AT-HOME SPIRITUAL FORMATION

What can Christians do in the face of a global pandemic?

No doubt, the threat of Coronavirus has brought an unprecedented global shutdown, the likes of which we’ve never seen in our lifetime. As individuals and families mostly stay quarantined in their homes, this brings the global Church to an interesting question: “What do we do when we can’t gather?”

While this situation is throwing most of our individual and corporate rhythms into a tailspin, consider that there could be advantages to all this, too. There may be some unforeseen benefits to us as individual Christians. How could we redeem our newfound “down time” for a renewal of personal/family rhythms? 

Here’s some idea to get you started during this season of relative isolation.

Create a personal or family schedule and be intentional about building in some time to focus on Jesus. Individuals may be able to devote longer-than-usual times to encountering God through prayer, Scripture reading, and worship - extended times like these can be monumental in a believer’s life! Families might consider planning their “devotional” time in smaller chunks, based on the attention span of their respective families. Think about when the best times in your schedule are for some focused “Jesus time.”

Talk with the Holy Spirit and your family about what your “new normal” rhythm could look like, and how that could involve Jesus in a meaningful way. 

Make a Bible reading plan. Many of us have a lot of extra time on our hands. Rather than planning out our Netflix-binge-watching, what about creating a reading plan to dig into Scripture during this time? Some might find having a goal (ie. “I’m going to read through the entire New Testament in 8 weeks”) helpful, while others might want to set a specific time period (ie. “I want to read for 15 minutes a day”) easiest. Pick something that works well for you, and see how your perspective of God and the Bible changes as you read more regularly. 

Needing some helpful commentaries as you read? The Bible Project is a wonderful video resource for understanding Scripture, and the internet is full of free commentaries!

Explore new ways of praying. Whether you’re praying as a family or individual, consider trying to pray in some new ways. Here’s some ideas to get you started:

  • Journal your prayers (including answers to prayers!)

  • Pray As You Go daily prayer & Scripture podcast

  • Text friends and family and ask how you can pray for them

  • Pray against the spread of Coronavirus, and pray for healing for those that are sick or dying. 

  • Lectio Divina (Scripture-based listening prayer.)

 

Praying together with your family? Family prayer times can be challenging, as kids tend to have much shorter attention spans and unseen spiritual realities can be hard for children to grasp. Here’s a few tips for praying with children at home:

  • Make a game of it. No one said prayer time can’t be fun! Create prayer-games like “each person pray for the person on your left” or “one minute listening for Jesus.” 

  • Don’t be hard on yourself (or worse, your kids) if they’re struggling to pay attention. If the kids aren’y engaging and you’ve tried to redirect multiple times, consider moving on and trying again tomorrow. Even a few minutes a day of consistency will help kids learn to engage over time. 

  • Take their requests seriously. A “boo-boo” or hurt feelings over a toy might seem like trite prayer requests to us as adults, but taking your children’s requests to the Lord no matter how small or silly it seems teaches them that God cares about their needs and wants to hear from them! Try not to correct your children when praying, but encourage free expression to God their Father. 

  • With that said, teaching by means of encouragement can be a wonderful way to spur on your child’s prayer life. Saying encouraging things like, “You are powerful because you’ve invited Jesus’ Spirit into your heart!” or “You must feel very sad about that toy - you know we can take that sadness to Jesus?” teaches your child that Jesus isn’t scared of them or their prayers. 

 

Serve the community around you. Times of trial and suffering have always been a great opportunity for the Church to serve the world around us. In the midst of so much fear of the unknown, we are “priests” to our communities, signposts of hope in Jesus. Not just hope for the future, but hope for the here-and-now God who answers prayer and cares for us. 

Here’s a few ideas on how to help the community around you in this season:

  • Find out what the needs are in your immediate neighborhood. Even if you haven’t known your neighbors well up to this point, now’s a great time to reach out. While face-to-face interaction might be limited, consider dropping a flyer with your name and number door-to-door, or use neighborhood apps like “Next Door” to stay posted on the needs in your area. In general make yourself available to help, pray, and support as needed. 

  • If you’re able, run errands for neighbors who can’t get out. 

  • Especially reach out to anyone you know who’s in the “high risk” category (the elderly, people with compromised immune system, chronic illness, etc. 

  • Consider folks who might struggle due to loneliness in this season. While some of us are at home with families, others are by themselves for long stretches of time. Reach out to those folks and check in via phone, text, or video calls. 

  • Let your community know if you’re in need of help. In these strange times, there will likely be many needs arise that come as a surprise. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help.

 

Stay connected to church family during this time, and connect with others who need Jesus. None of us probably every imagined a day where we’d thank God for social media! But the internet (and social media) is a tool just like email - it can be used for bad things, or it can be used for wonderful Kingdom things. Use your time of “social distance” to stay connected to friends and check in with folks via social networks. Stay out of internet-arguments (or complaining), and consider how you can be a “light” in places like Instagram or Facebook.