Hair salons. Restaurants. Churches … Depending on where you live, the list is growing. The economy, and society along with it, is reopening.

I’m happy for the business owners who can operate and anxious for the opportunity to see friends I’ve missed. But I’m also planning on laying low until the crowds and the virus die down. (That is, aside from getting a haircut.)

How does all of this make you feel? Hesitant? Exuberant? Your reaction may be different from the other members in your community, even in your own home. Or maybe your state hasn’t released any plans to reopen, and you’re watching to see what happens elsewhere. We’re all coming at it from different perspectives.

But regardless of how we feel about reopening, we can each ask ourselves: How can I pray through this situation?

First Thessalonians 5:17 says “pray without ceasing.” So wherever you find yourself on the spectrum, here are four ways to pray as life reopens.

Pray for God to calm our fears during reopening phases

I can’t count the number of recent conversations in which I’ve said the words, “I just don’t know.” And now I wonder if reopening is wise for my community. But the unfortunate truth is this: No one knows what will happen as a result.

God is aware of the fear humans emit in unknown situations. The Bible’s more than 100 versions of, “do not be afraid, for I am with you,” tell us just how aware He is. And His “with-ness” is the real antidote. God doesn’t say, “Do not be afraid. Your situation isn’t that bad.” No, it’s His nearness, His hand on our shoulder, His indwelling that calms our fear.

Let’s pray to turn our fears about reopening the economy over to Jesus.

Lord, help me draw near to You when fear surfaces. Help me not depend on my own knowledge, but on Your sovereignty and nearness. Although I don’t know what will happen as we reopen the economy, I trust You and ask You to rescue me and others from dwelling on “what-ifs” and carry on with necessary precautions.  

Pray for economic and health protection of our communities

It’s safe to say many of us have prayed for the end of COVID-19. Not only are we saddened by the ever-increasing death toll, we’re anxious for the health of our economy and the people it affects. Business loss, job loss, home loss is no joke. And as we see signs of reopening, we begin to hope. But we must ask the Lord that His will be done in our economy, whether it means a longer season of financial instability or a quick turnaround.

We also long for health protection. For those who haven’t personally lost someone to the virus, it’s easy to let petitions to God focus on our own comfort instead of the health crisis. But we must remember the reality that people are dying and continue to pray for the safety of others and ourselves.

Let’s be on our knees and ask the great Healer to protect our communities. And lest we believe we’re invincible and it’s by our efforts we’re protected, pray for humility and carefulness.

Lord, I humbly ask You will spare our world from more cases and greater economic failure. Please help me be wise as I carefully engage in more public environments, knowing You are ultimately in control of my health. Your power reigns over everything. If it be Your will, please quench this world-stopping virus soon and heal our economy in your timing. 

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Pray for grace

For several weeks, my Bible-study group has rounded up in a local parking lot or field to recreate face-to-face community (while adhering to social-distancing guidelines). It was something I’d been eager to resume since the quarantine began.

But the first two weeks together were more difficult than enjoyable. After spending weeks with just one person, my extroverted muscle had shrunk. I came home drained from the interaction.

I don’t know what other varieties of adjustments we’ll encounter, but I’m sure this time changed us in more ways than we guess. Both in the anticipation of and entering this season, each of us will respond differently. We’ll need to extend grace to ourselves and to others. I’ve already had to be gracious with myself when I wrestled with my drained reaction.

Lord, help me obey what Colossians 3:12 tells us: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” I know how much I desire other people’s patience and kindness when I’m working out my own feelings about the transitions. Help me extend the same compassion to others with different fears and reactions than my own as we reopen.

Pray we won’t forget what God’s taught us

Remember the story of Gideon? “Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the LORD” (Judges 6:6). So God raised up Gideon to defeat surrounding enemies in the Lord’s strength, winnowing down his army to 300 so they couldn’t boast in their own skill (7:2).

But the moment Gideon died, the people “turned again … and made Baal-berith their god. And the people of Israel did not remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them from the hand of all their enemies on every side” (8:33-34).

Why did they reject God after He saved them? Because they forgot their need of Him when they returned to “normal.”

We aren’t immune to the Israelites’ behavior. We’ve experienced desperation for God in recent months. But as perceived control slips back into our lives, pray against forgetting our great need for Him and the work He’s done in our hearts.

Lord, forgive us when we lose our urgency to hear Your voice and feel Your arms around us. We always need You like we’ve needed You during the COVID-19 pandemic. Help me remember Your sufficiency when I start grasping for control, and foster in me a habit of reflecting on Your work in my life. I want to be more dependent on You every day.

Copyright © 2020 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

Lauren Miller serves on staff with FamilyLife as a writer in Little Rock, Arkansas, though she’ll always be a California girl. She graduated from Biola University and the Torrey Honors Institute where the Lord first planted in her a love for family and marriage ministry. As a single, she loves serving the youth at her church, watching British dramas, and reading a good book in her free time.