How Do We Pray from Here?


Nearly 160,000 people have died in America due to COVID-19.  So many names.  Too many to name or write down on my prayer list.  It won’t work.  I can’t bow my head for that long.  And I don’t have enough words to address it all.  No Christian comebacks here.  But, if you have them, please send help. 

What chapter and verse of the Bible, what Sunday school lesson, what mid- week Bible study, what sermon series, what mission opportunity could have prepared me for a pandemic?  I went to church every week and still, I don’t have enough faith to believe that this will work out for our good (Romans 8:28).  Pray for me, because I have lots of questions and question anyone who says that they have an answer, who aims to explain what we are experiencing, who can somehow see the bigger picture.  Exactly where are you positioned that you can see the bright side, the upside in all of this?  We are in “the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4).  People are still dying.

So, what version of the Bible will encourage persons to stay home and stay away from large gatherings?  Which red letters of Jesus will prove that this virus is real, that people are really dying, that wearing a mask will save lives?  Is it more convincing if you read from the King James Version of the Bible?  “Please weareth a mask.”  Health experts keep saying it and still, we seem to be stuck in a death spiral. 

Masked, we cover our mouths so as not to spread the infection.  Half faces, it’s all in our eyes. And mine are tired.  Tired of seeing hospital beds, freezer trucks, family pictures of the dead.  Tired of not seeing smiles; straight, crooked and missing teeth; overbites and braces; pimpled faces.  Tired of covering up my face and pulling the covers up over my head, of not wanting to get out of bed.

Believe me.  I want to be faithful, to stick to a routine of morning and evening prayers.  I want my life to return to normal.  But the pandemic has taken away any semblance of that. I daydream about days of the week because it all runs together now.  My roles blend together, and I am not certain of how to separate myself from this moment, to pray to God up there or out there or everywhere when Death is present.

I want to be found faithful, body postured as one attentive to the Divine.  I want to live with the faith that found me as a child, though no longer as hopeful or as happy with the Church.  I have my list of complaints.  Still, I want to do the things that faithful people do.  

But we cannot go to church anymore.  Two or three cannot gather in Jesus’ name unless they are members of the same household (Matthew 18:20).  Out of arm’s reach, some question if Jesus can be present.  Members of his body, we are not as close as we once were, but this was true well before the pandemic.

The appearance of discipleship has changed and so have the hours.  We believe from home.  So, how do we pray from here?

Reverend Starlette Thomas* is the Minister to Empower Congregations at the D.C. Baptist Convention. She writes on the social construct of race and the practice of faith at Her hobbies include reading, writing, and praying with her feet.

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