I know that as a Christian I’m meant to bring everything before God in prayer, but I just don’t know what I’m meant to pray for in light of COVID-19 - please help!
From a speechless Christian
Dear speechless Christian,
You are right in noting that we are encouraged to pray about all things, and yet you are also not alone in struggling to find the words, particularly in times such as these that we find ourselves in now.
First off, it can be helpful when we struggle to pray to remember why we pray. We pray because of who God is. God is gracious, righteous, full of compassion (Psalm 116:5), he is relational — calling us into relationship with Him through Jesus our Lord and Saviour (Romans 8:29-30), God is faithful and does not change (2 Timothy 2:13), he is righteous, holy and just (Deuteronomy 32:4) and God is sovereign (Colossians 1:16-17).
Because we know God and his character we pray to Him. We pray because as creator and sustainer of all things He has the power and authority to act. We pray because He listens to our prayers. We pray because we can trust that He is good and faithful. We pray because He holds the past, present and future in his hands. We pray because we are utterly dependent on Him, we do not know what lies ahead, we do not have the power or authority to change these things, and we are not perfectly just or righteous, therefore we pray to acknowledge our dependence on Him and to ask Him to help us align ourselves with Him and His plans.
Secondly, when words fail us one of the most helpful things we can do is to turn to the Bible. The Bible is full of the prayers of others, and we can use the scriptures to shape our own prayers.
The apostle Paul shares much of what he prays for in his various New Testament letters — we can draw on what Paul prayed for as a guide to help us pray in light of COVID-19. Here are some ideas from Paul:
1. Pray for those in authority
‘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 2:1-2)
Pray that our leaders both nationally & locally, and within our churches will have wisdom in how to act and respond to this situation.
2. Thanking God for fellow Christians
‘I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 1:3–6)
Thank God for the Christians around you. Paul was often separated from his friends and those in the churches that he planted and yet he never stopped being thankful for his brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank God for those he has placed in your life even when separated by social distancing.
3. For spiritual growth
‘For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.’ (Colossians 1:9-14)
Pray that you and the other Christians that you know will grow in godliness. Pray that God will be using COVID-19 to grow your and their dependence on Him. Pray for opportunities to share the Gospel with others. Pray that social distancing will not enable apathy to grow amidst Christians but that opportunities will be sought out to continue to deepen faith, and knowledge and love of God.
4. To be full of the hope of Christ
‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’ (Romans 15:13)
Pray that you and other Christians will have an eternal mindset, that the hope we have in Christ will be at the forefront of your mind and that through that God will grant His peace to you. Pray that this hope will fuel opportunities to share with those who do not yet know the wonderful grace and peace found in Jesus.
5. For opportunities to be together in person
‘Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith. Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you.’ (1 Thessalonians 3:10-11)
Pray that this crisis will end swiftly and that you may be able to gather in person once again in fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ.
My dear brother/sister in Christ, it is easy to feel alone and powerless in times like this, bring your worries before God knowing that He is sovereign and holds all things in His hands. Trust in His goodness and in the eternal hope we have in our Lord Jesus Christ. Remember also that even when words fail us, God knows what is in our heart and in our minds, and He will never fail us.
Keep pressing on.
Grace & Peace,