Quarantine prayers and meditation

Tips for finding God in social isolation

“And a great and mighty wind tore into the mountains and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a still, small voice.” 1 Kings 19:11-12 (Berean Study Bible)

In our current state of social isolation, many churches and religious services have temporarily suspended their operations. The situation is extreme enough that there is serious debate over whether Easter will be celebrated this year. Most of us spend our days at home, living life and killing time however we can until the pandemic passes.

It is easy, in this situation, to let our religious-spiritual thoughts and habits slump. Frequent meetings with authority figures or other members of our faith helps us to keep to our commitments—what we’ve given up for Lent, prayers and intentions we want to keep in our thoughts, resolutions for spiritual improvement and the like—and in the absence of those, they can lapse. Feeling a lack of drive is natural when we’re all cooped up in our houses (so many lazy days are spent in the same place, even without a virus running around), and this can affect our spiritual life as well.

In ordinary life a frankly massive amount of distractions and sentiments can be found to distract us from this fact, and many public displays of religion are designed in such a way as to exclude or de-emphasize the outside world. It becomes easy to think of religion and the like as something utterly separate from daily life, but this is far from the case. It is an element of many religions, not just Christianity, that God and the divine are in some way beneath the world as we know it; that the way things appear and feel all have God as their source and foundation, should we choose to get in touch with it. This time of practical quarantine seems to me a great chance to try it out.

Simply reminding ourselves of this is easy enough to do; a regiment of daily prayer, of time alone with God, venting our frustrations, worries, hopes, and more to Him. A being like God is likely the patient sort; even if we’re not used to doing this, the room for improvement is comfortable. There’s no rigid, this-way-or-the-highway manner of praying—you can start with prewritten and systematic prayers, or go free-form from the get-go. Whatever helps you to feel that connection and presence of God.

You can also go beyond these more routine and regimented reminders, and try meditation. Emptying the mind of worldly thoughts—many of the aforementioned worries, frustrations, and the like—and focusing purely on God, listening to Him without spending (much) time talking yourself, can be both refreshing and calming; refreshing, because it allows you to take your mind off the hassles of life and let all the cares fade away; calming, because it gives you a chance to recognize the presence of God in (and perhaps despite) all things, and recognize again the mere fact of God being God makes all the troubles of life irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. 

For those who are especially skilled at emptying their heads in full, it can be an excellent opportunity to not only feel the presence of God all around them, but to bask in it and enjoy it. Whatever amount of time you spend doing this is fine; it often goes faster than you would think, when you get really into it, and you come out of it feeling unburdened and much better. There is nothing wrong with being inexperienced with this and yet wanting to try it anyway; there are plenty of guided meditations on YouTube and similar online services, and either source can provide fitting and relaxing music.

Of course, these are not the only ways in which to stay connected to God; there are likely countless (and perhaps, sometimes, very individual) methods that one can use. The important thing is to remind ourselves that even in this situation, wherever we are, no matter how worldly or non-religious it seems, God is still with us. This is a comfort, yes, and perhaps a very effective one in a time where panic and fear seem constantly on the verge of boiling over, but it is also more than that.

Remembering God’s presence is an important way to remember that our obligations to Him, the behaviors we have decided to take up for His sake, still hold. His presence can and should be comforting to those who need it, but just as we might need to be reminded that He is still there, even in the middle of all this craziness, we should also take the time to remember that everything that comes with belief and knowledge of Him follows. In remembering this, it can become easier to dedicate (or rededicate) oneself to such things as their Lenten obligations or other spiritual activities. It can provide the same motivation that regular services would, but with a perhaps more personal edge.

Just as God is in the small things in life, the everyday and mundane that we currently find ourselves trapped in, so too is the relationship we have with Him, with all its obligations, confidences and allowances. Neither has changed, even in these circumstances. But sometimes, understandably, we need a reminder, and carving out a time and way to remind ourselves of that is important, however it may be done.

Author: Luke Fredette

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