The Great Litany
“I lie awake; I am like a lonely bird on the housetop.” – Psalm 102:7
Greetings, fellow disciples of Jesus,
Have you lately, like the psalmist, found yourself lying awake at night? Have you, like a lonely bird on the housetop, found yourself feeling alone, isolated—not just socially, but emotionally and spiritually? If so, you are not alone.
The pandemic and the resultant physical distancing, the economic challenges brought about because of the pandemic, the social unrest of these past months, the political divisions so evident on our televisions and radios, our streets and in our own families…all these have increased stress and depression and isolation in and among us.
In such times, disciples of Jesus follow His example and pray.
And in praying, we find we are not alone.
Last Thursday night, in the wake of the violence witnessed in our nation’s capital, we gathered online for the service of Prayer at the Close of Day (“Compline”). As a part of the liturgy, we prayed the Great Litany, an ancient prayer with roots going back some 1,600 years.
As we prayed, I was reminded of the communion of saints who prayed these same words over the centuries. I was comforted by the fact that we are not the first generation to go through times of unrest and pandemic. When our fathers and mothers in the faith experienced such trials, they prayed. Many of them prayed this very prayer.
In Christ, through the gift of baptism, we are connected with the faithful who are now at rest in Him. The God to whom they prayed, who heard their prayer and saw them through the trials they faced is the same Lord Jesus by whose name we, too, are called and who has promised to hear our prayer. He is faithful and He will see us through. He will make good on His promises.
There were a few petitions in particular which resonated with me. I have included them below. As you pray them, remember—you are not alone. You are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, and God Himself is with you.
“From war, bloodshed, and violence; from corrupt and unjust government; from sedition and treason: Good Lord, deliver us.”
“From epidemic, drought, and famine; from fire and flood, earthquake, lightning, and storm, and everlasting death: Good Lord, deliver us.”
“To give to all nations justice and peace; to preserve our country from discord and strife; to direct and guard those who have civil authority and to bless and guide all our people: We implore you to hear us, good Lord.”
“To forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, and to reconcile us to them…and graciously to hear our prayers. We implore you to hear us, good Lord.”
The peace of Christ be with you,