In many ways, we have forgotten how to pray — especially to pray with the richness and succinctness of expression of the historic church.  It is reassuring to remember that we are not the first people to face events that disrupt life and bring with them fear, anxieties, and worry. From its earliest days in the book of Acts and throughout the various pandemics of history, the church has faced uncertainty by turning to God in prayer.

Paul wrote to the Philippian church, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7)

When we pray historic prayers we don’t only affirm the truths they express, but we also join with that great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us desiring peace; courage in the face of adversity; an end to sickness, loneliness, and death; and for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. Their prayers invigorate our prayers, and their old words give us new language at a time when it can be difficult to know what to say.

A “collect” is a term often unknown to Christians today. Collects are short prayers used in the gathered church. In their origin, then, they have a communal purpose — that of God’s people praying while gathered together. Collects, though, can certainly have an individual devotional use as well.

This is why we at The Washington Institute have worked over the past weeks to compile Prayers During the Pandemic.  The 21 collects collected here span the history of the church and invite each of us to cultivate a life of prayer as we navigate the uncertainty of our lives today. You can download this resource for free here. We pray that these collects would be a blessing for your prayer life.

A Prayer for Trust

Heavenly Father,
you are indeed my Lord and God!
You made me out of nothing and redeemed me through your Son.
You have commanded and appointed me to perform my duties and labors,
which I, however, cannot accomplish as I desire,
and there are many troubles that frighten and oppress me,
so that I am, as to my own power,
without help and consolation;
therefore I commend all things into your hands.
Help and console me, and be my all in all.

We are richer when we follow those who through simple prayers express our profound need for our sovereign and loving God.

[1]  Attributed to Martin Luther and sourced from “A Collection of Prayers.”

D.S. Chapman is a writer and poet. He grew up in the Pacific Northwest, studied English at Grove City College, completed the Capital Fellows Program at McLean Presbyterian Church, and currently lives and works in Northern Virginia.

Meet D.S. Chapman