I’m often asked, “How can I pray for and with all that is happening in our world without falling deeply into anxiety, fear, and/or despair?”
Events in our world are often disturbing, confusing, sad, and painful. In addition, social media, videos, images, content, and news can bombard us and be triggering for those of us who have experiences of trauma. We have more information available to us through screens in just one day than an average person one hundred years ago would have had in their entire lifetime. It can all feel overwhelming.
The lens through which we view our news is often through the tiny horizon of our screens. David Whyte invited viewers in a recent video broadcast to “put down our screens, which limit our horizons, go for a walk, and get in touch with the horizon inside and outside of ourselves.”
The prayer below is one of my favorite ways to pray with the news. There are many ways to pray with events in our world, and this prayer is one way. My experience has been that this kind of Ignatian prayer, the desire to “see God in all things” through the prayer of consideration, can create a kind of widened band width for me to connect with and experience the reality of God’s presence. This prayer was originally written by Jacqueline Syrup Bergan and Marie Schwan, CSJ. I have made some adaptations.
Praying with the News
If anything during this prayer feels unsafe or too much, please stop and take a break. Do some deep breathing, do a grounding exercise, and do what you need to do to take good care of you. Healing takes time.
Please be gentle with yourself.
Begin by slowing down. Take some deep breaths, grounding yourself in the present moment. Scan your body, becoming aware of any places of tension or tightness. Welcome those places and all the parts of you with compassionate curiosity. Every part of you belongs.
Become aware of God’s long, loving gaze on you. Stay in that gaze for about 30 seconds. If it feels like an invitation, let yourself be grounded in the reality of God's presence with you.
Hold the daily news (an actual newspaper, if you can find one) in your hand, as if you were holding the planet. Ask for God’s blessings on our broken and beautiful world.
Share your honest feelings about the news with God. Let your feelings be a doorway. Invite God into those feelings and spend some time with God there.
Ask for the grace to see our world as Christ sees it, with compassion rather than cynicism, with sympathy and understanding rather than criticism. Let it be a way of expanding your heart and broadening your horizon.
Try to enter into the experience of the people who are reported on or imaged there. See them as Christ sees them; silently ask God’s healing presence to be with them. Let this be a place of connection rather than disconnection.
Trust that your own efforts toward seeing and loving the world is also, somehow, a way of reaching out to others, and bringing into consciousness the gift of hope offered in the compassionate and healing presence of the Spirit of God.
Imagine moving into your day with a broader horizon, more hope, more compassion for yourself and others, and a deeper level of trust in the Divine Creator.
Ask God if there is anything else God may be inviting you to know, feel, do, image, see, experience, grow in awareness of, and/or carry with you into the arenas of your life. If you sense you're being invited to a response or action, consider how you might do that while being grounded in the reality of God's presence with you as Divine co-regulator.
Pause in gratitude, thanking God for Divine light, hope, and love.
End your prayer by becoming aware of God’s long, loving gaze on you. Remain in that gaze for about 30 seconds.
When you feel ready, slowly move your joints, wiggle your fingers and toes, open your eyes, and come back into the room.
Consider journaling about your experience, using words, colors, and/or images, as you feel drawn to do so.
Praying the Newspaper: Gift of Hope, originally written by Jacqueline Syrup Bergan and Marie Schwan, CSJ. Loved and Loving, A Guide for Prayer (98), adapted by Tongua Williams
Cannon Beach image credit: Natalie G. Williams
Information about David Whyte and his broadcasts may be found at www.davidwhyte.com
To learn more about the prayer of consideration check out our blog post: https://www.soulcaresanctuary.org/post/horses-speak-of-god-and-the-prayer-of-consideration