Social distancing provides the provision of prayer
This morning I was thinking of the importance of prayer during this outbreak of corona-virus. We may not be able to get together with each other, but we can pray.
We can pray for our community, national and local leaders, church leadership, families, the elderly, parents who are struggling financially because they can’t work from home, parents with school age children who are now at home, loved ones whom we cannot travel to see; pray for those living in nursing homes, sick in hospitals, nurses, doctors and those incarcerated. PRAY!
The list is endless of who we can pray for.
Nearly daily I receive a message from a young teen who updates me on how the corona-virus has spread across the Philippines. I hear a sense of panic, mystery and wonder in his words. As he daily sits with his family in quarantine. I am sure he is wondering if this will hit those closest to him.
Let us pray for under privileged countries whose homeless line their streets in tents. They don’t even have the money to eat, let alone buy an abundant supply of toilet paper or the luxury of hand sanitizer. Restaurants are closed, and the food they pilfer, from their once abundant dumpsters are now empty, depleted.
Let’s pray for one another. Not just that we will not contact the corona-virus, but that we will not give way to fear. Fear paralyzes. Fear causes panic and frenzy. Fear makes us greedy takers and not lavish givers.
Let’s pray that our lives will extend in love the way Christ did during his ministry here on earth. I am asking God to show me what this should look like at a time like this; but as I wait for clear direction I know that I can commit to pray.
In Luke 18:1 Jesus tells his disciples a story to show them that they should always pray and not lose heart, to never give up believing that God can do the impossible. May the antidote for each of us during the spread of this virus be to pray, so that we too will not lose heart.
If you struggle to know how to pray, the Bible is filled with prayers that you can read meditatively back to God. The Apostle Paul’s prayer in the book of Philippines encourages us to pray that we will grow abundantly in love. During a time of pandemic may we turn to God so that we can understand what really matters. May the love that Christ pours into us overflow on those who are filled with fear, desperation and discouragement.
“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.” Philippians 1:9-11
Discouragement to hope
The prayer in Psalms 42 verses 1 and 5 causes our hearts to turn from desperation and cry out with hope and praise to God. It encourages us to turn our eyes from fear and receive the hope that God so freely provides.
“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:1,5.
Comfort of protection
In Psalm 3:1-7 a our hearts cry out to God for deliverance. We find comfort knowing that God is a shield around us. He is our glory and the One who will lift our head from the consumption of fear around us. This allows us to sleep each night in peace because God sustains us.
“Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side. Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God!” Psalm 3:1-7 a
Refuge and strength
In Psalm 91 we see that God is indeed our refuge in these troubled times full of unknowns. He is our intimate, tender protector. “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” I encourage you to pray through this Psalm in its entirety.
As you pray, I believe that lifting your concerns to God will calm your anxious heart and fill you with a sense that God is ultimately in control. I believe that you will find prayer to become an peaceful antidote for for a good nights sleep. Prayer will also place a covering over your heart so that you will be less apt to give-way to fear in the day light hours.
He is here. He is present. He is enough. He is our refuge and strength.
Rest in this truth!
During this time of prayer, may we take the time to lift our hearts to God in contemplative confession. Ask yourself; Where have I let the frenzy of this outbreak cause fear in me, greed, pulled me away from knowing that God is all I need, become wrapped up in the media’s sway, gotten angry at a loved one, feared the loss of finances, given way to so many “what-if’s” that my eyes have lifted away from God?
In praying for those around us, may we also take the time to cry out to God to cleanse our own hearts.
A cleansed heart will be a listening heart.
LINDA JANE DINGELDEIN: DIFFERENT BY DESIGN
In this we will hear the next step God is asking of us. In this we will minister well to our families and loved ones. In this we will respond wisely to a need around us. In this cleansing we will be filled with joy which will dissipate our fear.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:1-12
As we lift our hearts to God in prayer – prayers for the nations, our families, our local communities and ourselves; may we also lift our voices to exalt the One who guards, protects, keeps and leads us. Pray with me Psalm 145 as together we exalt the greatness of God who is most worthy of our praise.
Exaltation of God’s greatness
I will exalt you, my God the King; will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty — and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works — and I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.
The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. Psalm 145: 1-16
“Don’t give way to fear. Pray!”
The Bible is full of verses that we can pray. Here are a few for you to consider. The nation may call us to observe social distancing, or for some, you are in strict quarantine; but I encourage each of us to use this time as a provisional gift to pray for one another.
God, these are troubled times. Help me not to give way to fear. It is my desire to put my hope in you, Lord. The Maker, Sustainer of heaven and earth. For you, O Lord, are a shield around me, my glory and the One who can lift my head away from the panic, frenzy and fear around me. Show me how to use this time wisely, for your glory.
God, thank you that you are my refuge and my fortress. God, I place my trust in you. I ask you to calm the places in my heart that have given way to anxiety. Provide for all that I need and open my eyes to the needs of others. Give to me clear direction in how you desire for me to sacrificially reach out and help those in need around me. As you provide the opportunity, may I give a word of encouragement to those who are in distress.
God, help me to pull away from the media so that I can meditate upon your Word. Your Word is truth, and as I rest in truth I will have peace.
You are a good-good God. I praise you today for you are gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. Lord God, You are my Shepherd. You will provide all that I need.
In Jesus Name. AMEN
(Scripture prayers: Ephesians 1:17-19 a; Ephesians 3:16-19; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9 b-12; Psalm 139; Psalm 23; Psalm 42:1,5; Psalm 63; Psalm 91; Psalm 139)