Prayer Thoughts - 2nd May 2020

As the country continues in lockdown, Julie Bradshaw came across this set of prayers gathered by the London Institute of contemporary Christianity. They asked people in various sectors of society to share their thoughts and feelings so that they could pray with them in a relevant and helpful way. They asked questions under three broad headings :-

What is there to be thankful for? Where do you see God at work?

Be honest about where the pressures are for you in your situation. Share your concerns and sadness with God.

What would you pray for today - what do you need, how can God help?

She signed up for what they call a 'prayer journey', receiving an email each day with a section to focus on. She thought it would be good to share these prayers with you all.

Prayer is vital at this time - and this resource helps us to pray not just for those on the front line but with them, listening to their voices, understanding their world a little and offering it all to God.

Day 1 : PRAY FOR NHS & Healthcare
‘I call out to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain.’
Psalm 3:4
Health services play a vital role in national wellbeing in all seasons, expressing God’s care and ministering his healing.
Give thanks...

Presence: Where do you sense God at work?
‘I sense God’s presence sustaining me each day, in my interactions with scared patients and families as I am able to extend a hand of comfort, and with my colleagues as we hold each other up.’
‘In volunteers who give so much of their time, in the kindness of staff, in patients who in crisis still put others first, in the dedication and humility of medics … Wherever I look if, I look hard enough, I can see God working through others, in situations, through actions, words, and just being.’

Pressures: What are the pressures affecting this context?
‘We fear for the safety of our families and some colleagues are forced to isolate from their loved ones …There is a real danger and concern of not having adequate PPE, so staff are extremely anxious for their own lives.’
‘It’s physically exhausting being in PPE for 12- to 13-hour shifts, and everything takes longer when wearing it. Emotionally, it’s very sad to watch someone die alone.’
‘There is constant change as services are restructured to meet the predicted need. I’m concerned too for the long-term effect of this stress on NHS workers.’
Ask for God's help...

Purpose: What would you pray for today?
‘Pray that I would show glimpses of God’s kingdom and his loving care to patients and their families as they face sickness, fear, and sometimes death: to be hope in the dark, showing compassion regardless of circumstance.’
‘Pray for a vaccine to be found as soon as possible, and to come into play before next winter’ to protect the health and welfare of the nation.'
‘Pray for supportive and caring leadership in each setting, and a well-coordinated response from NHS management’ to bring clear order and help workers to be as effective as possible.

Day 2 : PRAY FOR National & Local Government
‘I lift my eyes up to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.’ Psalm 121:1–2
 National and local government play a vital role in providing for the most vulnerable as they lead on policies and plans through this crisis.
Give thanks...

Presence: Where do you sense God at work?
‘God is at work in how staff have come together, often sacrificially, and given up their regular duties in order to get supplies and volunteers set up for local vulnerable residents.’
‘I sense God with me in the vital nature of the work, helping to pay workers’ wages while they’re being furloughed – keeping people fed and businesses economically viable.’
‘God is giving us all the resilience to make the impossible probable, then done.’

Pressures: What are the pressures affecting people?
‘In the local council many people are having to change their role quickly in response to the coronavirus emergency. This means changes to the ways they are used to working, including the need for more rapid decision-making.’
‘Our workload is increasing whilst resources decrease as civil servants contend with inadequate IT facilities, sickness, parenting responsibilities, and caring for sick relatives.’
‘Local councils are struggling to set up large volunteering schemes to help local residents at short notice, all whilst continuing to deliver essential services.’
Ask for God's help...

Purpose: What would you pray for today?
‘Local governments are key to the social and economic welfare of society. Pray that councillors would have wisdom in the key decisions they have to make, and that they would work effectively with central government to maximise potential and best serve the community.’
‘Pray that civil servants would provide for those less able to deal with Covid-19, both in the UK and in other countries.’
‘Pray that we’d have the strength to do what is needed and the wisdom and insight to make sure the priorities are balanced. Pray that we’d support those who need us the most both individually and as a society.’

Day 3 : PRAY FOR Finance
‘The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry.’ Psalm 34:15
In this time of turmoil, the finance industry has a central role to play in alleviating economic distress, creating conditions and practical resources to cultivate flourishing across the nation.
Give thanks...

Presence: Where do you sense God at work in this context?
‘Where we’re now working from home, work relationships have humanised a bit, as you see into people’s homes, and their families.’
‘As finances are hit hard, there is an opportunity to learn to trust in God and show where we have instead put our faith in our finances.’
'I've sensed God giving me 'wisdom in making compassionate but financially sound decisions that will have a big impact on the lives of consumers.’

Pressures: What are the pressures affecting this context?
‘The majority of the industry has had to adapt to working from home, which has been a difficult transition for many. Staff isolation has led to weaker collaboration, lower motivation, and some anxiety.’
 ‘With the world economy basically going on pause, a lot of work has ground to a halt.’ There’s been a ‘decline in the value of investments, putting many people’s financial plans under pressure.’
 ‘The amount of uncertainty is hard. What will inflation, interest rates, and taxation look like after this?’
Ask for God's help...

Purpose: What would you pray for today?
‘Pray for the areas that will be crucial to the nation’s economic recovery after the crisis is over, and for those with a ton of work to manage adjustments at the moment.’
'Pray for creative initiatives to protect the economic welfare of all people and minimise the impact of any recession. Pray that biblical financial concepts, such as generosity, can be realised at this time.’
'Pray we’d see ourselves as ‘stewards of what we possess', and be wise in our management’.

Day 4 : PRAY FOR Education
‘Hear my prayer, LORD; let my cry for help come to you ... Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.’ Psalm 102:1–2
Teaching staff, leaders, administrators, and support teams seek to create a context that releases the potential of all their students.
Give thanks...

Presence: Where do you sense God at work in this context?
‘Within the university where I work, I see many people helping one another to continue to support our students via new online teaching platforms. There is a new spirit of cooperation, support, and unity instead of a competitive race to impress and outdo each other.’
‘I see God in the social, emotional, physical, and practical work being done by schools to support pupils. Nearly half of our pupils received free school meals. Over the past three weeks, staff have delivered food to their homes.’
'Teachers are selflessly still going to work to care for others, putting themselves at more risk'

Pressures: What are the pressures affecting this context?
‘The pressure is for those children and young people who are considered vulnerable – those with special educational needs,  eligible for free school meals, on child protection registers. The many children who experience difficult or less than loving homes: schools are their safe spaces.’
‘New online ways of teaching are very demanding, and many teachers are feeling isolated and stressed, complaining of very bad headaches and sleeplessness.’
‘Where we’re predicting student GCSE and A level grades, we feel pressured to make sure that we do it accurately, and it will be hard dealing with the fallout from students and parents'
Ask for God's help...

Purpose: What would you pray for today?
'Pray that God’s love and care may be expressed through teachers continuing to look after tired children who have been to school every day since closures due to the vital roles of their parents.’
‘Pray that teaching staff would have wisdom in prioritising pastoral care and educational input with students, and seeking to be a non-anxious presence.’
‘With school closures for the majority of children, pray that we would use the opportunity to reinvent not just the way we deliver education, but the wider priorities about what and how children learn.’

Day 5 : PRAY FOR the Hospitality Industry
‘I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me.’ Psalm 120:1
At its best, the hospitality industry reflects God’s delight in nurturing friendships and bringing joy. It is among the hardest hit at this time.
Give thanks...

Presence: Where do you sense God at work in this context?
‘I feel God’s presence in his provision for my needs, and in the new opportunities of this new season to do much-needed things.’
‘Some hotels are serving their local communities and those most in need by providing meals and, in a few cases, accommodation for the homeless or for NHS staff who are isolating.’
‘Restaurants that have been forced to close can offer free meals to those in need or adapt their business model to continue operating in other ways to serve the community.’

Pressures: What are the pressures affecting this context?
‘Many hotels currently hosting those who are isolating or in need face the threat of closure if "gatherings" are restricted from June.’
‘Many staff are already on furlough, on minimum wage, and in poor living conditions. Many are immigrants and so face further worry being away from their families.’
'Long-term problems from lost revenue mean that the possibility of a high level of unemployment looms over this sector. People are stressing that they will have no job to return to.’
‘There is even pressure to ensure the survival of the industry.’
Ask for God's help...

Purpose: What would you pray for today?
‘The heartbeat of many staff is to serve. So, pray that they are able to serve right now and be called upon by volunteer agencies as their usual places of work are closed.’
Pray for creativity as the industry is forced to innovate and rethink how it can operate to continue to bring joy to people in this season.
‘The reason we’re in the hospitality sector is that we care about others. So, our purpose is to help in a world that needs care! But we need prayer to be courageous, to re-tool, and to be creative in how we show hope and strength to others.’

(Prayers adapted from those gathered by the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity a small section of their prayer journey: 'Presence, Pressures, Purpose')

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