Prayers for use during the current pandemic

The global pandemic of COVID-19 is many things, including a public health challenge and a test of community, but most importantly for Christians, an occasion of prayer. The Anglican prayer book tradition offers resources for this moment of trial, in its prayers and liturgies, some of them not well known or obvious.

God of the present moment,
God who in Jesus stills the storm
and soothes the frantic heart;
bring hope and courage to your people
as we wait in uncertainty.
Bring hope that you will make us the equal
of whatever lies ahead.
Bring us courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.
(New Zealand Prayer Book, p. 747)

Almighty and merciful God, in your goodness keep us, we pray, from all things that may hurt us, that we, being ready both in mind and body, may accomplish with free hearts those things which belong to your purpose; Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(Episcopal Church, 1979, BCP, 229).

Grant, O Lord, that the course of this world may be peaceably governed by your providence; and that your Church may joyfully serve you in confidence and serenity; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Episcopal Church, 1979, BCP, 229).

Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in these our supplications and prayers, and dispose the way of your servants towards the attainment of everlasting salvation; that among all the changes and chances of this mortal life, they may ever be defended by your gracious and ready help; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Episcopal Church, 1979, BCP, 832).

O most mighty and merciful God, in this time of grievous sickness, we flee unto thee for succour. Deliver us, we beseech thee, from our peril; give strength and skill to all those who minister to the sick; prosper the means made use of for their cure; and grant that, perceiving how frail and uncertain our life is, we may apply our hearts unto that heavenly wisdom which leadeth to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
( 1928 BCP, 45).

O Almighty and merciful God, with whom are the issues of life and death: Grant us, we beseech thee, help and deliverance in this time of grievous sickness and mortality, and sanctify to us this affliction, that in our sore distress we may turn our hearts unto thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(1929 Scottish BCP, 42).

O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to hear us; and grant that we, to whom you have given a fervent desire to pray, may, by your mighty aid, be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 3rd ed., 37).

his set of versicles and responses from Morning Prayer, anciently appended to the Te Deum, have an element of solemn supplication, for corporate or individual use:

V. Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance;
R. Govern and uphold them, now and always.

V. Day by day we bless you;
R. We praise your Name for ever.

V. Lord, keep us from all sin today;
R. Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.

V. Lord, show us your love and mercy;
R. For we put our trust in you.

V. In you, Lord, is our hope;
R. And we shall never hope in vain
(Episcopal BCP, 98).

stanza from “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” is appropriate, especially for individual use:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger (Hymnal, 370).

The antiphon attached to the Nunc Dimittis at Compline falls into this same category:

Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may rest with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace (BCP, 135).

The collect for the Third Sunday in Lent we hear every year, however, and is certainly timely now:

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all
adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP, 218).

May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
Remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no safe place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.

As fear grips our country,
let us choose love.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.

(Cameron Wiggins Bellm)