Prayers and Hope for the COVID-19 Pandemic

Woman praying with her hands clasped and eyes closed at sunset

All prayers and meditations have been written and/or adapted by Baptist Health Chaplains.

The past year and a half have challenged us in more ways than we could have ever imagined. Collectively, much more than our physical health has been at stake as we’ve navigated the largest public health crisis in recent history.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our mental and spiritual health after periods of lockdown, job loss, isolation, and detachment from corporate worship, and has left many feeling depleted, hopeless and burned out.

The Pastoral Care Team Chaplains at Baptist Health recognize what a strain the past 18 months have been, and have compiled original and adapted prayers, meditations and devotions to inspire hope and encourage spirits.


A Prayer for Difficult Times

God,

We ask that all who are affected by this virus be held in your loving care.

In this time of uncertainty,
help us to know what is ours to do.

We know you did not cause this suffering
but that you are with us in it and through it.

Help us to recognize your presence in acts of kindness,
in moments of silence,
and in the beauty of the created world.

Grant peace and protection
to all of humanity for their well-being
and for the benefit of the earth.

-Richard Rohr


Shelter Me, O God

Shelter me, O God; hide me in the shadow of your wings.
You alone are my hope.

When my foes surround me, set me high above their reach.
Hear me when I call your name.

Shelter me, O God; hide me in the shadow of your wings.
You alone are my hope.

As a mother gathers her young beneath her care,
Gather me into your arms.

Shelter me, O God; hide me in the shadow of your wings.
You alone are my hope.

Though I walk in darkness, through the needle’s eye of death,
You will never leave my side.

Shelter me, O God; hide me in the shadow of your wings.
You alone are my hope.

-Bob Hurd


Daily Mantra for the Care Team

(Shared by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center – “Prayers for Those Affected by COVID 19”)

In all that we do today,
through every encounter with patients,
with family members,
with hospital staff,
with each other,
and with ourselves,
may we be guided by wisdom and compassion.


Medical Community’s Prayer

Source of all life,
We are those who dedicate our lives to health and healing, preventing disease, reducing pain, prolonging life, providing hope.

Source of life,
Watch over us and all who work in the healing professions as we serve during times of our deepest needs,
as we struggle with decisions none should have to make.

Bless our hands with kindness and compassion, our eyes with clarity,
our hearts with courage,
and our souls with love and forgiveness.

Help us to carry on in the midst of difficult choices.

Bless us with fortitude and strength.

Source of life,
We pray that there will come a time
when we can embrace an end to pain and suffering and we will find rest in You.

Source of all life,
Bless our team members with Your peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding.

-Adapted from a prayer by Alden Solovy


Physician and Nurse’s Prayer

Merciful God,

Give us wisdom to see what is mindful in chaos.

Give us patience to wait and watch even when the need feels immediate.

Give us knowledge to engage the intellectual and then move beyond to encounter our souls.

Give us courage to move forward in fear and doubt.

Give us physical and emotional strength to persevere in the face of dire circumstances.

May our connection to those we encounter acknowledge and strengthen our oneness.

May we have grace for ourselves in crisis.

May we care for our patients and one another in ways that bring encouragement, foster vulnerability, and create safety.

May our love for others and ourselves be evident in our service to patients.

Help us remember that what we do matters in each present moment and throughout moments before us.

Keep us, and those we love, safe from harm. Give us the peace that passes all understanding.

Amen.


A Prayer for Peace

Dear heavenly Father,
We thank you for today.
Though the world is a scary place at the moment, we trust in you.

We ask for Your favor during this time of crisis, that we would have the peace of Jesus,
not the peace of the world,
but the peace that surpasses all understanding.

We ask that you grant us Your strength, for when we are weak,
Your strength is made perfect.

Father,
it is in You that we find security.

There are times when You calm the storm that is raging around us and there are times when You calm us instead of the storm.

Lord, we are weary and weak form worry
and ask that the Holy Spirit bring us comfort during this time of woe.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“In prayer man rises to heaven to dwell with God: in the Word God comes to dwell with man. In prayer man gives himself to God: in the Word God gives himself to man.” – Andrew Murray in The Prayer Life (1912)


A Prayer for Stamina

O loving God, Creator of us all.

In this season of dizzying disorientation, speak to us your hopeful words of comfort.

We do believe that all shall be well.

But we also fear the huge sense of loss that seems so very close.

Help us to find ways to be supportive and loving.

May this pandemic bring out the best in us.

As we socially distance help us to connect in meaningful ways that nurture our wholeness and well-being.

May all that we do contribute to your vision of the beloved community.

Amen.


A Prayer for the Pandemic

I pray for those who are in desperate need during this difficult time.

To those in need of childcare,
my hope is for people to reach out in any way that is healthily possible.

To those who are symptomatic,
my hope is that you seek treatment as soon as possible, and that you do not feel alone throughout this whole process.

To those who are awaiting test results and who test positive,
my hope is that you are blessed with a medical team that reminds you in every moment that you are someone who is deserving of love and compassion throughout this extremely fearful time.

To those who have loved ones who are struggling with this,
my hope is that you find time to share with your loved one(s). Even if that time is shared from a distance and not even within the same building; my hope is that you find a way.

To the medical staff who are working in these terrifying environments:
my hope is that you allow others to be there for you throughout all of this. As people in “helping” professions, we often neglect ourselves, and each of us are finding that we, in fact, need to ask for help sometimes. My hope is that you find the courage to allow some of the weight you carry to be lifted or held with you.

To those who may be alone in the end:
My heart breaks for you and your families. There are no words to describe the amount of tears in my heart that I have for those who experience death alone. To the patients, to the families, and to the medical staff who are caring deeply in every way you can, I pray for you. May the universe hold you, and remind you that we are all connected in breath and spirit.


Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I 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.


Blessing in the Chaos

To all that is chaotic in you, let there come silence.

Let there be a calming of the clamoring,
a stilling of the voices that have laid their claim on you, that have made their home in you,
that go with you even to the holy places but
will not let you rest,
will not let you hear your life with wholeness
or feel the grace that fashioned you.

Let what distracts you cease. Let what divides you cease.

Let there come an end to what diminishes and demeans, and let depart all that keeps you in its cage.

Let there be an opening into the quiet that lies beneath the chaos, where you find the peace you did not think possible
and see what shimmers within the storm.

-from Jan Richardson’s “The Cure for Sorrow”


Blessing of Courage

I cannot say where it lives,
only that it comes to the heart that is open, to the heart that asks,
to the heart that does not turn away.

It can take practice,
days of tugging at what keeps us bound,
seasons of pushing against what keeps our dreaming small.

When it arrives,
it might surprise you by how quiet it is,
how it moves with such grace for possessing such power.

But you will know it by the strength that rises from within you to meet it, by the release of the knot in the center of your chest that suddenly lets go.

You will recognize it by how still your fear becomes as it loosens its grip, perhaps never quite leaving you,
but calmly turning into joy
as you enter the life that is finally your own.

-from Jan Richardson’s “The Cure for Sorrow”


Blessing of Hope

So, may we know the hope that is not just for someday but for this day—

here, now, in this moment that opens to us:

hope not made of wishes but of substance,
hope made of sinew and muscle and bone,
hope that has breath and a beating heart,
hope that will not keep quiet and be polite,
hope that knows how to holler when it is called for,
hope that knows how to sing when there seems little cause, hope that raises us from the dead—

not someday but this day, every day, again, and again and again.

-from Jan Richardson’s “The Cure for Sorrow”


Blessing for the Brokenhearted

“There is no remedy for love but to love more.” – Henry David Thoreau

Let us agree for now
that we will not say the breaking makes us stronger
or that it is better to have this pain than to have done without this love.

Let us promise
we will not tell ourselves time will heal the wound,
when every day our waking opens it anew.

Perhaps for now
it can be enough to simply marvel
at the mystery of how a heart so broken can go on beating,
As if it were made for precisely this—
As if it knows the only cure for love is more of it,
As if it sees the heart’s sole remedy for breaking is to love still,

As if it trusts that its own persistent pulse
is the rhythm of a blessing we cannot begin
to fathom but will save us nonetheless.

-from Jan Richardson’s “The Cure for Sorrow”


Blessing for One Who Is Exhausted

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
time takes on the strain until it breaks;
then all the unattended stress falls in on the mind
like an endless, increasing weight.

The light in the mind becomes dim.

Things you could take in your stride before
now become labor-some events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
dragging down every bone.

The tide you never valued has gone out
and you are marooned on unsure ground.

Something within you has closed down
and you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.

The desire that drove you has relinquished.

There is nothing else to do now but rest
and patiently learn to receive the self
you have forsaken in the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
and sadness take over like listless weather.

The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses,
open up to all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
when it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
taking time to open the well of color
that fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
until its calmness can claim you.

Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.

Learn to linger around someone of ease
who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
having learned a new respect for your heart
and the joy that dwells far within slow time.

– from John O’Donohue, “To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings”


Blessing for Equilibrium

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
As the wind wants to make everything dance,
As water takes whatever shape it is in,
May the music of laughter break through your soul.

May your gravity be lightened by grace.

Like the freedom of the monastery bell,
May clarity of mind make your eyes smile.

So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May a sense of irony give you perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames,
May fear or worry never put you in chains.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough.

To hear in the distance the laughter of God.

– from John O’Donohue, “To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings”


Blessing for Suffering

May you be blessed in the holy names of those
Who, without knowing it,
Help to carry and lighten your pain.

May you know serenity
When you are called
To enter the house of suffering.

May a window of light always surprise you.
May you be granted the wisdom
To avoid false resistance;
When suffering knocks on the door of your life,
May you glimpse its eventual gifts.

May you be able to receive the fruits of suffering.
May memory bless and protect you
With the hard earned light of past travail;
To remind you that you have survived before
And though the darkness is now deep,

You will soon see approaching light.
May the grace of time heal your wounds.

May you know that though the storm may rage,
Not a hair of your head will be harmed.

– from John O’Donohue, “To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings”


A Prayer for a Patient to Read for Themselves

(Shared by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center – “Prayers for Those Affected by COVID 19”)

Dear God,

Help me be aware of how much my family and friends love me,
even though they can’t be with me.

Remind them of how much I love each of them.
I am also mindful of the pets who share life with us.

Help me feel your love and presence
as you guide me through this time of sickness.

Let good memories sustain me as I wait for the future to unfold.

Give the people caring for me wisdom and strength.

Free me from pain, free me from fear.

Surround me with your love, empower me with your courage.

Amen


A Prayer for a Patient to Read for Themselves – 2

(Shared by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center – “Prayers for Those Affected by COVID 19”)

God of Love and Comfort,

Here I am, sick and in the hospital.
Please take away any fear or pain I may experience.

Guide the staff who are caring for me.

Help me remember that I am not alone,
because you are with me,
and because I am surrounded by love from my family and friends.

Help my family and friends to know that I am sending them love, too.

In your name I pray,

Amen.


A Prayer for a Patient to Read for Themselves – 3

God of Love and Comfort,

Here I am in this hospital.

I’ve never been this sick before.

I don’t feel well, and I am afraid.

Please help me; have mercy on me.

I didn’t want this to happen.

There are people who need me.

There are things I hope to do in my life.

Please heal me, so I can return to my family, and accomplish my dreams.

No matter what happens next,
make sure the people I care about know that I love them.

I want them to know I’m grateful for them and I will never forget them.

Amen.


Jewish Prayer for Healing

May the One who blessed our ancestors — Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah —
bless and heal this one who is ill.

May the Holy Blessed One
overflow with compassion upon him/her, to restore him/her,
to heal him/her,
to strengthen him/her,
to enliven him/her.

May the Holy Blessed One send him/her
a complete healing —
healing of the soul and healing of the body — along with all who are ill:
among the people of Israel and all humankind, soon, speedily,
without delay,
and let us all say:

Amen!


Muslim Prayer for Healing Sickness

Oh Allah!
The Sustainer of Mankind!

Remove the illness;
remove our suffering; cure the disease.

Heal me as You are the Healer,
and none can heal but You.

You are the One Who cures;
there is no cure except Your cure.

Grant a cure that leaves no illness;
bring about a healing that leaves behind no aliment.


Act of Spiritual Communion


(For Catholic patients who desire communion but are unable to receive.)

My Jesus, I believe that
You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.

I love You above All things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.

Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.

I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.

Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.


The Old Time “Instant Pot” 

By Baptist Health Chaplain Jackie Ward

Have you heard about the new “Instant Pot?” It is a pot that cooks food quickly under pressure. “Back in the day,” we called that a “pressure cooker”. Although the new Instant Pots cook food under pressure, they are very different from the ones of old. The old-time pressure cooker could be classified as a dangerous weapon. If left unattended, the pressure inside the pot could blow the lid off, projecting that lid at a high rate of speed. I have heard of people being injured, but it usually just created a big mess with food being thrown all over the kitchen. I have even heard stories of a pressure cooker causing green beans to be imbedded into ceilings.

My Mom was an expert when it came to pressure cookers. The old pressure cookers started their pressure cooking when water came to a boiling point under a closed lid, which caused the steam to escape through a small opening. As that steam escaped, a small weight would be placed over the opening, causing the pressure to build up inside the pot. We called that weight a “rocker” because it would rock back and forth. As the pressure would gradually build up, it would begin to rock pretty violently. As soon as the rocker started to rock, my Mom would start her count down, and when the cooking was done, she would remove the rocker. Steam would come gushing out. When the steam stopped, she knew it was safe to open the lid.

Now is a time in our lives when pressure is felt by everyone in many different ways. For many in our community, it may be the loss of their jobs. In our facility the pressure may come as we take care of the sick, the building, the payroll, the cleaning, the cooking, and the safety of each person here. Although we love our families, being stuck in our homes can cause pressure as well. The rocker is shaking pretty hard. You may find yourself getting a little frayed. It is my prayer and hope for each of you that you will be able to find a place, a person, or an activity that will allow you to pull the rocker off and let the steam out.

David felt those moments of pressure. He let his pressure out as he “cried out” honestly to God. In Psalm 94:18-19, David says these words to God: “I cried out, ‘I am slipping!’ but your unfailing love, O LORD, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”

So, find your space, lift off that rocker, and allow the pressure to be released. Find that time for yourself, in your own way. It may be spending time with family – in person or on Face Time, or you may just need to find a place to be alone and “cry out” to God. Find someone to talk to. David felt himself slipping and he cried out to God. When he did, he felt the support of God’s unfailing love, and he found renewed hope and cheer.

So today, in the midst of the pressure around us, may you feel the support of God’s unfailing love, and in His arms of comfort, may you find renewed hope and cheer.


Find Hope and Healing with Baptist Health

If you’re struggling with your mental health, you’re not alone. At Baptist Health, we focus on the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. Our behavioral health services provide care for individuals dealing with mental illness, such as anxiety, depression, and drug and alcohol dependency. With treatment plans tailored to meet each person’s needs, we help our patients understand and manage their conditions. Learn more about our Behavioral Health services, or find a Baptist Health provider near you.


Next Steps and Useful Resources:

Find a Behavioral Health Provider
Suicide Awareness and Screening
Dealing with Social Anxiety Post-Pandemic
Facing 2021 With Hope and Resolve
Hospital Leader Talks Hope and Healing

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