Practice three: use scripture
‘The Bible is not an ordinary book. It is a word of power, it is a word of God, it heals our soul and our emotions. Our faith grows when we read the Bible,’ shares Seid. ‘Reading the Bible brings our heart close to God.
‘By looking at the heroes of faith in the Bible and those who brought us the gospel, we see that they have overcome multiple challenges and they continue to be role models and references to us.
‘As children of God and as the church, we are aware of the daily dangers involved in our work. Without faith and a firm conviction that Christ died and rose again, it is impossible to survive in such an environment. Our only recourse is the Lord Jesus Christ. As Psalms 20:7 declares: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”’
Paul Habou, from Tearfund’s Burkina Faso Team continues: ‘I am always keeping in my mind that I am not alone, as Jesus Christ promised to be with us every day until the end of the world.
‘In Burkina Faso, there are many attacks by armed groups and this is a really big security challenge for us. So, everyday, when moving from my home, I proclaim Psalm 91:1, which reads “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
‘And I believe that anywhere I will be going during the day, God’s guidance and protection will be with me.’
- Memorise Bible verses or write them somewhere you’ll see often – the lock screen of your phone, the fridge, your Bible...
- Repeat the scripture over situations that feel hard or difficult.
- Depending on how you’re feeling, you may want to pray after reciting the scripture.
Practice four: use the Holy Spirit as a guide
Another name that is given to the Holy Spirit is the advocate (John 14:26).
When we are tired, or unsure of what to say – when the situation feels too big – remember that ‘the spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans’ (Romans 8:26). Our prayers can take the form of silence, sobs or even shaking our fists and stamping our feet at the injustice in the world.
God listens. God understands. God cares.
- Think about a situation that is weighing heavily on your heart.
- Now, think about how it makes you feel.
- Welcome the Holy Spirit’s presence and ask the Holy Spirit to respond to this situation.
Practice five: poetry and reflection
‘The Bible brims with the poetic. Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, the Song of Solomon, Job and most of the Old Testament prophets are written either entirely or in part as poetry,’ shares Gideon Heugh, Tearfund writer.
When we’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, it can be even more important for us to focus and recentre ourselves. A poem can help us to do that.
‘You cannot rush when reading a poem; it forces you to slow down, to dwell, to be present,’ Gideon continues. ‘Because poetry so wonderfully and effectively focuses our attention, it can be a powerful medium through which we can pray.’
- Choose a poem – it could be a personal favourite or one that you haven't read before – that focuses on an issue that you think God might be placing on your heart. Once you have chosen your poem, say a brief and simple prayer inviting the Holy Spirit to speak to you through it.
- Read through the poem as many times as you like. Slowly. Out loud. Pause and take time to listen to God as you do this.
- Thank God for the poem and for what it has been telling you.
Here is a poem to try this out on:
The light that our ruin lets in
There is the falling. The breaking.
The tearing open. The pulled apart.
The head buried in the hands.
The fists pounding on the floor.
The shrieks and the sobs and the why
and the why
and the why.
This is the broken heart; the grief; the failure;
the betrayal; the disappointment; the loss;
the leaving the garden behind.
There is the waking up in the wilderness.
The long and trembling wait.
The glimpse of movement in the shadows.
The pale beginning. The unexpected expansion.
The deeper rivers discovered. The reality uncovered.
The truth rushing up. The love pouring in
and pouring in
and pouring in.
This is the dawn that darkness brings;
the light that our ruin lets in;
the gold filling the cracks in our shattered selves.
There is the realisation. The astonishment of grace.
The heart knows why it was made.
The renewed or newly discovered purpose.
The opening up. The reaching out.
The tentative steps forward growing bolder
This is the move from I to us, from me to we;
the fierce and tender hope
that only eyes that have wept can see;
the journey that is goodness, is a terrible beauty,
is the message that is written in the blood of God.
Poem is © Gideon Heugh, taken from ‘Rumours of Light’