These past few weeks in Lockdown have brought along with them numerous challenges, changes and complications. Quite frankly it can be exhausting just thinking about them, never mind living through them. These uncertain and difficult times can weigh on us heavily causing knots in our stomachs and anxiety in our hearts. It turns out that living through a global pandemic brings with it a certain amount of stress and discomfort.
Psychologists and scientists have been studying stress and anxiety for years. It’s a well-known fact that some of the most stressful times in one’s life are caused by major life changes not to mention job pressure as well as relational, health and financial strain, which just also happen to be the prevalent side effects of the Coronavirus.
Change seems to be the only constant in this crisis which can be overwhelming, disorientating and stress inducing because generally speaking, us humans like to have our lives all figured out. These are not naturally the circumstances that we thrive in.
We like to have plans that we can stick to, goals that we can achieve, surety in our circumstances and control over our lives because they bring us comfort, but none of these seem to be realistically available to us in this time of unprecedented uncertainty. At this time, we aren’t able to plan our way back to normalcy or perhaps even to understand it and rally behind the purpose of it all. Our everyday routines and ways of living seem to be changed indefinitely for now, leaving us with more questions than we have answers for, and more confusion than clarity.
So, how do we find a peace, rest and comfort in this moment, that doesn’t rise and fall with the circumstances surrounding us?
By putting our trust in God.
True and lasting peace is never found in having control over one’s life, because we have never truly been in control in the first place.
We can’t find peace by carefully dissecting our lives and the situations we find ourselves in, until we get to a point where we can understand what is happening and the purpose behind it. Unfortunately some things cannot be understood, and purposes aren’t always revealed to us as and when we would like them to be.
Peace can’t be found in organizing and planning because as the famous saying goes even the “best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”.
Instead peace is found in putting our trust in the One who is constant (Psalm 102v27), who sees the full picture and whose understanding is unmatched (Isaiah 40v28). Who is never confused or surprised by the events of this world, but who is at work in our lives even in the chaos and remains sovereign over all (Romans 8v28).
We find rest in knowing that even in our darkest moments God has promised to never leave or forsake us. That our darkness isn’t dark to him, that he is our light in times of trouble (“He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with him” – Daniel 2v22).
We find real and lasting comfort in knowing that not only is God at hand (Philippians 4v4), but that he who created and rules all things holds us in the palm of his hands (Isaiah 41v13), and is mindful of us (Psalm 8v4), that he cares about us (1 Peter 5v7), that he has compassion for us (Isaiah 30v18).
Let us be comforted by the truth that the thing most valuable in life, his love and saving grace, cannot be taken away from us by the troubles of this world, because he has ultimately overcome this world (“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” – John 16v33).
As we come to God in prayer let’s remember that we come before a God who invites us into his presence to be comforted by him (2 Corinthians 1v3). Who understands and empathizes with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4v15), who keeps track of all our sorrows (Psalm 56v8), and heals and binds up our broken hearts (Psalm 147v3).
Let’s remember that peace and joy are found in his presence (Psalm 16v11), and that those who trust in him will find rest when they are weary, strength when they are weak (Isaiah 40v29). That those who put their trust in him will not be put to shame (Romans 10v11).
Praying Through Scripture
“It is grand praying when our mouth is full of God’s Word, for there is no word that
can prevail with him like his own” – Charles Spurgeon
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so
through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God” – 2 Corinthians 1:20
Praying God’s word and promises over our lives and situations is a powerful thing to do.
As we pray through scripture we grow in our faith and trust in God as we remember who he is, what he has done and of the many promises he has spoken over our lives in Jesus. Like a daily workout in the gym, which builds up our physical strength, so our faith and relationship with God also is built up as we meditate on and pray through God’s word. Strengthening and sustaining us in times of trials, when we find ourselves weary and discouraged. “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life” (Psalm 119:50).
In the Gospels we see that Jesus, himself in his darkest moments, prays to his Father reciting the psalms. While hanging on the cross in agony, Jesus cries out, recounting the words of Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22v1: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) and with his last breath Jesus cries out from Psalm 31, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Psalm 31v5: “Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God”).
Practical Tips for Praying Through Scripture:
The simplest place to start is by praying through the prayers found in the Bible, specifically the Psalms which is considered to be the prayer book of the Bible.
There are also various prayers throughout the New Testament through which we can pray through, namely: Ephesians 1:16-23; 3:14-19, Philippians 1:9-11, Colossians 1:9-14, 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 and Hebrews 13:20-21.
In Ben Patterson’s book “God’s Prayer Book”, he makes use of a helpful method for praying through scripture called “The Three R’s”:
Rejoice – What about a passage gives you reason to rejoice, to give thanks to God and to praise and worship him?
Repent – Is there something about this passage that reveals sin in my own life that should lead me to repentance? Where do I need to ask God for forgiveness?
Request – Does the passage lead me to make a request of God for myself or for others, to ask him for his help and new mercies?
For Example, Praying through Psalm 23:
Psalm 23v1-4: “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Rejoice – Thank you God that you are with me, that you are my protection, and that because of this I don’t need to be afraid. Thank you for being my comfort and peace in times of trouble. For refreshing my soul even in times of difficulty and pain.
Repent – Forgive me for where I have not put my trust in you, but have looked to other things for security, comfort and refreshing.
Request – Help me to remember that you are with me, that you will guide me through this season, and that you are the One who offers me true peace, refreshing and comfort in moments of uncertainty and fear.
Prayers of Intercession
“The business of your life is intercessory prayer. Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work” – Oswald Chambers
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” – 1 Timothy 2:1-27
Prayer for People Afflicted:
- We ask God to comfort those who find their lives torn apart by grief, loss, fear and trauma resulting from this pandemic.
- We pray for the sick, that God would heal them and that they would recover from this virus speedily.
- 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 particularly for those who are most vulnerable, that God would protect them from this virus.
- We pray for those who have lost loved ones, that God would comfort them and that they would know his love and compassion at this time.
- We pray for the poor and for those who have been impacted financially by the pandemic. That God would provide for them in this moment in various ways and that in doing so he would be glorified in and through people’s lives.
- We pray for people whose lives are in turmoil who do not know God, that they would be drawn to God in this moment and would place their hope and trust in him, depend on him and that they would begin to follow him.
- We pray that God would slow down the spread of the virus, and that the virus would be eradicated.
- We pray for answered prayers, miracles, supernatural intervention and help for different people and different needs all around the world.
Prayer for the Church and its Leaders:
- For church leaders: That God would give them insight and wisdom in their decision making as they lead their churches at this time.
- 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.
- That incredible creativity would come to life in the church as people consider news ways of being the church at this time.
- 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.
- That the Church would model and reveal the love of God to our Cities: Preaching the Gospel in word and deed, and finding ways to creatively serve, love and heal our Cities.
- That our relationship with Jesus would grow and flourish as we look to him.
- That the church would be an incredible example of God’s love to the world at this time. That each follower of Jesus would be ready to give a reason for their hope – 1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give a defence to everyone who asks you the reason for the hope that you have.”
- That God would give the church courage as they seek to bring Christ’s presence and hope in the midst of trauma and profound questions of pain.
Prayer for Those in Authority:
- For Presidents, Politicians and Decision Makers, who are carrying huge responsibility and making decisions with long-term, far-reaching impact to know what to do, and make the right choices.
- For world leaders under a great amount of pressure now, to not experience burnout in the weeks and months ahead, but to be refreshed, healed, comforted and strengthened by God as they serve at this time.
- For the Medical and Economic advisors of Presidents: That they would have amazing insight and wisdom in the recommendations they make to those in authority.
- For the World Health Organisation: That it would help governments worldwide fight the virus effectively by issuing wise and sound advice.
- For the Department of Health and the Doctors involved in setting Coronavirus policies and procedures: That they would develop the most effective policies and procedures to provide high levels of care to those at threat from the coronavirus, and for those who are sick.
- For Business Leaders: To put in place policies and procedures that help their countries respond well to this pandemic. That they would where possible, provide the resources needed to fight the virus and the economic impact the virus will have on the economy.
- We pray for creativity and ingenuity for Business Leaders in this struggling Global Economy, that new businesses and ideas would come into fruition and that God would be glorified as the economy recovers and flourishes.