Just like Jesus, bursting out of the tomb, we come to these days of spring with a fresh hope of bursting out of the restrictions of this ongoing pandemic. I write this in February, where April looks like it could bring new freedoms, freshness and new life for us all. However, one thing I’ve learned during this past year, is that things shift and change quickly, and often not as I anticipate.
Be that as it may, we have walked through quite a challenging journey already, a journey, which has molded and shaped us perhaps more than we realize. As we enter this season of new life, it might be worthwhile to look at how our prayer life has been impacted, and more importantly, whether our prayer during this time has impacted us.
Has your relationship with God changed? Do you find you pray more, or less, or differently, now than you did before the pandemic? Some people have noticed that what they pray about has changed. Somehow, being isolated from others has caused many to spend more prayer time looking outward, praying for their community, family, friends and the world in a new way. And with increased limitations and restrictions, some have noticed their prayer is filled more with thanksgiving, expressing gratitude for the things they do have.
Many have returned to more formal prayers, finding the structure familiar and comforting, as it gives routine and order in a time of unstructured disorder. Even people with no previous affiliation to a church are embracing spiritual practices as one way to cope with the anxiety and uncertainty the pandemic has provoked.
Or for some, where their time of prayer was previously limited to Sunday mornings, they have noticed a more keen awareness of God’s closeness, every day. While it is certainly true that many of us miss gathering as a community, and especially miss receiving the Eucharistic sacrament, many have experienced a deeper connection with God in day-to-day activities.
C.S. Lewis says: “Prayer doesn’t change God, it changes me.” Prayer causes us to rely on God, for God does not change. God is the still point in this turbulent world, and turning to God anchors us like nothing else can. Prayer helps us to trust that God is good and holds us in all things. As we pray, we deepen our sense of God’s presence in our lives. We can allow God’s stillness to settle the unease within us.
As we move into this season of new life and resurrection, we can see the possibility of this pandemic winding down and us emerging again to some semblance of normal. As we prepare for that, let’s spend some time deliberately thinking about who we want to be in this new place. Has our relationship with God changed? What do we want to take with us from this experience, to integrate into our new ‘normal’, and what do we choose to leave behind? What have we learned about ourselves, our neighbour and our world, and what do we want to do with that knowledge? How has your prayer during this time changed you?