All throughout the Bible we see God calling us, as followers of Jesus, to not be afraid in difficult and trying times.
In the midst of a global pandemic this may seem harder than ever to do. For many of us there is more to fear now than ever before. Fear for our loved ones, fear for our futures, fear for our finances, and fears for our health, to name a few.
For the first time we may be realising that we are not as in control of our lives as we once thought we were. That we aren’t always able to diligently and meticulously plan every detail of our lives in such a way that we can be assured of the outcomes. In fact right now, we cannot even be certain of what the next few weeks or months of our lives might look like.
And yet despite these realities, God’s call for us to not be afraid still stands.
In Isaiah 41v10 God says: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.”
As the world around us reacts in fear to the crisis before them, we are given the incredible privilege of being able to put our faith and trust in a God who is with us, who strengthens us, who helps us and who holds on to us when the world gives way.
When we come to God in prayer, prioritising his presence in our lives, our faith grows and our fears diminish as we behold him. In prayer we are reminded of who our God is: a faithful, kind, good, trustworthy and loving Father who cares for us deeply. This is the God who is with us, who calls us out of fear to him.
Through prayer we demonstrate that our hope is in God, and not in our money or health, or our ability to control our lives. Scripture shows us that as we put our hope in him we are strengthened by him.
Isaiah 40v29-31: “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”.
Prayer itself is an act of faith and trust in God. It’s an acknowledgment of our great need for him, and of our dependence on him. In prayer we can come to him full of faith and ask for his help, because he has already declared that he will help us, and that he is an ever-present help in our time of need (Psalm 42v1).
PRAYER POINTS FOR THE WEEK:
The main purpose of prayer is relational. Prayer at its core is about communion with God, growing in our relationship with him, in knowing him, and in our intimacy with him as we enjoy his presence. One of the ways we can do this is through the practice of contemplative prayer.
To contemplate means to view or consider something or someone with continued attention, or to meditate on or think deeply about someone or something for a long time. In contemplative prayer we behold God and who he is, and we meditate on his great love for us.
In the midst of the chaos, confusion and uncertainty of our time, contemplative prayer creates a moment for us to quieten our hearts and minds, our fears and concerns, and to remember who God is and what he has done (Psalm 46v10: “Be still and know that I am God”).
As we spend time in his presence we are reminded that Jesus is with us, that he is mighty and powerful, a God of the impossible. We are reminded that he cares for us, that he knows our needs, that he sees us and that he loves us dearly. As we dwell on him, his love quietens our fears and builds up our faith in him.
So practically speaking, how do we practice contemplative prayer?
In Pete Greig’s book “How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People” he gives us the following steps to help us to do this:
- Before you begin in prayer it is helpful to take a moment to slow down and pause, to stop what you are doing and put distractions aside (for example cell phones), to focus on God and being fully present with him.
- Contemplation begins with meditation, which simply means fixing our thoughts on Jesus, reflecting on who he is and what he has done for us.
- It may be helpful to do this by meditating on a verse/s from the Bible.
- It is completely normal to find it a challenge to be fully present in this moment. Meditation requires effort and becomes easier with practice. When you find yourself becoming distracted, bring your thoughts back to focus again on Jesus and your piece of scripture.
- As we meditate on God, contemplating him, we become more aware of him. “Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace” – Matthew 6v6 The Message Version.
- As we become more aware of God, and his abundant grace and love for us, we experience intimacy with God and with that the life, joy and peace that is found in knowing him.
Prayers of Thanksgiving
As we remind ourselves of who God is, of his great love for us, and of what he has done for us (on the cross and in many other ways), our attention towards God will naturally lead us to worship and adore him for who he is, and to gratitude and praise for what he has done for us.
- We worship God for who he is: an altogether lovely, patient, kind, merciful, faithful, trustworthy, honourable, holy, just, strong, powerful and good God.
- We praise God, giving him thanks that through Jesus we can know him personally and intimately. That we can come into and enjoy his presence.
- We thank God for his incredible love for us. That he loved us so much that he would send his son Jesus to die for us so that we could be forgiven and reconciled back into relationship with him (John 3v16).
- We thank God that he is for us, that he cares deeply about us, and that despite the troubles we face in this world we ultimately have overwhelming victory in Jesus (Romans 8v31-37).
- We thank Jesus that because of him, nothing that we face in this world can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8v38-39).
- We praise and thank God that those who put their trust and faith in him will never be put to shame (Romans 10v10 and 1 Peter 2v6).
- We thank God that he is with us in the midst of this pandemic. That he does not leave us or abandon us in our time of need, but that he is a God who is near, who helps us, who strengthens us, and who holds on to us when the world gives way.
- We thank God that because of our relationship with him, we can find peace, joy and comfort in him during this pandemic.
Prayer for God’s Help and Strength
We come to God in faith to ask for his help and strength during this crisis, for both ourselves and others, knowing that he is a powerful God, and that when we partner with him in prayer circumstances and situations change.
- We pray that where we are afraid and are experiencing anxiety that God would quieten our fears with his love and that we would find peace and comfort in him.
- We pray that where we are experiencing doubts and a lack of faith in him, that he would strengthen us by reminding us of who he is, how much he loves us, and what he has done for us.
- We pray that he would help us to put our faith, hope and trust in him.
- We thank God for the beautiful gift of family and friends, and we ask him to protect those we love during this pandemic, especially those who are particularly vulnerable.
- We pray that God would comfort those around the world who are mourning the loss of the people they love due to the virus.
- We pray for the sick and for those who are suffering from this virus, that God would heal them.
- We pray for our medical health workers across the world. That where they are fearful and anxious for their health and safety that God would comfort them and bring them peace. That he would strengthen them for their everyday tasks as they sacrificially serve the world at this time.
- We pray for our world leaders in government, business and in the church that God would strengthen them for the days ahead and would give them Godly wisdom as they lead and make decisions.
- We pray that God would provide for those who are in need, the poor and people whose income has been affected by this pandemic. That God would meet people’s needs through those who are financially blessed, and that a culture of generosity would flourish at this time.
- We pray for the global economy, that it would be strengthened through the innovation and creativity of business leaders, presidents and world leaders, employers and employees.
- We pray that the church would be strengthened and encouraged during this time, despite not being able to meet together in the ways that we normally would.
- We pray that God would protect his church from Satan’s attempts to distract us away from God and to weaken our faith, love and devotion to him.
- We pray that the church’s response to Coronavirus would be full of faith and not fear. That we would turn to God in this time, putting our faith and trust in him.
- We pray that the church would rise up at this time to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed, and that many people would come to know God and put their faith in Jesus.
- We pray that the virus would be contained and that this pandemic would come to an end.
- We pray for answered prayers, miracles, supernatural intervention and help for different people and different needs all around the world.