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Discovering God's Kingdom – Growing the Church

Wednesday 9 September

Keeping on keeping on ...
during a Time of Coronavirus

This may not be true for you, but as we’ve been going through these past weeks and months of Coronavirus lockdown and now this rather scary, incredibly complicated time of restrictions gradually easing, I’ve often found myself struggling in different ways and with different things.  Some of my own inner questions, doubts and griefs seem to have risen to the surface.  And I’ve regularly wondered whether I’m truly being and doing, even somehow failing to do and be, all that I should “for such a time as this”. 

There’s been a big part of me that’s found it as much as I can do to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, ‘keeping on keeping on’ …
It’s been about trying to focus on the journey, simply taking it a day at a time - some days good, some days really hard.  Trying not to beat myself up too much about that.  Learning all over again about walking with Jesus, both in the sunshine and the shadows.  I’ve found myself comforted by remembering the old Footprints in the Sand poem – a gentle reminder that in the hardest times of our lives, far from leaving us on our own, Jesus is there to carry us.

My current job title describes me as somebody who’s supposed to be encouraging others in prayer and discipleship.  But how does one do that when in a bit of a 'desert place' or 'dark night' oneself?  I have to confess that as ‘lockdown’ went on, I found it increasingly hard to stay settled in my usual ways of praying or even sit in the usual much-loved place where I pray, not least because my lockdown/post-lockdown routine has felt so different from the old ‘normal’ and I have felt so unsettled. 

Perhaps now more than at any other time I can remember, it has felt as though we’ve been and continue to be almost drowning, overwhelmed with words and news - a bit like Jim Carrey’s Bruce in “Bruce Almighty” when he suddenly starts tuning in to the heart cries of the world.  It sometimes feels as though the need is so great and there’s so much to pray about, that we don’t know where to start. I think that’s why praying with others has helped me so much (see 'When .. where .. how?' section below).  Using other people’s prayers and meditations rather than my own words has also really helped because much of my personal prayer has actually become almost wordless, a kind of semi-constant, responsive ache in my heart and a churning in my guts.

I’ve certainly felt less able to ‘do’ in prayer, at least on my own – I can only ‘be’ and hope and trust that somehow the Holy Spirit is doing the work within me, as Paul writes in Romans 8:26-27: Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.   (NRSVA)
What has your experience of prayer been during this Coronavirus season?  Is it just me, or has anybody else been finding it hard to pray ‘as normal’?  If so, be reassured – I suspect that’s probably quite ‘normal’ in itself and I strongly believe that God calls us to ‘pray as we can, not as we can’t’!

(And not just to pray as we can of course, but to ‘do’ as we can, not as we can’t too.)

from Discipleship & Prayer from the Diocese of Truro