Change is always hard. When the change involves trying to return to living a “new normal” life after spending months at home, it can feel overwhelming. Sometimes the anxiety causes us to resist change or stirs up turmoil in our hearts, draining the joy and peace from our lives. As believers, we are called to walk in faith and not be anxious about anything. Philippians 4:8-9 says our thoughts should be on “whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise.” How can we focus on these good things, though, when our hearts are anxious?
Anxiety is rooted in fear. When we are battling fear, our first response should be to turn to God in prayer. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
But what, exactly, can we pray? Below are five prayers to comfort, encourage and empower you as our society moves toward a full re-opening from the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if you don’t have anxiety over the reopening, the prayers below can help you pray for those who do.
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1. Prayer for a Clear Mind and Peaceful Heart
If we begin each day with prayer, we set our hearts and minds in alignment with God’s will and His truth. We will be encouraged by remembering God’s faithfulness, goodness and sovereignty. Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us to put on the full armor of God. By spending time with God first thing in the morning, we stand ready and “armored up” to face our day. Here’s a prayer to begin your day:
Lord, I praise you, for you are an everlasting God, the maker of heaven and earth. I marvel at the works of your Hand and your faithfulness to those who love you. Thank you for the peace you promise to give to all who call upon Your name. Lord, clear my mind of things I have read or heard that are contrary to your nature and bring fear to my heart. As I go throughout my day, help me to turn my worries into prayers. Through your spirit, enable me to see the blessings in my life and remember all the ways you have protected me in the past. When anxious thoughts fill my mind, give me the strength to take each thought captive before it grows into a lie from the enemy. I know You are my refuge. Help me to carry your peace in my heart as I go throughout my day. Shine your light through me and help me to be an example of your love wherever I go.
In your Holy name, Amen.
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2. Prayer for Health
The pandemic has brought legitimate concern for our health and the health of others. Most of us have known someone who has fallen ill or even died from COVID. We’ve had to take precautions to keep ourselves and our families healthy. Many of these precautions were above and beyond what most people normally practice. Our news has been full of medical research and reports about immunity and virus transmission.
The concern for COVID spreading and infecting us or others will not disappear overnight because the virus is still out there and continues to mutate. As such, many of us are worried about our health and the welfare of our loved ones. For some, the fear of getting sick has become a giant they must conquer, yet they don’t feel like they have the faith of David when he encountered Goliath. While we have no guarantees against sickness, we can turn to God and ask Him for his protection over our health.
Lord, you have given me the breath in my lungs, just as you have made the moon and stars. Help me to walk free from fear of sickness. Place a hedge of protection over my body, as well as my mind and my heart. God, you are so much bigger than any virus or illness. Surround my family and household with your love, keeping us healthy and strong. This pandemic has made me acutely aware of life and death, sickness and health. Help me to turn that awareness into praise to You for your sovereignty in all things, instead of letting fear take ahold of me. Give me the wisdom to live each day of health with joy and purpose, and if I do get sick, give me the faith to put my hope in You. You are my healer, redeemer, and protector, Lord. I know I can trust you with life, my health, and my family. Help me to remember this as I go about my day, and free me of the burden of worrying about the things I don’t have control over.
In Jesus name, Amen.
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3. Prayer for Living Peaceably with Others
As we go about our day post-lockdown, we are bound to come across people with different viewpoints than us about the issues related to COVID. Whether it be attitudes toward facemasks, social distancing, workplace procedures or vaccines, we need to be able to live in peace with those around us. We can pray for peace when we feel agitated, afraid, or misunderstood.
Lord, the world feels so divided right now. My heart hurts for the lives lost as well as for those who have been financially and mentally effected by the lockdowns. Help me to see both sides of the pandemic the way You see it, Lord. You love each one of us so much and command us to love each other, but it can be difficult to remember this commandment when we disagree about something that could be a matter of life or death. Help me to interact in a loving and peaceful way with those who disagree with my beliefs. When I’m anxious or worried about other’s behavior, give me the wisdom to know when to speak up and when to stay silent. Remind me that you are my protector in all situations, and that you have not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and discipline. Give me an eternal vision when it comes to this and every other matter, Lord. Help me to be an example of your love and goodwill even when I don’t feel like I can. Give me a heart to love others like You do, Jesus.
In your precious name, Amen.
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4. A Prayer for Uncertainty
Even as things reopen, we are uncertain what the future holds. How will the economy rebound? Will there be variants of the virus that we aren’t ready for? Are facemasks a permanent part of culture? So many things remain unknown. But God knows. We can turn to Him in prayer when we are feeling daunted by the unknown.
God, I don’t know what the future holds. But I know I can hold on to the One who holds all things—You. Help me to remember when I feel uncertain that you created the world and the heavens and you created me. You are involved in every detail, even when I can’t see or understand it. Lord, I don’t want to live in fear of the unexpected or uncertain. I know I can’t truly live for you if I am worried about what lies ahead. Help me to rest in the assurance that you hold me in the palm of your hand. You know what tomorrow will bring. Enable me to be reassured that Your knowing is far greater than my knowing. Even when it looks like the future will be different than I hoped for, remind me that you have good plans for me, Lord. Help me to truly know and stand on the truth that you work all things to good for those who love you and are called according to your purposes. Whisper to me when my mind wanders to all the what-ifs of what could be. Remind me of your presence in small ways when I am faced with uncertainty. Whether it be a bird landing on my windowsill or my favorite worship song coming on the radio while I’m driving, help me to see that You are there with me when life is uncertain.
In your Holy Name, Amen.
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5. Prayer for Overcoming Old and New Social Anxiety
Many people think that the shutdowns were hardest on extroverts. While it certainly was a challenge for the outgoing, people-loving types, it was also difficult on introverts, though in different ways. Now that society is reopening, even people who may not have considered themselves introverted before the lockdowns may find themselves feeling mentally unready to be around crowds.
Another aspect of new social anxiety can be the awkwardness and limitations imposed by face masks and social distancing protocols. We may struggle to hear others through masks, and be wary of how to approach others with social distancing guidelines.
Whatever may be causing our anxiety around others, we can pray for God to help us overcome anxiousness about socializing again.
Lord, you didn’t create us to live alone on this earth. Yet, when I go out in public now, I can feel overwhelmed by the people around me and my interactions with them. I know this is not the way you want me to feel, God, but this change is hard. Help me to breathe and be calm when surrounded by others. Wash me with your peace as I walk through crowds or talk with a grocery clerk or coworker. When I feel frustrated with myself over the anxiety that I can’t seem to overcome, remind me of your love for me. Speak to me through the noise of crowds and my own whirling thoughts and calm my racing heart. When I feel constrained by protocols and unfamiliar ways of interacting with others, give me patience with my circumstances. Remind me of your promises, and fill my heart with not only calm, but joy. Thank you for Word, which assures me you are with me wherever I may go and so I need not fear anything.
In your precious name, Amen.
When we turn to God for prayer, our anxieties and worries may be not immediately go away, but we can rest assured that He has heard our prayers and walks with us. While we will never be certain of what the future holds, we can be confident and find peace in the knowledge that God will be with us, every step of the way.
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Melanie Campbell is a member of Oregon Christian Writers and ACFW. Her debut novel, One Woman Falling, won the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Award and is a finalist for the Selah Award. She lives in Oregon’s beautiful Willamette Valley with her husband, their three children, and several spoiled pets. You can learn more about her writing and sign up for her newsletter by visiting her website at melaniecampbellauthor.org. You can also follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.