of the Church. You can also make it personal and recite more of a history of how faithful God has been to you. Beyond any one incident.

With all of these: Because God has been with us in the past, we know He is with us now. Reciting the history of how God has been with us reminds us we don’t need to be afraid.

My plan was to write one and leave it as an example. But it almost feels too personal.

So for now, I’m going to go offline and make myself a list of ways God has worked in my life when I’ve gone through darkness and He has shown that He is there.

Will that help me in the midst of a pandemic? Yes it will. Because whatever happens, I do believe the Lord will walk with me.

As Jesus said to his disciples before his death:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Praying in Crazy Times

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

During this pandemic, I’ve heard people say they don’t even know how to pray.

I’m thinking about the Psalms lately as I think about praying. I do believe there are many ways to pray — but some of those ways are to pray like the psalmists.

I’ve been looking at laments lately. An interesting thing about laments is that in the Psalms, they generally spend a lot more time telling God what the problem is than they do telling him what they want him to do about it. It’s almost like praying is more for our benefit than it is for God’s.

Over the years, I’ve often been told to pray specific prayers, because then you can see when God has answered. I’ve been told to name it and claim it.

And yes, we’re supposed to lay our requests before God with thanksgiving. There’s nothing wrong with telling him what we want to happen. He’s said, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

But what is the difference between asking God and telling him what to do?

Take a look at the Psalms. They pour out their hearts to God about the big mess they’re in, and then they ask God to act. They ask God for help. They aren’t usually terribly specific about what form the help needs to take. In fact, it seems like they actually trust God to figure out what should be done.

I think about when my husband left me. For years, I prayed that God would bring him back. It took a long time before I realized that I wasn’t trusting God. I was telling him what I thought needed to happen.

God did answer my prayers for help. He granted me protection and security, a new job, a new home, and a church family that cared about me. He took my relationship with himself to a whole new level.

In fact, he graciously granted me an abundance of blessings I’d never thought to ask for.

There was a key moment for me when I realized that “standing for my marriage” wasn’t actually trusting God. Could I trust God to help me and bless me when I was not deciding what the outcome had to be?

Take a look at some Psalms. You can almost page through and take your pick, but I’ll point out a couple where it’s really striking.

Look at Psalm 44. The psalmist goes on for 22 verses about how bad things have gotten. Then they end with these four verses:

Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression?
We are brought down to the dust;
our bodies cling to the ground.
Rise up and help us;
rescue us because of your unfailing love.

Another good example is Psalm 10. This one is a more complete lament, and it’s got the “Words of Assurance” section after the “Petition.” In fact, out of 18 verses, there is only one where he asks God to do anything, and that verse is short and sweet:

Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.

So this is an idea for praying during this pandemic. I’m not saying this is the only way to pray. But as an exercise, try pouring out to God all your worries and all the ways things are not going well.

And then ask him:

Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.

It doesn’t hurt, after that, to continue with the form of the lament. Remind yourself that you really do believe that God can handle this. Make some promises about how you’re going to celebrate when God brings you through!

But I for sure don’t know what God should do about this global pandemic. I’m glad that I do trust that he knows, and that he will have mercy.

But you, O God, do see trouble and grief.
You consider it to take it in hand.
The victim commits himself to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.

Walk with us, Lord.

A Psalm from the Scatterbrained

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

I’m feeling scatterbrained this week. I’m trying to focus and failing. Tonight I was trying to get to working on my Psalms book again and just going nowhere.

That’s when I thought: I want more example Psalms. To show that you can use these forms to pray and it really helps, because they direct your thoughts. Why not write a Psalm Prayer about it?

I’ve done Laments. But tonight I tried a Penitential Psalm. Because I’m pretty sure it’s my own fault I’m getting worried and distracted. I’m not trusting God; I’m trying to figure things out myself.

A Penitential Psalm has pretty much the same form as a Lament, but you ask God for mercy in the address to God and the complaint part talks about how bad things have gotten because of what you’ve done, so it’s also confession. (See Psalms 6, 38, and 51.)

Let me review the parts:
1) Address to God
2) Complaint
3) Confession of Trust
4) Petition
5) Words of Assurance
6) Vow to Praise

Okay, I tried not to edit too much and just pray it through, so this doesn’t pretend to be polished. But here goes:

A Psalm from the Scatterbrained

Father, have mercy on me,
according to your unfailing love.
Look on my situation and have compassion;
see my failings and grant me grace.

We’re in a pandemic,
and the world has turned upside-down.
I don’t know what’s normal,
and I don’t know how to plan.
My thoughts are bouncing around my brain
like ping-pong balls.
I’m having trouble focusing,
distracted by each new announcement or speculation.

My work serving the public has come to a halt.
Helping people in person spreads germs.
So now we look for ways to help
while keeping everyone at a distance.
I write reviews;
I read those journals that were stacking up.
Will I learn about customer service
while staying away from customers?

What’s the problem? As an introvert,
being at home should give me focus.
But instead, I’m scatterbrained.

I want to know what to expect,
how to plan,
what date to schedule the make-up programs
and when the books are due.

It’s out of my hands.
It’s out of my hands.
Wash those hands free of germs
and free of holding the world.

Lord, is this what it takes
to show me my plans are butterflies?
Does it take a pandemic
for me to realize I’m not in control?

You do see the future.
You do watch over your children.
If you see a sparrow fall,
then you know today’s death count.
And you are there.
And you gently bear each soul to heaven.

You’ve told us that riches are fleeting.
You’ve told us our life is a breath.
Does it take a pandemic
to make us understand?

Lord, walk with your children.
Forgive us when we run ahead.
Hold our hands through the dark fearful chasm
and carry us safely out of the fire.

Lord, do not forsake us!
Show yourself by our sides.
Come quickly to help us
and grant us peace and strength.

We don’t know how this pandemic will end.
We don’t know what our lives will look like next season.
But we know you will be with us
and show us new joys on the other side.

The day will come
when we again shake hands with new friends
and throw our arms around old friends.

The time will come
when we again meet as a choir
to join our voices in praises to God,
and lift our voices together to our Mighty Fortress.

Do Try This At Home!

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

I got some wonderful responses to yesterday’s Lament for Covid-19. People said it touched them.

But that wasn’t what I was going for. What I wanted was for people to say: I can do that!

I want to motivate people to try this way of praying themselves. I think I’m going to have to post a much shorter example.

But before I do, I want to point out something that blessed me in writing yesterday’s lament. I already knew that what I love about the form of the lament is that Thanksgiving is built in. It automatically includes what Christians are taught in Philippians 4:6-7 – to present your requests before God with thanksgiving.

But I wasn’t prepared for how powerfully the “Vow to Praise” would hit me. You make promises of what you’re going to do when God comes through and answers your prayer. I started imagining all the people I’m going to hug when this Covid-19 crisis is over… and that was more powerful to me than anything else I thought about.

Okay, now let me write a short lament. Here again are the parts:

1) Address to God
2) Complaint
3) Confession of Trust
4) Petition
5) Words of Assurance
6) Vow to Praise

I’m also going to use parallelism, like the Psalms do – which just means saying the same thing in a different way on the next line.

A Shorter Lament for the Sick

Hear my voice, Lord,
I’m calling because you’re the only one who can help.

Thousands are sick across our country,
suffering, alone, scared.
Our hospitals are filling,
and their workers are risking their lives.
Others at home are wondering
at what point do they need to get help?

We trust you, Lord.
We know you see each one of us.
You are with us
and we are never alone.
You are the Great Physician,
and you have the power to heal.
You give wisdom to the healers
and comfort to the sick.

Lord, have mercy.
Grant your help and healing.
Give wisdom to everyone seeking a cure,
stamina to everyone helping the sick,
comfort to everyone ravaged by illness,
and protection to everyone still healthy.

We will get through this.
As a community,
as a country,
and all humanity together.
We will once again create vaccines and treatments.
We will conquer this illness
long before it conquers us.
And that is because of the
wisdom and grace you have granted
to humankind.

Lord, when the church meets again,
we’re going to do lots of touching.
We’ll share communion
and envelop each other in hugs.

When the library reopens,
we’re going to sing “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes”
and touch our eyes and ears and mouth and nose
with great excitement.
And then again, faster!

Okay, your turn! Do you have something that needs prayer? Try a Lament. God can take your complaints, and it will do your heart good to plan how you’re going to celebrate when He answers.

A Lament for Covid-19

Monday, March 23rd, 2020

I’ve been thinking for a long time about praying like the Psalmists, using the forms of Hebrew poetry to pray.

The Lament is the most common form in the Psalms, and it’s a wonderful form because you fully complain, but the form brings you back around to remembering that God’s going to take care of this. You even plan how you will rejoice when you get through it. So — I’m going to do a practice Lament about the coronavirus.

This isn’t polished, it’s not pretty. But I want it to be something anyone can do.

I wrote this with two things in mind: I tried to use parallelism, repeating myself. And I tried to use the form of a Lament:

1) Address to God
2) Complaint
3) Confession of Trust
4) Petition
5) Words of Assurance
6) Vow to Praise

So that’s enough. I’ll offer below my lament I wrote for this time.

This is my offering — but I offer it in hopes that you’ll see that you don’t have to be good at this to do it! I hope that you’ll try writing your own Lament and voice your complaint — but remind yourself that you really do believe that God will pull you through.

A Lament for Covid-19

Lord, are you there?
Have you seen the world going crazy?

Your people are falling ill,
young and old are suffering.
This virus is spreading the globe,
people in every country are affected.

We’re afraid to touch each other.
We’ve banned hugs and handshakes.
We stay at home and keep our distance.
Even people I pass on the outdoor path draw back.

Businesses are closing;
hairdressers are afraid.
Librarians are too scared to touch books,
and restaurants have become take-out only.

The economy is crashing.
Friends are getting laid off.
Small businesses are failing,
and classes are switching to online learning.

The scariest part is exponential growth.
Our country went from hundreds
to thousands of cases
in less than a week.

Can our hospitals tend
those who need it?
Will we run out of facemasks?
Will we have enough ventilators?

Lord, the future is unknown
and everything we thought was normal has changed.

I do trust you, Lord.
You’ve seen the world through every disaster.
This seems so big,
but you are always bigger.

Can you save mankind from the consequences of our mistakes?
You can.
Will you have mercy on us?
You will.

You see the individual.
You notice when a sparrow falls.
You see the hourly worker laid off,
And you have compassion for the owner who lost their business.

I wish you were not quite so good
at redeeming bad things,
for then you wouldn’t
let bad things happen.

As it is, we ask for redemption.
We ask for bursts of goodness and grace.
We ask for ingenuity for doctors and scientists,
finding treatment, finding cures,
developing an effective vaccine.

We ask for compassion
in the hearts of caregivers,
that those suffering may know
their pain is seen.

We ask for protection
for those serving on the frontlines,
that the virus will not enter their bodies,
that they will not succumb,
that they will fight on.

We ask for creativity
in the hearts and minds of artists,
that they will lift us above these times,
draw us out from fear.

We ask for community
even as we distance ourselves.
We ask for creative ways
to reach out and tell people we care.

We ask that we will never forget
how richly blessed we are
to have each other,
and what an amazing gift
is the presence of another human being.

Lord, have mercy on this world You’ve created!
Look with compassion on our suffering!
Give humanity the wisdom and resilience
To stop this virus and cut short the harm.

Lord, you’ve said when we walk through the fire,
you will be with us.
We will not be burned,
the flames will not set us ablaze.

When we walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death
You are with us.
You comfort us
with your rod and your staff, the signs of your presence.

We don’t know what’s coming,
but you do.
Jesus took on our infirmities
and carried our diseases,
and he never stopped
caring for the ills of the world.

Lord, we will sing for joy
when we meet back together again.
Our hugs will be
strong and invigorating.

We will laugh with joy
when we see friends and family
in person again,
when we feel our loved ones in the flesh.

Thank you for the precious gift of community,
and thank you that we’re learning
Love is stronger than any virus
And community transcends physical distance.

Amen, Lord.