Two signs outside St. Matthews Lutheran Church on King Street reassure pedestrians and passing cars of God's faithfulness during this difficult year.
"God is with us in the wilderness," one of them reads. "And the wilderness does not last forever."
In advance of the Charleston Leadership Foundation's annual Prayer Breakfast on Nov. 19, we asked readers to describe how the power of prayer has helped them weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following is a selection of their responses. All responses may be found online at postandcourier.com.
Alone in the time of COVID
My daily life is alone, even more so due to COVID. My fear is large but my faith is strong. Church is on a computer and socialization is by way of a phone and Zoom; and I am missing the feel of grandbabies’ arms about me. Despair waxes and wanes; tears gather but never fall.
Using a journaling Bible, colored pencils, tracing paper, an imagination and Psalms that my mother gave me, I read and highlight passages of comfort, and draw pictures in the margins and revel in the vibrant colors and figures that seem to bring life to the pages. Hours go by and I am lost in the beauty of creativity and spirituality. The day goes by and, though alone, there is a sense of peace and as I look at my creations and pray. I know God will keep us all, my very colorful bible tells me so.
— Wanda L. Marshall
During this time of fear, pain and uncertainty, the phone has become a refuge. I have a weekly conference call with church sisters; our voices bombard heaven with prayers asking God to cover our world in a cloak of strength. With our prayers come the old spiritual songs and our broken voices singing “Oh Lord, I Want You to Help Me,” “Come On in the Room” and ending with the simple “Yes, Jesus Loves Me.”
Together, we are a small group requesting God to cover our friends and families, world leaders, doctors, scientists, first-responders and each of our fellow men with whom we share this earth.
Our prayers and songs to God for a cure and strength for all our fellow men gives me solace, for it is my belief in God that strengthens me. We end with resounding hallelujahs and amens. Our call ends but our faith soars.
— Brenda T. Williams
'Jesus always hears'
If there’s one truth “these unprecedented times” have reinforced for me, it’s that faith and prayer are God’s rescue equipment, not our tools!
To illustrate: Every so often I have a nightmare in which I’m trapped in a dangerous, scary situation. All I can do is yell “Help!” over and over till my husband hears and wakes me up. That’s when I realize the dream wasn’t "real” — and only then can I go back to sleep trusting that I’m safe. (And I thank my husband for having restored me to reality!)
We may well feel we’re trapped in dangerous, scary situations. We may not see a way out, but acknowledging our helplessness is the first step. Even if we can’t quite believe there’s anyone listening, Jesus always hears and answers desperate calls for help. He assures us of His loving presence so we can live in gratitude.
— Dr. Kim Lee
"The Pandemic," a poem
The Pandemic has us far apart
the lonely man has a frustrated heart
the social things that ﬁlled his day
have closed or seemed simply too far away
Restaurants, Movies, Libraries, or workouts in the Gym
Churches and Clubs are closed to him
a book, the Garden or simply time to Pray
gently points us
to a future Brighter Day
Turning to scripture
During the pandemic, the FEAR crept in. I would pray to Jesus, and He would bring Bible verses to mind.
Isaiah 41:10: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Jesus upheld me as we faced my daughter’s pregnancy and delivery. Would her husband be able to be by her side at the hospital? Would one of us unknowingly expose their newborn to COVID-19? Would my mother, who lives in a retirement home, be able to meet her first great-grandchild in person?
I Peter 5:7 was comforting: “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” Jesus loves each of us and invites us to believe in Him. I have found Jesus to be a trustworthy anchor through all storms.
— Eugenia Kornegay
Uncertainty like a hurricane
In the Lowcountry, hurricanes create uncertainty every year. But unlike a hurricane that wreaks physical damage and destruction along its path, COVID-19 has unleashed social and psychological devastation. But it has also forced reorganization of lifestyles and agendas, often with more healthy and efficient alternatives.
For me, this pandemic, coupled with a milestone 60th birthday, sparked reflection, and introspection. Forced to slow down, to reassess priorities, my ever insistent “to do” list has been replaced by my “What to do, God?”
Plans and schedules disrupted, a slip-shod approach to devotion and prayer has been replaced by an intentional, morning ritual that focuses on gratitude and purposeful prayer.
Replacing “in reach” with outreach feels so much more meaningful. Instead of mapping out days filled with activities and appointments, I am fully releasing myself to God’s plan and purpose for my life. Jeremiah 29:11.
—Michelle Collins Page
Learning to be 'truly still'
The pandemic of 2020, one we never could have imagined, as the clock struck midnight on the last day of December 2019. Ringing in a new year of “Perfect Vision” As I look back maybe that is exactly what is happening this year of 2020. Perfect Vision with our sights on our Lord and Savior. I would never want to go back to who I was before this began. Caring about things that were ridiculous. Staying in quarantine has allowed me to be truly still and know my GOD. To truly learn salvation is not earned it is freely given by grace. Prayer is the most beautiful time we will spend on this planet. GOD is listening. We will all never be who we were when this has passed through time. We will be better somehow. Our Faith in our Lord is the Perfect Vision indeed.
— Paula Ferrell
Praying the rosary every day
COVID-19 is but one challenge we have had to endure in 2020. However, the isolation as a result of COVID has created feelings of fear, depression and lack of hope in many.
I was struck by my impotence to physically help others. That’s when it hit me that the one thing I could do to help others worldwide is to pray the rosary daily. I began this practice in March 2020.
Most days I pray the rosary while walking in our neighborhood. This simple action never ceases to improve my attitude and it is my hope that my prayers are helping someone most in need.
— Marilyn Schaffner
Seniors and COVID
Covid-19 caused many changes in the way we live. Here at The Palms, a senior living facility, our average age is the mid-80s. For our protection we have limited contact with others. Thankfully, the rules in place have worked, but residents can feel isolated and alone. We all need to interact with other.
The other night I read a devotion about talking with God. It stated, "There is nothing more worth living for than this: to satisfy God in His longing for human fellowship and love." This caused me to recall the times that I neglected to talk and fellowship with God and how that made Him feel.
What I learned from this is as a Christian, I am never alone. Jesus said "I will never leave you or forsake you." If we spend time reading the Bible and talking and listening to God in prayer, we cannot feel isolated. God is always ready and happy to hear from us. Unlike cell phones, we are never out of His service area.
— Bob Inglett
Praying for the practice
On April 5, 2020, after a prompting by the Holy Spirit, I went to my husband's (dental) practice. As I stood on the porch, I thrust my hands on the brick wall and began to pray. I began with thanksgiving and praising, then I reminded God of His Promises. The tears were flowing. Thereafter, I began marching around the office, praying and speaking God's blessings over this practice and its staff. I felt like I was going to drop in my tracks, as I was weak and recovering from a very dicey, yet miraculous surgery just two weeks prior. After marching around the office seven times, I snapped a photo to serve as a reminder of that day to reflect upon in the future, as I knew we were facing the unknown. God is my source.
— Barbara S. Pratt
'I Pray All Day Long'
I pray all day long. My constant prayer is an ongoing conversation with God that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I pray, I feel God’s presence around me and rest in it. In my morning prayer and scripture time, I always spend a few minutes in gratitude, thanking God for one or two of the blessings, big and small, that I’ve received lately. At the end of the day, I remember all the miraculous ways he has answered my prayers and thank Him for his generosity. Prayer and trust in God are the way to live life every single day — not just during the pandemic. When you are grounded in your prayer life and deliberately spending time with God each day, there is nothing you can’t face.
— Mottie Derrick Wieters
'Weathering the storms'
Prayer is an integral part of my life. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, I simply continued my daily time of prayer, which includes Bible reading and praying for missionaries and others around the world.
Being grounded in my faith in God before the coronavirus crisis started has carried me through these difficult days. Because I am old enough to have lived through a variety of hard experiences, I learned many years ago that the key to weathering the storms of life was found in a daily time of prayer and Bible study.
It is in this daily time with God that I am reminded of His love, presence, guidance, wisdom and blessings. Yes, I have a discouraging day from time to time, but overall, "I am too blessed to be distressed."
— Joy Bolton
Fulfilling the scriptures
The Great Commandments, Love God and your neighbor as yourself, resonate powerfully in this plague time. While I reflected on how I should think and act on this (and still keep my own family's needs in mind), I realized I had an opportunity to assist a single mother and her family. This opportunity was clearly a chance to fulfill the scriptural injunction: "And if a brother or sister be naked and want daily food: and one of you say to him, Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled, yet give them not those things that are necessary for the body, what shall it profit ... wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? (Epistle of James, chapter 1, vs 14-22) Only after I eventually decided to act did I understand that God Himself provides the means. I only provided the hands and transportation.
— Suzanne Krebsbach
Is God shaking our nation?
The Covid-19 pandemic has presented so many challenges in my daily life. As I watch and listen to the national news my faith is tested every single day. I try to remember that those extreme leftist rioters are being used by satan and he is our enemy, not those rioters. As Kathryn Krogh said so perfectly in your article, we all should turn to 2 Chronicles 7:14 and realize that we must turn to God during these extremely difficult times. As Anne Graham Lotz stated before, “I have to wonder ... Is God using this time of great unsettledness to shake our nation? Is God trying to get our attention?” All Christians throughout the world are probably wondering the same thing. However, I continue to use daily prayer and follow my faith that teaches me that God is still in control, no matter how much lawlessness and hatred I see on TV.
— Bill Honeycutt
'Coffee with Christ'
In these troublesome days of COVID-19 our prayer life, like that of many others, has grown. I begin each day with what my son calls "Coffee with Christ."
Cup in hand I retreat to our back porch and have a quiet time with God. Prayer includes my own words, hymns, psalms, other parts of Scripture, and silence, a listening part of prayer.
I usually begin with thanksgiving for the life I share with my wife, our family, friends, the church and our nation. I pray for others, some near and dear, others distant and unknown to me but not to God.
I praise God for the wonders of the world, creatures great and small, and the vastness of the universe; and I ask questions about it all.
My wife and I pray together regularly and at special times and situations. The church, local and worldwide, is part of our prayer life, as is our country. Through it all, we are learning more about what is called "The Abiding Presence," God with us and his peace that passes all understanding.
— Clarence Derrick
God's invisible hand
2020 has been a year of challenges, yet one in which the invisible hand of God’s providence has been seen. Testimony after testimony can be given to God at work through prayer. God is holding all things together— nourishing, preserving, protecting, and maintaining, and governing everything that exists.
Since January 15, 2020, my sister was diagnosed and battled three different cancers— esophageal, and two different breast cancers. Today she is cancer free! What a testimony of God’s grace, and the power of prayer, as God’s people poured their hearts out for the life of my sweet sister!
In 2020, my book, "Daily ACTS: A Yearly Guide to Prayer and Praise," over 20 years in the making, has been edited, printed and is scheduled for release Nov. 10 — another testimony to God at work through prayer, in ways never dreamed or imagined.
B.M. Palmer said prayer is the “language of creaturely dependence.” Partake and find love, forgiveness, mercy, grace, and peace.
— Lalla Lee Campsen
Thanking God many times a day
I have prayed, prayed, prayed every day, many times a day for our family, extended family, and friends to stay safe and healthy.
I thank God every day, first thing, for our safety and health. I call out our names, one by one, thanking God for our blessings and asking for continued blessing. God is good!
— Jane Freeman