By Marianne Wood

Like many, I’ve read lots of books and essays on prayer. Writers have definitely taken on this task for good reasons. And they have been helpful. Right now I’m enjoying Paul Miller’s A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World. I’m learning that “prayer is meant to be the conversation where your life and your God meet.” Miller says, too, in his introduction that Jesus teaches us “how to stop talking to ourselves.” Later on he states this second idea a bit more strongly: “Praying exposes how self-preoccupied we are and uncovers our doubts.”


Marianne Wood

Oh how true this is during this COVID-19 epidemic!

My own doubts about the future of my family, my friends, my neighborhood, city and nation – even the world – are compounded daily. So I have resolved to improve some good habits, mostly the ones involving prayer. Praying. Conversing with God.

First, I limit my news intake to reading our wonderful daily newspaper, listening to a podcast for a news update at noon, and then taking in a bit of televised news in the evening. Thank you, Greg Jaklewicz and your AR-N team for keeping us up to date and smiling with your clever slice of life stories. While we might see news as a way to protect our families and get some entertainment, I also try to use the paper as a prayer guide for our city and the nation. New sick people: pray for them. Soldiers departing: pray. A friend of a friend died: pray. 

Second, I’m redeveloping a way of praying that has worked for a very long time. I have assigned friends, family and others to routine activities. So, for example, when I vacuum I naturally pray for a family in the carpet business. When I blow dry my hair, I pray for a friend who taught me to turn my head upside down to get my hair fuller. A special face cream reminds me of another. Even tweezing my brows prompts me to pray for one dear friend who hates plucking hers! I’m trying to add things like thanking God each time it rains but also asking blessings on the ones who keep our water supplies safe for us. This method is easy and convenient. I call it “Pray as You Go.” 

My “Pray as You Go” model extends to my refrigerator. As my morning coffee drips, I look to the faces on my refrigerator to pray for missionaries abroad, my children and their families, and others dear but far away. Remembering them, I remember Him, who intercedes for us continually – Romans 8:34.

Finally, God loves surprising us. Many of us have found that through the use of a variety of technologies we can have dinner with friends, teach classes, and work from home through file sharing apps. And while we know that this time in history is sometimes scary, often hard, and disappointing in many ways, God has us and He has this epidemic. Because He does, we can abandon our self-preoccupation: whether by trying to take control of things or by withdrawing into a turtle-like shell. Instead, we can surrender our concerns to His tender care while celebrating whatever goodness He brings through reading His words, praying for others, and serving as we are given strength and clarity.

Marianne Wood works as an editorial assistant and researcher for Bill Wright and teaches art education at Hardin-Simmons University

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