When I was in Seminary, I was bit by the charismatic bug and was attracted to a prayer movement that came about in 1999 called 24-7prayer.com. In entering ministry, I began with that still being an aspect of my regular life, but, as can happen in ministry, other worries began to overtake me and other aspects began to take precedent. Now don't get me wrong, I still prayed, but not as often and not as deeply as I once had. There were moments that I were filled with fervent prayer in these times, but not as often as I had hoped.
It's funny how life can become so full, that sometimes the hours that would once be spent in prayer become fewer and fewer. Visits, meetings, reports, sermons, family obligations, etc. all seem to fill the time and the prayers become quick morning prayers, meal prayers, prayers with people in times of need, prayers at meetings or events, evening/bedtime prayers, and prayers during worship services. The reality is that though all together these, though may come up to a chunk of time when put together, how little they truly add up to when thinking how they often lack the depth and cry to God as well as the praises to God that can be shared.
I write this in the midst of prayer because my heart feels driven to write these words. I am filled with a strong sense of prayer as I look to thinking of my children. I look to my oldest, who is now entering those difficult tween years and sooner than I am prepared for will become that teen. It is surprising how quickly the time ebbs and flows and my hope and prayers for him and each of my children. My next child, my creative young boy soon coming to the double digits and how his heart is so soft and sometimes easily wounded. His creative spirit that I pray the world will not crush as he is bombarded with those that try to label in ways that are not defining him in the image of the young man whose heart seeks after God's own heart because of the softness of his heart and spirit. My beautiful third child, a young and vibrant young girl, shy and awkward but with such a heart. I think of my fourth child, a fun little boy with a playful (though sometimes annoying in his clowning) spirit that truly is a loving young boy that seeks the approval of me as a father and of others that he sees as his people and I think of some of the harsh judgments that have been placed against him. I think of sweet, little, spunky fifth child, such a little doll she is and her coy playfulness. Then I think of my sixth and last born boy, a fearless toddler growing into his boyhood. The fearlessness in this young boy is scary as a father, but I know that it will serve him well as he grows older and I seek as a father to protect him and all my children. I desire to protect them all from the harshness of this world, this age.
Then we have this new threat, this Covid-19, that is ravaging our globe and placing such fear and panic in our world. I fear for all those that do not know Jesus Christ and have sought after all those false gods that fill up our lives. Who needs church? Well, as the Church we have often have had little to offer so many as we are caught up in the world's issues and forget to look to the Word. That is where all the promises lie.
With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him. When my spirit faints within me, you know my way! In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me. Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul. I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me! Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name! The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.” Psalm 142 (ESV)
My the Word fill us and His promises guide us as we navigate these new waters. My prayer is that as we face this virus and come out the other side my prayer is that we, as followers of Christ and those that currently are not, will come out as better people. The Lord has already shown how quickly He can heal his creation from our sin that has so long damaged it as the birds can be heard singing in China that was once filled with dirty air and noise pollution, isn't it amazing that we are in an age where the air clearing could be seen from space?!? To read about how the canals in Venice are clear and clean and the dolphins and swans were swimming in the waters is another sign of God's miraculous design. Now let us be aware as we can watch as God heals the spirits of those that have been driven by fear and panic and let's them see how little control that they have so their hearts are humbled and turn to one true Creator of Heaven and Earth. Lord, bind this disease and let your name be praise.