In March of this year, our world changed. Due to coronavirus, work, school, church, and many other parts of our lives either stopped happening or were drastically altered. When this happened, our prayers reflected these changes.
We prayed for medicines and a vaccine to combat the virus, for wisdom to make decisions and navigate new schedules, for financial provision during an economic downturn, and for a quick return to normal life. These were, and still are, the right prayers to pray. Keep praying them.
But, the Lord has chosen to work another way. This pandemic continues. What we initially hoped would be nothing more than a short disruption now appears to be a year-long (or longer) altered way of doing life.
So, how do we pray now?
One of the main factors determining how we pray is our understanding of God and the nature of his work. If we think this pandemic caught God off guard, then we need to start praying to wake him up. If we believe God only works when things are going well, then we need to ask him to get things back to normal so we can once again walk in fellowship with him.
But we know God is neither surprised by events nor limited to certain times and circumstances to fulfill his purposes. God is sovereign, gracious, and always working to accomplish his will. With this understanding of God and the conviction that it builds in us, we can pray in new ways in this strange season of life.
We can add to our prayers another layer of requests in light of the long-term nature of this pandemic and the eternal purposes of God for his kingdom and our lives. We can pray for God to work in the pandemic to advance the gospel in the world, to turn masses of people to Christ in repentance and faith, and to see the church increase and strengthened around the world.
We can pray for God to work in us while we are in this season. Romans 5:4 tells us that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. Our prayer is that on the other side of this pandemic we will have matured in hope through the process of suffering in faith.
We can pray for Christ’s glory and for people to be helped. These things are not mutually exclusive.
How do your prayers need to change now that we have come to terms with the fact that this disruption to our lives will likely be here for a while? How can prayer be part of God’s long-term work in you and in the world, as well as for the short-term needs of a crisis? Think on these things.
We believe in God and in his power to accomplish his will in all times and seasons. Now is no exception. Let our prayers reflect our faith.
I look forward to praying with you on Sunday.