Prayer in a Pandemic: Half One The change

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A global pandemic calls God's Church to pray. On Sunday March 15th there was a national day of prayer for the ongoing pandemic that we are currently facing in our nation. Given the uncertainty surrounding health, jobs, and the immediate future, many believers in communities and social media choose prayer rather than paranoia, prudence rather than panic.

As the spread of the coronavirus touches more lives, turns off more events, protects more people in their homes, and arouses more people for the fact that this is real, the churches have been asked to consider both the problems that corporate worship faces than also the best opportunities minister for the vulnerable. Indeed, this is a time to remember that prayer serves as an incessant and appropriate response from the faithful.

S.D. Gordon remarked, "You can do more than pray after you pray, but you can't do more than pray until you pray." We should listen to health professionals. We should practice recommended disinfection practices, social distancing, and quarantine when necessary. But as children of God, we practice all of these practices on the solid foundation of prayer.

In uncertain times, we remember that prayer is much more than a contemplative religious practice. God really hears our prayers! We are not the first to face such times. We can look for wisdom in the Church in Acts; They were subjected to intense persecution, starvation, and a litany of service problems that all hit their knees.

Prayer serves as a natural basis for the work of the Spirit in Acts. In the next four articles, I want to highlight the specifics of prayer that we see in Acts. The first thing you should see is that the Church was born in prayer. Acts 1:14 says, “All of them dedicated themselves to prayer with consent.” Following the Lord's instruction after his resurrection to his followers, these believers gathered for prayer. Before anything else happened, they prayed together.

Judas betrayed Jesus and died. What did the leaders do? You begin to pray wisdom for Judas' followers. And in his summary of the life of the Church in Acts 2, Luke said: "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching about fellowship, breaking bread and prayers." In fact, both Acts 3: 1 and Acts 16:16 show how daily prayer marked their routine. Our first recourse is prayer.

My wife Donna and I got married between our junior and senior years in college. We then felt the Lord calling us to found a church somewhere. We start praying about where and the Lord started to lead us to Buffalo, New York.

We moved there when Buffalo was the fastest shrinking city in America. You read that right. We moved there in the middle of the crack epidemic of the late 1980s and early 1990s. When we arrived there were drive-by shootings on our street. But we felt the Lord calling us there.

How did we know? We started to say, "Lord, what is your plan for our life?" I graduated from college. I started the seminar when I arrived in Buffalo, so I had to learn a lot. But we knew enough to know that prayer is important and we started to pray. I remember one pastor saying, "Don't go anywhere, don't do anything until you're sure that God called you to do it." We started to pray and said, "Lord, how would you make us safe?"

I visited Buffalo. Donna was working at the time and could not walk. I went and prayed and prayed at a particular intersection on Prospect Avenue where it intersects right in downtown Buffalo, New York. I, "Lord, do you have that in mind for us?" And the Lord guided us clearly and asked me to come to my heart: "Come and found my church." Not Ed's church, but Jesus' church.

We didn't have cell phones back then, so I got in the car and drove home.

We had been praying and fasting for over a week at that time and saying, "Lord, we can do nothing without the clarity that you give us. We look at what you did in the book of Acts. And we look for you. " Do it in our hearts today. "

I came back home and Donna immediately said, "I prayed. God wants us to go to Buffalo." And I said, "Yeah, God wants us to go to Buffalo." I called my father. We were from the other side of the state. I grew up on Long Island outside of New York City. My father said, "This is the worst city in the northeast." And it was tough. Someone outside the city had a sign that said, "Would the last worker in West New York turn off the lights, please?"

But God called us. He called us when we prayed.

We moved to a city in economic need in the age of postal steel and post-industrial manufacturing. But if you know that the Lord has made you do something, you will be obedient to what the Lord is doing for you. Just like in the early church in Acts, we went to the Lord in prayer. He gave us his direction. They went to the Lord in prayer two thousand years ago. They were then given God's instruction.

The decisions we make regarding the corona virus should be made to the best of our knowledge and belief. Ignoring facts is not a sign of belief. But we have hope beyond the immediate and dire circumstances we face. We remember that in the coming days and in the coming days, we will ultimately depend on him.

Prayer comes alive when we see the privilege and joy of coming before God to meet our needs. Just worship him and thank him. Confess our sin. To be reminded of our only mediator between God and man, Jesus. They could go to God the Father and sing and pray and praise, and the Church was born from these prayers.

We can approach God while maintaining social distance from others. Let us be wise and worship. Let us use the technology available to pray safely with others. Let us be servants and surrender. Let us praise and thank God as we love and serve others.

Ed Stetzer is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, dean at Wheaton College, and publishes resources for church leadership through the Mission Group. The Exchange team contributed to this article.

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