First of all, I encourage you to make petitions, prayers, intercessions, and prayers of thanks for all people, 2 for rulers, and for everyone who has authority over us. Pray for these people so that we can have a quiet and peaceful life always lived in a godly and reverent way. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior. 4 He wants all people to be saved and to learn the truth. 5 There is one God. There is also one mediator between God and humans—a human, Christ Jesus. 6 He sacrificed himself for all people to free them from their sins.
This message is valid for every era.
– 1 Timothy 2:1-6
I love to call people to prayer. Prayer is an exercise of humility. When we pray we are not ordering God to act. We are admitting we need help. We are acknowledging God’s reign and rule over all things. If we’re not doing those things we may be wishing, but we’re not praying.
Prayer is an exercise of faith. We pray because we have been brought to a conviction about God’s power, authority, rule and reign. But more than that, God’s faithfulness to his promises, his love for his people, and his goodness toward those who call on him. If we pray without faith we may be hoping, but without faith it is not only impossible to please God (cf. Hebrews 11:6), we’re also not praying. God never promises to answer a faithless prayer.
Prayer is an exercise in love. When we pray for others we are expressing our love for them to God. Jesus commands his disciples to love one another. When we pray we are expressing – if only in one way – our love for God (obedience to God’s command and invitation), and our love for our neighbor. Without love even our most eloquent prayers amount to nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
Prayer is an exercise of hope. When we yearn for something better we might call it hope. But there is far more to hope than yearning for something. We can call it a desire. We might describe it as a longing or even a deep yearning.
Hope is a loaded biblical term. It is tied to the faithfulness, justice, love, and promises of God. It is tied to the resurrection of Jesus and the hope of the life of the world to come. And in connection with the resurrection, we see most fully what hopeful prayer is all about. When we pray, we are hoping for a foretaste of the perfect healing, life, peace, joy, and favor that we will experience in the life of the world to come. Hope is grounded in Jesus’ resurrection and takes wings in our prayers to God.
I like to call people to prayer. But I love even more to call people to pray – actually to pray. So let us pray…
Heavenly Father, we turn, not panic, in response to this pandemic. We praise You as our Almighty Creator and sustainer. You are the Author of our days, our refuge and strength.
For those who have lost family and friends from this virus, please comfort them and for those who are currently sick, we implore You to heal them.
Deliver us from this disease, we pray, and let your glory fill the earth as you respond to our prayers.
In Jesus’ Name, amen.