Prayer: We’ve built our houses on sand

Lord, teach us how to pray, and help us to pray now.

We pray that the COVID-19 pandemic would slow down and stop. We ask for effective treatments and vaccines to be developed. We pray for good judgement and compassion in leaders across the world. Please help the people in countries where infections are increasing rapidly, including Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, the US, Brazil and India, and places where the numbers are not being released. We especially pray for people who have lost their income during this crisis. Give us the generosity and the vision to face economic hardship together, not hoarding what we have but responding to everyone’s needs, understanding that soon enough the helper will need help themselves.

COVID helps us understand our vulnerability, and with large parts of the world on fire, reports saying wildlife is in catastrophic decline, and a creeping realisation that democracies may not be as stable, and elections may not be as trustworthy as we thought, maybe it feels like the rug has been pulled out from under us.

We’ve built our houses on sand.

We turn to you God, even though we might not know who you are. Please be the person we can trust. Please guide us in our response to climate change, to mass extinction, to bitter political division and corruption. We don’t opt out of our society: we will enter fully in to our society with a new understanding that we are all capable of great evil and great good, and our collective behaviour matters, and we need you to guide us.

As restrictions tighten here, and fears about Brexit re-emerge, we are tempted again to look inwards, and look after our own people. Give us the generosity and the vision to face economic hardship together, not hoarding what we have but responding to everyone’s needs, understanding that soon enough the helper will need help themselves.

We pray for people needing medical treatment now. We ask for safety, and the ability for treatment to continue. We pray for people in pain or fearing the consequences of delays. We pray for everyone involved in our health service: for rest, for health, for compassion.

We pray for people who are running away from trouble today: in a boat, in a camp, in a hostel. Give them mercy.

We know that we owe each other respect, and care for each others’ health. We pray that we will put aside selfish behaviour that puts other people at risk.

But beyond what we owe each other: what gift can we give each other?

We pray that you would show us to how stop pretending to be fine. That church wouldn’t be the “everything’s OK” club, with the occasional crisis that needs righting before we’re back to being fine. We pray that you would teach us to share the things that are not fine, and not fixed by next week. Give us the ability to be generous with our own selves, and risk a bit of reality with each other. We know that this is hard, and not something that we can turn on like a tap, but we pray for you to teach us, because we know that by turning to each other, we are also turning to you, and we want to know you.

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