Strategies to Get By
Over the past few weeks, I have keeping track of things that have helped me hold it together in these strange times. Last time I wrote about Scripture, and how that has been sustaining for me. I have found that I understand some scriptures better and more deeply than I had before. I find a lot of comfort in the fact that God has been faithful to His people through many challenging moments in history, and I know that God is present with us, and is faithful to us, now.
Another practice that has been helpful to me is one that I have practiced for years, but it has gained a new depth and urgency in the past several weeks: Prayer. Many years ago, when I was going through a difficult time, a friend sat with me and reminded me of two verses from I Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” In prayer, we have the privilege to speak to the Lord of heaven and earth, to be in the Lord’s presence, and to cast our anxieties upon him, knowing that he cares for us. In the past few weeks, I have found a lot of strength and comfort in prayer.
One of the things that I have been doing is to use a few books to help me pray. One book is the Psalms. I have found the richness of the language, the honesty of the Psalms, and the trust in the midst of difficult circumstances to be particularly hopeful. One way that I have been praying the Psalms recently is to read a single Psalm through, then to read it slowly and carefully, phrase by phrase, and meditating on it, using it as a way to launch a conversation with God. This practice has been helpful to me to focus my prayers, and to give me words as I struggle with what to say.
I have also been using an old book called A Diary of Daily Prayer by John Baillie as a way to guide my daily prayers. It is a 30-day prayer book that has two prayers each day, one for morning and one for evening. This book has also equipped me with words and a format for prayer each day that has been sustaining and strengthening.
I have been doing one more discipline, one that I have not been particularly good at in the past. I have been journaling. My prayer journal is not really a narrative, it is more like an annotated list. I have been listing people and situations that I will hold in prayer that day. I make my list in the morning, and I return to it at the end of the day. Sometimes an entry on my list is only a name, sometimes it is a particular concern, and sometimes it is a name with a joy or concern listed next to it. This, too has been a helpful way to focus my prayers. It has also been a way to be disciplined in my prayer life. I have also been going through our church directory, praying for people and families by name, writing these names in my journal, and holding you all in prayer.
I would love to hear from you. If you have a prayer request, or a thanksgiving, I would be glad to hold you specifically in prayer.
Finally, I would also appreciate your prayers for me. I never thought that I would have to figure out how to care for and lead a congregation that can’t meet together. It is tiring, sometimes hard, sometimes frustrating – but I am hopeful. I am hopeful because I know we will gather again soon, and I am also hopeful because I know that God is with us, and we can draw near to Him in prayer.