The Church in the midst of this global pandemic looks different than it has ever before. Even in the midst of mass persecutions or empires that sought to destroy Christianity, the Christian life has never before seen the sorts of isolation and social distance we’re experiencing this year. Even so, God is still among us. God still desires to work in the hearts of His people and to make us new, even in this time where it might seem like every day is the same. So, how are we as Christians called to respond to God in this strange world of COVID-19? Honestly, I’m not exactly sure. The details of a response likely look different for each of us, for each of us is experiencing this season in our own way. But, there is at least one thing we’re all called to do together. We’re called to pray. In the midst of doubt, uncertainty, and darkness, we’re called to reach out to God and to invite Him into our experience. We’re called to pray even if we’re not sure what to pray for.
As we do our best to respond to this call to prayer in the midst of a global pandemic, a practical and helpful thing each of us can do is to create an at-home prayer space. One of the gems of Catholicism is our rich history of images, religious sites, relics, and church buildings. We as a Church know the importance of creating beautiful spaces in which to meet God. But, in this season, many of us are not able to worship in the spaces of our home parishes, and even praying privately in those spaces might look rather different. Making a space to pray at home then becomes all the more important. Below, I give some easy tips and some inspiration for creating an at-home prayer space.
Make It Quiet
God speaks to us no matter what, but, sometimes, we can make it easier on ourselves to hear His voice if we find some quiet. Finding a quiet space in your house to pray might help you to focus a little deeper and to listen a little better. For me, that quiet space is my room — if I were to pray at the kitchen table, I’d meet the noise of cooking and TVs and my dogs barking at me. In the quiet of my room however, I can read silently, pray out loud, or just sit and listen for the Lord’s voice. As you create an at-home prayer space, try to find a quiet space in your home. Finding some quiet might also require you to pray at a certain time — if you share your room with someone else, could getting up earlier or choosing a time when others are away gain you some space for silence?
Make It Beautiful
The Catholic Church in building her cathedrals and shrines knows that being in a beautiful space helps one to elevate his soul to heaven. You probably can’t create a beautiful cathedral in your house — if you can then lmk — but, maybe you have a favorite religious image in your home, an icon or small statue, or an illustrated quote or scripture verse. These things are pretty simple, but, adding them into your prayer space can help to set apart an area where you’ll speak to God on purpose. Having some simple religious art can help you to turn your mind to heaven. I carry a small prayer card in the back of my journal that I sometimes take out in prayer just to look at because I think it’s pretty. Do you have something similar? Or, if you don’t have any religious art you’d like to add to a prayer space, could you create some of your own?
Make It Yours
When architects build a church sanctuary, they take into account the people that will worship there and the kind of community that will use the space. My home parish is called Christ the King, so a lot of our sanctuary’s architecture involves different king motifs. Your at-home prayer space is for you, or maybe for you and some other members of your family. So, it’s totally appropriate to make a kind of space that is helpful for you and your specific style of prayer. If you like to pray with reading, make sure your prayer space has enough light to read. If you like to pray by writing, make sure your prayer space has a good surface to write on. Or if you like to pray by listening to music or recorded reflections, make sure you find a quiet space that allows you to hear well. I pray in the morning with a mug of coffee, so, in finding my own at-home prayer space, it was important for me to have a place to sit my coffee down so I don’t burn myself! Think of what will be most helpful to you and your particular prayer life, and bring that into your own prayer space.
Go Easy on Yourself
We’re called to pray during this time, just as we’re called to pray in every other season. But, the circumstances we’re living in right now are frustrating! I want to go out to dinner, and I was hoping to attend my college graduation ceremony this semester. I’m frustrated, and I get bored doing the same thing every day. Even so, I’m called to prayer. But, within that call, the Lord has realistic expectations. I don’t pray the full Liturgy of the Hours every day — doing so wouldn’t be realistic for my state in life and schedule. Instead, I’ve tried to find a rhythm of prayer that matches the kind of life I’m living right now. I’m staying at home and not doing very much at all, so my expectations for my prayer have met that situation. I don’t need to have a massive spiritual revolution every day, and some days I don’t feel like my prayer was very impressive at all. But, I’m called to prayer, not to perfection. As we all continue to navigate our current season, let’s lean into God’s invitation to prayer, trusting that, if we do our best to make a space for the Lord, He will meet us where we are.