Recently, I wanted to find out how some young people were feeling about COVID, faith and their prayer life. It was a small taste of the disruption COVID has had on all of our lives and how we’ve all been challenged to dig a bit deeper to hang on to prayer, our connection to God and our connections to each other.
Many of us had to adjust to online church services, on-line school and on-line meet ups. It was a weird time for sure. We felt an immediate and complete disconnection to relationships we’ve grown to love and depend on – our relationship with God, our relationships with friends and our relationships with loved ones we could no longer see in person.
Not being able to physically go to church services meant we had to really commit to attending in a different way, through YouTube services. It wasn’t easy and some did and some didn’t.
Gabe Loomis said, “COVID has affected my faith life because I hadn’t been able to go in Mass and pray instead I had to pray at my house which is o.k. but I would rather, if I could, be in the house of God.” At Mass I feel like I am more in touch with God but at home there are many distractions.
Liam Bradley said, “COVID has affected me because when they stopped having Mass I felt like I was pulled away from God and my prayer life was slowing and I wasn’t praying as much.”
Sarah Cate Bradley said, “COVID has affected us because we can’t go to church events like Rise Up (note from me: Rise Up did host PopUp Rise Up and hopefully, God willing, will be back on track this May) and we can’t hold hands…and sometimes we can’t even attend church.
Gabe, Liam and Sarah Cate felt an emptiness, a change and they were forced to adjust. Gabe spoke about distractions when watching services on-line. He said some of them were things like being able to see what’s going on outside, his little brothers were playing with toys nearby and he was really comfy on that couch. I, as an adult, had some of the same distractions. The couch was really comfy. I had to really make myself focus and participate. It was hard for sure. But all of us felt a need to worship God who loves us so much. We had to go to Him no matter how hard it was.
Relationships with friends was hard too. First of all, you couldn’t see them in person. So sometimes the posts weren’t as nice and respectful as they could have been. Some young people have told me about the bullying they received. With heightened emotions, some young people didn’t know how to handle those feelings – feelings of loneliness, despair, isolation. If you’re feeling any of these things, reach out to someone and let them know. Talk to your pastor, your parent or other adult you trust. They can help.
And prayer is important! Take some time to go into a quiet place and be still. Listen to God. Talk to him. Luke Loomis says, “ I pray best at the end of the day before I go to bed and during Mass.” Sarah Cate says, “ I pray best in my room…because that’s where I have the most focus.” Liam say’s, “I pray best in my room because it’s quiet and I can focus.” You too can find your quiet place and the place where you can focus.
Our relationships and prayer should go hand in hand. Liam and Sarah Cate both pray before making hard decisions. Liam says, “I ask Him to help me make the right choices when I’m with my friends.:” Sarah Cate told me of a time when a friend pressured her to do something she knew was wrong. She said, “I prayed to God for strength to tell her no.”
So as things begin to get back to normal. Remember all these feelings. Remember how you felt when you couldn’t go to church. Remember the distance you felt from your family and friends and don’t take all of that for granted. Praise God. Connect to Him and connect to friends in a positive uplifting way.
And one last note about prayer…even Liam finds a time and place. It’s right before a test. How many of you have prayed then? I know I have!
Rise Up lifts all of your in prayer. See you at Rise Up soon!