Looking back, we never meant to give up so much for Lent.
Quarantines have swapped out many of the “cans” in our cupboards. The pandemic has instead stocked our pantries up with “cannots.” We cannot visit. We cannot go and gather. We cannot shop. We cannot go to school or church.
Thankfully our God has no travel restrictions. Our Father does not participate in social distancing. Our Savior knows no threat of contagion or infection. Our Lord emptied Himself to be with us. If He is now emptying us, He does so only to bring us to Himself.
So since we cannot do, let us fall on Him and rest in Him. Let us ask. Let us beg and plead. Let us hope. We covet your prayers. He covets them even more.
For our congregations, pastors, and brother and sister parishioners: Lord Jesus, You died that God would never leave us alone. You rose to embrace us through forgiveness in Your household and kingdom. Your love sustains us still. Let this season of exile from Your sacraments and the services of Your house foster in us a hunger for Your Word. Keep the disconnect from leading any of Your people to despair. Gladden hearts with daily bread even in financial distress and strengthen the bonds of family during the strains. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
For our acquaintances, relatives, and friends suffering illness: Lord Jesus, You died to carry our sickness and bear our sorrows away. You rose to give us everlasting life in the resurrection of the body. Your presence sustains us still. Grant quick relief and complete healing to those who must endure affliction. Make them whole, not just in body but in soul, with Your promises to deliver from every evil. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
For caregivers, medical professionals, safety personnel, service-industries workers, parents with children at home, and especially single and working mothers and fathers: Lord Jesus, You died to suffer alongside us and in our stead. You rose to serve us always and everywhere with heaven’s treasures. Your might sustains us still. Invigorate those whose vocations convey Your care in public and private ways. Furnish them with resources, supplies, and space to minister effectively out of Your own abundance. Shield them from exhaustion and endangerment and multiply patience to them. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
For vulnerable neighbors, especially unborn children and elderly persons: Lord Jesus, You died to declare and demonstrate the sanctity of every human life from fertilization to forever. You rose to proclaim the worth and purpose of all humankind and put it into practice. Your grace sustains us still. Bid us receive both the youngest and the oldest among us as blessings rather than only as burdens. Inspire our society to resist the temptation to use death as a solution to difficulties or to use suffering as an excuse to discard lives. Bring an end to abortion, euthanasia, suicide, and embryo experiments. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
For our elected authorities, public officials, researchers, and journalists: Lord Jesus, You died to reveal the mind of our God and open to us the Father’s heart. You rose to scatter all darkness with the light of Your fullness in immortality. Your truth sustains us still. Work wisdom in those whom You have entrusted with responsibility and information. Drive all panic and exaggeration from them. Endow them with understanding of sound science, clear reason, and open communication that they may maintain order and justice for the common good. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.
For our postponed and upcoming activities: Lord Jesus, You died to set Your holy salvation at work in, through, and for us. You rose to invite us into Your reign over the new heavens and earth. Your will sustains us still. In this time of restraint, let us not lose any enthusiasm for the labors which You have given us. Expand our opportunities as Gospel-motivated voices For Life. And when once again we enjoy freedom of movement, amplify our witness to how You have created, redeemed, and called every human being as a precious gift. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen!