Earlier this week, I was preparing a very brief meditation for a kind of public service announcement on prayer in the time of pandemic.
As I was preparing, something dawned on me that I wanted to share with you.
There are two instances and there may be others to be sure, in both the Hebrew scriptures and in the New Testament where you see prayer linked directly with action.
One example is found in I Kings where the prophet Elijah is fleeing for his life. He says in chapter 19 that he ends up at a cave near Mount Horeb, which is Mount Sinai in other places. He's in prayer, fasting and struggling for 40 days. After that time of prayer, when he kind of senses what God wants him to do, Elijah then goes out and leads a reformation in Israel that was really significant.
Elijah’s prayer led him to action.
You see the same kind of pattern in Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. He's praying about what he should do. That leads him to make the decision to give his life, to show what love looks like for the cause and way of love. But it's that prayer that leads to action.
It occurred to me that in this time of pandemic, it may be helpful to remember that our prayer can lead to actions.
We can't do all the things that we used to do, but we can do some things. We can pray. Pray for all of the conditions and all of the situations that we are aware of in our world, and that we are aware of because of this pandemic. We can also take some action. There are ways we can support causes that help people in this time. There are ways that we can support ministries that are helpful.
We can keep social distance. That's a way of action. It's an act of prayer.
We can pay attention to public health officials and their guidance, that's an action. We can wear, of course, face masks. I was trying to think of what is a prayer that combines prayer and action in the Book of Common Prayer? I found it. There are many, but this one stands out.
It's the prayer of St. Francis:
Lord make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
Pray and do what you can.
God love you. God bless you and keep the faith.
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry is Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church. He is the Chief Pastor and serves as President and Chief Executive Officer, and as Chair of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church.
Facebook | @PBMBCurry
Twitter | @BishopCurry
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