Prayers for heavy burdens
Heaviness. It’s all around us. We carry our own personal burdens and some of our burdens are heavy. The load can feel like we’re about to topple over sometimes.
There’s heaviness in the people around us. Our world is dealing with heavy things. There’s always a heaviness yet some individuals carry more than their share. In 2022 there seems more than the usual amount of heaviness around. We are all sharing in some global heaviness.
The pandemic is heavy. We hear heaviness in the voices of those pretending the pandemic is over. We hear heaviness in those struggling with the realities of living and working in a pandemic. We hear heaviness from those who’ve lost someone to covid. We hear heaviness from those who’ve had covid or now have long covid. We hear heaviness in the voices of those longing for the pandemic to end. We hear heaviness in the voices of the medical professionals who have worked so hard for so long. We hear heaviness in the voices of good leaders who’ve kept us all going through these hard times.
The war in Ukraine is heavy. We hear heaviness in the futility of war. We hear heaviness in the stories of ordinary people who have had their lives up-ended. We hear heaviness in the ongoing battle for power and control. We hear heaviness in the impact on the global economy and food chain. I hear heaviness in the messages from my Polish friends who are helping re-home refugees.
Climate change is heavy. We hear heaviness in nature. We hear it in the unseasonal winds and rain, we hear it in the unpredictablity of weather patterns. We hear the heaviness from our politicians and leaders trying to navigate pathways to manage. We hear heaviness in the disruption to our knowledge that the past ways of doing things is changing.
I have been reflecting on heaviness lately and how we respond when we can’t control what is going on around us. Anger, grief, fear, anxiety, depression, denial, sleeplessness, exhaustion… these are all very normal responses to carrying heavy burdens. We feel this heaviness physically in our bodies and we feel it mentally and emotionally. Heaviness weighs us down and it stops us from functioning at our best.
There’s no quick fix to moving this heaviness. While we’re faced with ongoing situations we can’t control causing the heaviness, we can’t just wait it out until the situation resolves. We must find ways of managing the load we carry, while finding a the space to share our heavy burdens.
If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest.
Prayer is not a quick fix, but it does help us find rest. It doesn’t take the burden from us, but for me I find it helps me significantly manage and find resilience in the face of adversity.
Personally I also think sensory experiential prayers are even better than prayers simply spoken, read or thought. They engage us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. If our prayers are multi-sensory we’re giving our bodies information through our nervous system. The senses and emotions share the same neural pathways. Our sensory prayers support our own well-being as well as engaging us beyond ourselves as we respond to our God and to the people of this world who God loves.
The prayers today both use fruit. I decided the theme for this weeks Virtual Prayer Room when I was weighing out mandarins at the fruit shop. My mandarin prayer is one of my oldest and most favourite and I’ve shared it many times before. But here it is again with a twist. I usually use this prayer as a thanksgiving prayer about our own world, but I’ve offered it below in two versions, with an intercession prayer for the whole world. If you can’t find mandarins at this time of year, slice up any piece of fruit to eat in segments.
The second prayer offered uses apples and is in two parts. Again these two prayers come from my collection of old and well-used prayers. The first apple prayer is a prayer of adoration. I know this series is about praying for others, but it seemed to fit in very nicely with today’s theme. The second apple prayer involves dipping apple slices in cinnamon sugar.
These prayers won’t lift the weight of the world from your shoulders, but they’re a away to do something when it’s hard to know what to do, a way to share a burden when the load is so heavy and a way to find rest.
Peace to you.
Peace to our world.
On the journey
Consider the different segments in your life. Think about things such as places you go to, the different groups of people you interact with, or the tasks or routines that make up your regular week. Hold an easy peel mandarin in your hand. Think of it as your ‘world’. Give thanks to God for the world in which you live as you peel the skin from your mandarin. Now slowly break off each segment, one at a time, eating each segment as you go. As you carry out the breaking off and eating give thanks to God for a specific part or segment of your life. ‘Thank you for… Work, Football, School, University, Drum lessons, Ballet, Painting, Reading, Fishing, Housework…” etc. Finish by saying a one sentence prayer, giving your daily world to God.
Hold the mandarin in your hand and think of the whole world, not just the places and people you interact with on a regular basis. Feel the weight of the world in your hand. Let your thoughts flow towards any heaviness you feel about the state of the world right now. Think of things that are bigger than yourself and bigger than you can resolve. Peel the mandarin and break of each section, one at a time, eating each segment as you go. Name the heaviness you feel for the world. Let your words be your prayer to God.