We have a very active role in ushering in God’s hand and response to our cries about anything, including the Coronavirus. ◊
Several years ago, I was awakened by text message at 5:00 in the morning. I was 3,000 miles away on a business trip. My otherwise healthy wife was being admitted into the hospital with acute abdominal pains. She was scheduled for exploratory surgery that day and then major surgery the day after for the removal of an infected gall bladder.
I flew home that day to be bedside with her over the next 2 days doing what we all would and should do – comfort her and pray and have family and friends pray for her safe, successful surgery and recovery. My wife survived the ordeal and returned home from the hospital after a couple days.
We have all experienced these emergency events which seem to drive a natural human response to pray. There’s something very comforting about hearing that someone is praying for us and a scary situation. It’s particularly meaningful when we know that person is one who believes in the power of prayer. We know that often, outside of church circles, prayer is seen as a private or even embarrassing thing to talk about. Many don’t believe in it, don’t do it much, or if they do, they pray to hedge their bets.
And then along comes the Coronavirus.
Everyone Prays During a Pandemic
There’s a famous quotation of an unknown source from World War II that “There are no atheists in foxholes” highlighting that in times of extreme stress or fear, such as war, all people believe in God or a higher power. I suspect the same could be said about this global Coronavirus pandemic, but regarding the practice of prayer. While I suspect that atheists still abound, everyone is praying at some level. (Perhaps non-believers are at least thinking good thoughts!)
Of course, we have models for prayer in the Bible:
Here is Jesus’ Prayer: “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'” – Matthew 6:9-13
First, note that there is reverence and acknowledgment of God as Father operating in two dimensions, heaven and earth. There is also a petitioning for daily provisions and forgiveness for sins and protection from temptation and evil. There is also a recognition that we honor our fellow man and forgive others ourselves.
Here is Paul’s prayer guidance to the Christians in Ephesus: …ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. – Ephesians 1:15-19
Here we see the whole doctrine of the Trinity in one sentence that reveres and asks the God of the Lord Jesus for the gift of the Holy Spirit of wisdom and revelation in order to know Him better. There follows a request for discerning enlightenment to know the hope of His calling, and riches (not wealth, but an inheritance), and incomparable power available to us.
To shed further light on the practice of prayer and even in the context of God’s use of weather, pestilence, and plagues to get the attention of mankind, below is a direct quote from God in answer to King Solomon’s long prayer at the dedication of the initial beautiful Temple in Jerusalem:
God’s reply to Solomon’s prayer: “I have heard your prayer…When I shut up the heavens so that there is not rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.” – 2 Chronicles 7:13-14
The final sentence is a clear indication that God answers and listens here under the following conditions: the people humble themselves, pray, and turn from their wicked ways. Then, God will forgive their sin and heal their land – He will listen and attend to the prayers that are offered by a contrite and reformed people.
Misunderstandings about Prayer
We have a very active role in ushering in God’s hand and response to our cries about anything, including the Coronavirus. Prayers without faith or belief in God are mute. Prayer must come from a humbled and surrendered heart with a belief in the power, presence, and purpose of God. Prayer must also come from a repentant and sincere heart and soul. There is no correlation to religious ritual or religious behavior. It stems from a heart that believes and yearns for God’s hand, will, and ways. Anything less than this will be found wanting.
There is nothing more needed. Acknowledgment of fear is fair game. One does not need a class or coursework, books or a series of sermons. One merely can directly submit and petition God with their heartfelt desire for His will to be done in any situation.
If we can do that then we can be assured that our faithful and trustworthy God will hear our prayers. Though He may not answer them in accordance with our will, we should be alright, as long as we remain in His loving arms. A submissive heart in the hands of God can live with whatever the results and be comforted with the “peace of God which passes all understanding.”
Do you pray to God in full confidence?
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7