“Pray then like this” (Matt 6:9)
In the midst of a world-wide pandemic, do you find it easier or harder to pray? I suspect “easier” in the sense that fear pushes us to pray more often and more fervently. I also suspect “harder” in light of the mounting number of deaths and the minor discomfort of self-quarantine. When I am not sure how to pray, I tend to follow the Lord’s Prayer and fill in the spaces between the lines (so to speak) with the specifics of my life.
Thank you, Father, that we are not alone, that we are part of your community, your family, adopted along with our brothers and sisters. Thank you that you are a father to us, not some dispassionate deity but the perfect Father who is concerned with the details of our lives, even details like finding toilet paper in the midst of a crisis. Unlike our earthly fathers, you are our “heavenly” Father, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who sits in heaven and does all that you please (Ps 115:3). It is to you that we pray.
In the midst of the Coronavirus, may our faith be strong and our actions resolute, not making you seem small in the eyes of our friends but displaying your holiness to all. May your name — your character — be preached even without words to our neighbors, friends, and co-workers. May we not act like those without hope (Eph 2:12).
You are king over our lives, and we live in your kingdom on earth. May this time of fear give us opportunities to share with others how we can be concerned but not fearful, and how they too can come into your family and under your kingship. Your family grows in difficult times; may it be so now.
We confess that we do not always do your will as we should. We do it imperfectly, slowly. Rather, may we be quick to listen and joyfully obey, knowing that someday we too will see the beginning from the end and that all of life will make sense. “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Cor 13:12).
As the lines in the store lengthen and the shelves empty, we acknowledge that you are the giver of every perfect gift (James 1:17). We ask you, our Father, to provide what we need as you do for the birds of the air (Matt 6:26). Do not let us be like those outside your family who put themselves first and hoard in fear. May we accept what we have and share what we can with others.
I confess that I have let fear creep into my life. Afraid of sickness. Afraid of death. Of fearing that I can’t be with my son and daughter-in-law at the birth of my first grandchild. But your perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18); help me to live as one who has hope. Help me to hold onto life as on to a thread, willing to let it go if it would advance your kingdom.
You made this world good, and we can see your goodness in everything we see. And yet our sin and Satan have corrupted so much of your world. Sickness, pain, and death are everywhere because we as a whole have abandoned your ways. Help us to see evil for what it is — a perversion of what you made — and please protect us from the effects of evil, and especially from the Evil One.
All things are yours. To you belong all power and glory. Until we see you face to face, may your Spirit strengthen us to be faithful children to the world around us, sharing hope and not despair, not living as those who are not your family live, but living as the prized possession of our Heavenly Father who protects us under his wings and will bring us safely to our eternal home. Until then, may we be found faithful (1 Cor 4:2).
“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Ps 19:14).