When I was little, and very sick with the flu, the slow passage of time seemed like an eternity. The suffering was real. I couldn't imagine being well, and I couldn't see how I could go on for many more days.
As my mom cared for me, I would ask her, "Mom, how long will I be sick? When will I be well?"
She would gently answer: "This sickness has to run its course."
It has to run its course. That was not the answer I wanted to hear.
But eventually, the illness did indeed run its course, and I became well.
Now our current situation with the Coronavirus is distinct. Not everyone will get well. Nations are impacted in a variety of ways. Families are anxious.
All the more reason why we need to immerse ourselves in prayer.
What, Exactly, Can We Pray For At A Time Like This?
When we are confronted with a serious need or problem, we usually pray in one way. In short, we usually ask God to completely, suddenly, and drastically end the problem; crush the crisis; remove the burden; make anything bad vanish. Poof.
And there is nothing wrong with praying this way. God is all-powerful. He can do anything. And He sometimes chooses to completely resolve a problem for us, all in a single moment.
But He doesn't always do this. He is the great Artisan, working with skilled hands. There are many, many complexities to problems—and they are usually bound up with the free will of human beings, which He will not force. He respects the free will He has given us. Yet He still delicately brings about the most amazing things.
So let's add something to our prayers. After you pray "God, please end the Coronavirus right now"—deepen the prayer. Add specifics.
May I offer three suggestions:
1. Ask God to bring powerful good out of the bad.
Our Holy God has the astonishing ability to bring good out of a terrible situation. We can't usually see it until later—hindsight is twenty-twenty—but when we see what He has done, we marvel.
Profound graces are available through suffering—through all the crosses we willingly carry—but not if we're kicking and screaming. We have to be disposed to receive them. And I—like many others—have certainly wasted graces and lost opportunities by not being open to Our Lord's action.
So let's humbly ask Him to bring abundant graces out of this for everyone. Ask Him to bring miracles of beauty out of this. Ask Him to rescue us and to bring new spiritual fruits into our lives.
I don't know about you, but I don't want any of my sufferings to go to waste!
2. Pray for those who are the most afraid because they have no one to turn to.
We Christians often take our faith for granted. We take God for granted.
When we have a problem, we have Someone to turn to. We can find strength, hope, and consolation in prayer. We know that there is Someone FAR more powerful than us, who can help us.
My guess is that those who have no God in their lives are the most afraid right now. Without God, suffering has no purpose. Life has no purpose. Nothing, ultimately, has purpose. Unpredictable crises like this are chaotic happenstance.
In short: PRAY FOR CONVERSION OF HEARTS.
Not just for those who don't know Our Lord. WE NEED CONVERSION, TOO. We are no better than others.
Pray that those who don't know God will find and experience Him at this time. Pray that we Christians, who often treat God as #5 in our lives and not #1, will undergo deeper conversion of heart, and receive profound graces.
Pray that anyone who is gripped with fear, anxiety, and panic will receive peace, hope, courage, and even joy. Pray that those who are in great need will receive the help they need.
People have spiritual needs and physical needs. Pray for both!
3. Pray for true repentance and for God to be placed at the center of life.
"A broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise!" David cried out to the Lord (Psalm 51:17).
Times of upheaval and anxiety can provide the opportunity for us to examine our hearts. This is a choice we can make. We can't control anything, really, except our own attitudes and actions in response to something.
Don't despair—and remember that God is profoundly merciful to us.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor requite us according to our iniquities.
He does, however, permit certain things to happen, providing us with the chance to repent of sins we may not have even considered as being sins. We may think we're pretty good people who don't need to repent.
But we all do.
Pray in reparation for your sins and for the sins of the whole world. Pray that we might all receive the grace of deep and beautiful repentance.
And pray that God may once more become the center of our lives and communities.
As it is, God has been completely jettisoned. The world no longer honors the Sabbath day. We Catholics usually sideline Him, and treat Him as a nice periphery aspect of life. We don't always speak of Him with reverence. We don't raise our children to even understand what reverence is.
Pray that our Almighty God will be placed at the center of our lives, so that—when we are in need—He CAN help us, because we are not resisting and blocking Him!
He Said to Not Be Afraid
“Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed; I am your God. I will strengthen you, and help you, and uphold you with my right hand of justice.”
The Sacred Scriptures are bursting with the words "Be not afraid." Jesus wants us to turn to Him with our fear, and surrender it to Him.
We have real concerns. Real anxieties. Very real. Let's kneel down at His feet and place these things in His lap.
“Anxiety is the greatest evil that can befall a soul except sin. God commands you to pray, but He forbids you to worry.”
—St. Francis de Sales
Please note that St. Francis is not saying that we sin when we feel anxiety. Anxiety and are worry are natural feelings, and to feel is not a sin. It's when we choose to stay anxious—rather than attempt to redirect it and to pray—that we harm ourselves.
What we need is hope, and faith, and perseverance in prayer.
Pray for me, and I will pray for you. Prayer is the greatest gift.
How are you praying during this time of pandemic? What has gotten you through challenges in the past?
What would you add to this list of things to pray for?
Share with us in the comments below.