Two Ways to Pray about the Coronavirus Crisis

Mar 15, 2020 was declared a National Day of Prayer for the Corona Virus Crisis. And

God wants us to pray. But instead of just asking God to preserve our lives and way of

life from this virus, we should be spending significant time and prayer on two topics that come from the question:

“Are we and God really on the same page?” or '“Is God leading us to change?” In times of crisis and decision, we quote II Chron. 7:14 “If my people.” Great verse. And we do want God to heal our sick and our land. But it’s as if we blind ourselves to a very important requirement to that promise: “If My people shall...turn from their wicked ways.” So we beg God to deliver us or give us a favorable election; and then if God doesn’t do what we wanted, we chalk it up to the “mysterious ways of God” rather than the fact that we did not change at all. So what does God want from us? The Promised Land was God’s destination for His people Israel. But they rejected that destination, because they didn’t want to do what it would take to inherit the kingdom He wanted them to have. If they had learned the lessons they were supposed to learn along the way— of trust, dependence, obedience, and holiness— then they would have been ready to obey and enter. But they were more concerned about surviving, getting through, and ending the difficulties than they were about learning about God and what He had for them. So, God doomed them to wander the wilderness where they had been before, now with a sense of futility and pointlessness. Today, God’s intended destination for us is His Kingdom come on Earth as it is in heaven. But when we reject the destination God has for us, we end up waiting out life without destiny, instead of living life with purpose. We like to think that we are in control of our own destinations, that we can have lives of our own choosing as long as they aren’t “too sinful.” And maybe, for a time, we can. But ultimately, God guides our destiny, and He will not leave us alone to be satisfied with lesser things than His Kingdom. When crises, change, or scary callings come our way, how do we respond? Do we cling to what we have at all costs? Are we just concerned about surviving and maintaining the status quo? Instead, we must realize that God may be trying to break through our preoccupations so that we will seek His Kingdom in a new way that we had not seen— or even wanted— before. So what are the two questions we needing to be praying about besides deliverance: #1 What do we need to change about ourselves? If we are honest with ourselves, we know that the Christian church (including ourselves) are not where we need to be. Here’s just some of the areas we know we fall short in: Sins of what we don’t do:

  • Not Sharing Jesus with the lost within our own communities

  • Not showing love and not being involved with our neighbors, coworkers, etc.

  • Replacing the Kingdom with the American Dream

  • Isolating ourselves from the real problems in our towns

  • Living self-serving, self-centered, and/or not willing to sacrifice personal comfort

Sins of what we do

  • Ignore or participate in abortion, sex trafficking, pornography

  • Indulge in obesity, laziness, and materialism

  • Divorce, hold prejudices and grudges, gossip

  • Tolerate corrupt government and business

  • Support godless educational systems

God’s healing can come when His people repent, so we can’t point the finger at those who don’t know Him yet. Let’s hold ourselves accountable for our own sins and that we do so little to stop evil from happening in our country. But if we know we are in such bad shape, why won’t we change? Like Israel, we often trust in our heritage and our weekend religious services to give us a free pass. But just like we shouldn’t wait until after we completely overload our hospitals before we address an outbreak, we shouldn’t wait until God brings harsh judgment before we finally take our own sins and the condition of the lost around us seriously. Can we force others to repent with us? No, but we can start with ourselves and with any who are willing to come seek His Kingdom with us. Which leads me to... #2 How should we use this crisis to spread His Kingdom? Whether we nervously stockpile toilet paper or deny a problem even exists, we humans cling to maintaining the life we have. Sometimes we even use God to justify keeping things as they are, claiming that we are remaining faithful to what God wants despite difficulties. But what if He’s changing the game plan? Can we let go and adapt? Can we embrace what He is trying to do in our lives now? Crises help us focus on what is truly important. And what’s important is not merely family or survival, it’s God’s Kingdom being realized on earth as it is in heaven. And maybe closing the Magic Kingdom and our church services for a while will change our perspective and help us see what realizing the Kingdom really means. When God allows pervasive trouble, He is often trying to shake things up and grow His Kingdom. He uses the crisis to cause His people to go a different direction they normally wouldn’t go. Remember how the persecution in Jerusalem caused the believers to....gasp...leave the centralized expression of the Church?! God was using the persecution to spread His Kingdom into other parts in the world. Here are some ways He may be challenging us to change: - Changing the way that we do ministry How can we use this crisis to empower us to bring His Kingdom into our local communities untouched by our church services and even Life Group gatherings? If we disciple more outside of the church walls and groups, then we can plant His Word into communities instead of just inviting them into our gatherings. This shift will then place the responsibility of discipleship back into the hands of all His people and not just the clergy. For instance, we can plant Discovery Bible Studies into families and communities by coaching them over zoom or the phone. - Changing the way we do church Is God trying to change the way we worship and equip Christians? Perhaps if we shift away from maintaining multi-million dollar buildings within every 7-10 minute radius, we can devote more of our money to helping and reaching people outside the church. What if we talk about growing in obedience to God’s Word more than just learning more about it? If we did, we would have to spend less time lecturing and more time having conversations about specific steps in changing and holding each other accountable to them. And maybe we could spend less time orchestrating worship experiences and spend more time discipling each other life-on-life and developing relationships with those that don’t know Jesus. If we want more authentic Christian community, it will take more relationship. We need to spend more time interacting with people, not just being around people at events. - Truly loving our neighbors How do those around us need our help? Let’s turn our inward focus to an outward focus. Some of us are more vulnerable to this crisis than others. Some don’t have a lot of extra finances, good health, or the ability to stay at home with children. We need to meet these kinds of needs around us. How can we develop relationships with people that don’t know Jesus in this environment? If outside activities are limited, maybe we should use technology like zoom and FaceTime to connect with people (especially lost ones) in ways we haven’t been willing to participate in before: online book clubs, online movie watching, online games, other online discussion groups, etc. No matter what we end up doing, let’s act wisely, pray, and open our minds. Invent, create, adapt, and embrace change. This is how we work with God to make all things work together for good. We can reach the lost, help those in need, stop injustice and corruption, love each other with extravagance, and empower communities to educate, express artistically, invent, and prosper economically in a way that pleases God and brings wholeness. And when we do, we can finally reach the destiny God has for us: His Kingdom come.

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