Thought for the Month, Clare Byfield

Pandemic time has been a very strange time, taking over our lives. It has taken away a lot of our freedom and drastically changed our relationships. Although my children and I have not been required to shield during this pandemic, we took the decision to stay at home as much as possible and still are. We have gone out for essential shopping and spent time in the garden which we are so grateful to have, taken the dog out for walks very early in the mornings so that we see as few people as possible, I have worked solely from home as has my son and daughter on their education and my daughter returned to work. I did get brave and venture out a couple of times to meet with a dear friend from Fallowfield Methodist Church for a walk in the park but my children would not join us as their confidence was still low which was hardly surprising considering that my other daughter, despite being careful, did actually catch coronavirus. Although she was initially quite poorly, I am so thankful that after 4 days of worry, she began to recover and after three weeks, she is back to full health.

During the time she was ill, I prayed more than I have ever prayed before, “Loving Lord, please, please help my daughter to recover”, “Lord, please protect my other children”, the prayers were all worded the same, prayer after prayer and I couldn’t get my mind off the virus. It was only recently that I realised that God did indeed answer my prayers but I never truly thanked Him which made me think……

How many of us have asked God for things but then, do not thank Him? How do we thank Him for these small miracles?  Often, when we are troubled, many of us pray for help and in our distress, forget (not intentionally), all the good that he has blessed us with and continues to bless us with each and every day even during our darkest days.

The inspirational “Footprints in the sand” reminds us that we are never alone, during our darkest moments, God is indeed with us and carries our burdens, anger, grief, loneliness, and pain with us. We may be feeling these unwanted emotions, but He is carrying them with us. We do not see the everyday blessings as the negative feelings blind us.

I have looked at praying recently with the Sunday schools. Prayer is hard! Why do we pray? How do we pray?  Where do we pray? A child’s mind is true and innocent and they often teach me so much! I asked, “Why do we pray?” the answer was simple, “we are giving thanks to God our Father”. “How do we pray?” again, the best answer “Say thankyou and ask to help the world”. Then “Where do we pray?” the children looked at me as if I had asked a trick question “Anywhere, God can still hear you if you are in the park”.  I then asked, “What if you are having a bad time, how do you pray then?” One answer brought a stark reality back. “You pray the same! Thank God, Pray for the world. Ask Him to keep helping and do it anywhere. God is always with you and knows you are upset”.

It came to me instantly. Although I was praying I should have thought a little about it first, instead of my prayers being desperate personal pleas, it would have been better to remember first that God knew what was happening, he was already carrying me and sharing my troubles! I remembered Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

This experience has changed the way I pray, instead of praying in an unthoughtful way, I sit first and thank God for continually carrying me, I tell Him how much I love Him and then add my personal prayers for others. I will leave you with this from Matthew 6:31-34 ‘Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Clare Byfield

Children and Families Worker