Due to Covid-19, many are Googling ‘prayer’ and seeking comfort. Here’s a simple way to respond. Posted on May 1, 2020May 1, 2020 by Michael Harvey When Google searches for ‘prayer’ skyrocket – as they have – you can be sure something is happening. And it is. Which calls for Christians to do more than sit on our hands and be thankful. This increase in prayer has been revealed by extensive research in 75 countries by the University of Copenhagen. And is one of many examples of a fresh openness to God from among those who have tended to politely ignore him. The good news is there’s a simple yet profound way each one of us can reach out to those becoming more open to considering God in the equation of life. That simple thing is ACORN – of which more in a moment. But first let’s be aware of how the mood is changing due to the impact of Covid-19. Eyes have been opened to the reality that – Life is not guaranteed. We are not masters of our own destiny. Life is fragile and death more real than we would wish. This has not only generated a mass of Google searches for ‘prayer’. Also – Politicians and celebrities have spoken more about ‘prayer’ during the past weeks than they have done in a lifetime. The rainbow has become a symbol of hope – appearing in thousands of windows and other public places. The NHS app for volunteers has been called GoodSam with a clear nod towards the Good Samaritan. The Queen has spoken of the reality of the resurrection of Jesus and the hope this offers for all. All this has led to many reaching out to a hither to ‘unknown God’ – seeking help, comfort and answers to questions they may have never had before. We must take this missional opportunity This all presents us with the opportunity to be ‘on mission’ by being active partners with God in this new situation. Doing so to touch lives and grow in faith ourselves. This is something I and others have been doing with encouraging outcomes over the past weeks – using a simple approach I call ACORN. It’s a spiritual practice for such a time as this. And a way to reach out when physical contact is not possible. It is something I’m encouraging you and your church to do also. ACORN is a mnemonic with each letter standing for a step in the process. You’ll find it all set out on this short video – How to Keep a Locked-down Church on Mission. Please watch it and share it as widely as you can. In essence, the following is what’s involved. This is what every church leader could encourage their members – young and old – to do each day during the lockdown. And please don’t miss that this is as much about helping Christians grow as disciples as it is about helping others come to faith. A is for Ask: Each day simply and prayerfully ask God ‘is there somebody I’m being nudged to connect with – to reach out to – today?’ C is for Call: This is God’s response to our question. His ‘call’ is for us to respond to the name that may come immediately or later by way of a sense that this is his nudge to us. O is for Obey: Our response may be through a phone call or any of the now well-recognised ways from Skype to Facetime to WhatsApp to SMS and more. The first step need be as simple as asking ‘How are you doing?’ and really listening to the answer. And all the while remembering this conversation is as the result of what God has prompted to happen and being open to offering prayer either with them or for them. R is for Report: Share with a Christian friend what God has done in this situation – even if it seems to be a very small step. Share what happened – much like the disciples reported back to Jesus when sent on mission. N is for Notice God: Reflect on what God has done in and through us. In the past we may have been too busy to listen to God’s voice and respond. But now, with God having our full attention, we may notice that God has used us and helped us grow in obedience and faith. There are two notable things about acorns. First, they need fertile soil to grow – and we now have this in our communities. Second, though an acorn is small and seemingly insignificant, it can grow into something big and beautiful – with patience and care. Michael Harvey What is your experience of seeing God prompt you and use you to engage with others in this time of lockdown? Please share it here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community Michael Harvey is a co-founder of Back to Church Sunday. He’s developed the concept of invitation as a mission tool across seventeen countries – helping churches adopt a culture of invitation.