Last week I thought I was finished with Leunig’s Prayer. Not finished in terms of living it out, of course, but finished in my line-by-line journey through it. Then the world suddenly became a whole lot scarier. The Corona virus (Covid-19) was declared a pandemic. The number of cases in South Africa began a steady and steep climb. Borders were closed. Flights were cancelled. Social distancing became the new catch-phrase. All my networks and groups were flooded with information and advice on the virus, and my most used emoji was the mask face because it was relevant to just about every discussion (Corona being almost the sole topic of conversation). It began to dawn on me then that Leunig’s prayer could be a blessing and an anchor when applied to this time of crisis. So, I’m revisiting it one last time as a springboard to my own prayer in these uncertain times. May we draw out a few more gems of understanding as we face these uncertain times together.
Lord, help us to Live Slowly
Lord, spending more time at home should slow me down, but I’m finding my mind circling over and over to this frightening situation. Please calm my anxious thoughts the way you calmed the storm. Speak your words, “be still” into my fears and the fears of those around me. Help me to use this extra time alone wisely, instead of filling it with mindless social media. As I slow down, help me to seek your face in prayer and to go deeper in your Word.
To Move Simply
Lord, let me be responsible in how I move—in where I go—choosing to do only the simple essentials. Let me not give in to fear and horde what I don’t need, but rather let me trust that, like the manna you provided every day, there is enough, and that what I cannot get, I can do without. Let me embrace this new time of simplifying my schedule. Make it a time of understanding and growth as I focus on what is important, and let go of the rest.
To Look Softly
Lord, never before have I been so aware of how connected we all are and how much we need each other. Let this time of ‘social distancing’ bring us closer together in our hearts. Let us not become so focused on our own needs, that we forget to look softly and gently on those around us. Give us special love and concern for the vulnerable and the very fearful. Fill us with your grace that we might show them grace in our words and actions. Look softly on us, Lord. Protect and help the most helpless among us.
To Allow Emptiness
Lord, even though we have not been touched by the depths of anguish, fear and grief unleashed on other parts of the world by this virus, let us embrace our common humanity, feel and mourn their emptiness and carry them in prayer. Lord, I do not want to pre-empt what is coming for I know you give us enough grace for every day. So, strengthen us today and strengthen us tomorrow and the day after that. Let people’s emptiness lead them to you, the great Comforter.
And to Let the Heart Create for Us
Lord, let this be a time of renewed creativity in our communities. Let us connect to, and follow through on, our dreams to create … music, stories, poetry and art. We have seldom needed beauty and hope as much as we do now, so let us create courageously, while celebrating and sharing the creativity of others. Let our creativity flow into other areas too: creative ways of connecting with others, of working, of exercising, of showing hospitality, of finding new solutions to the problems we face.
Please save our land, our continent and our world from the ravages of this pandemic, Lord.
Then the LORD answered the prayers on behalf of the land, and the plague upon Israel was halted. (2 Samuel 24:25)