Jia You: How to “Add Oil” to Your Pandemic Prayer Life

Jia You: How to “Add Oil” to Your Pandemic Prayer Life May 6, 2020

In February, I came across a call to prayer and fasting written by pastors in Wuhan. I joined in prayer as I watched videos of residents there, confined to their high-rise apartments, flipping their light switches on and off and shouting jia you from their balconies.

I learned that phrase when I lived in China as a student and nonprofit worker. Jia you literally means “add oil.” Similar to give it some gas, let’s go, or rock on, it’s the Chinese way of expressing support and solidarity. In the midst of the Coronavirus crisis, it has been used to show gratitude for healthcare professionals and essential workers and to help lift the spirits of fellow citizens during isolation.

In a time like this, it comforts me to think that while I receive and relate to God individually, I also relate to God as a sharer in the strong bond of communal faith. The fellowship of believers is one way God shows his strength in our weakness. My faith has been fueled not only through interactions with believers I know personally, but also in my meditations on the Psalms and use of prayerbooks written by people in other places and eras.

Soon after the news out of Wuhan, social media brought us videos of Italian balcony serenades on accordions and tambourines as neighbors connected in creative ways during their isolation. Within a few weeks, our own closures and cancellations in the U.S. started rolling in. For the first time in our collective memory, the entire world was feeling the effects of the same struggle at once.

As Coronavirus red-zones expanded, I felt an urgency to create a resource to help believers pray through the needs in front of us. I contacted a few Redbud writers and others who had special insight into a particular area of struggle. Within a few days, twenty writers and ministry leaders tuned in with God and contributed thirty ways to pray in this historic moment.

Pandemic Prayerbook is a collection of written prayers providing…

  • words to speak over this crisis when you are stunned and don’t know what to say.
  • a healthy way to enter into our communal suffering and connect with God.
  • a stay-at-home way to support the many different types of people who are affected by this crisis.
  • something to recenter you and bring peace when you’re over-saturated with the daily news or yet another Zoom call.
  • a memento of God’s work in your heart in this unique time.

Whether you’re serving as a front-line or essential worker or doing your part at home, we hope this collection gives you a new way to jia you, add oil to your prayer life and help in our collective struggle. We can “carry one another’s burdens and in this way fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). In our prayers for healthcare providers, essential workers, businesses, teachers and parents of e-learners, those grieving canceled events, those dealing with anti-Asian racism, and more, we are asking God to change the trajectory of the virus and to change us. I hope you’ll join us, and that these prayers will cover as much ground as the red-zones that have spread over cities and nations.

About Darcy Wiley
Darcy Wiley is co-writer of The Yes Effect: Accepting God’s Invitation to Transform the World Around You. She writes about spiritual, emotional, and cultural health and helps people tune in with God to experience power, love, and a sound mind. You can read more about the author here.

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