How to pray for self, for others, for an end, for God’s will, for peace and acceptance of God’s purpose in suffering and trouble, acknowledging that his wrath is just, but his mercy is sure and his promises do not fail.
At this very moment, plagues almost biblical in their magnitude and terror for humankind confront us. Famine looms in Africa and Asia as locusts swarm in astronomical numbers, devouring whole crops before our very eyes. There are wars and rumors of wars.
A dreadful disease threatens millions with illness and ancillary hardships; cities quarantined, schools closed, travel curtailed or prohibited, markets disrupted, production suspended, medical facilities overwhelmed and unburied dead lying neglected for fear of contamination.
Furthermore, every evil devised by the devil seems to be bearing down on us. We are under relentless assault politically, economically, and socially. It is a spiritual assault by the powers of darkness. Our faith is being challenged. Is there anything we can do?
If by that you mean––anything we can do to save ourselves, I think not, but that is not our business anyway. That is God’s own purpose. He will take care of us as He always has. We are His treasured possession, and nothing at all can separate us from His love. Renew your hope, and do not lose heart.
During the black plague of 1630, Cardinal Federico Borromeo counseled his flock to “Be prepared to abandon this mortal life. Go toward the plague with love, like a prize if a soul can be saved for Jesus Christ. Stand fast and be faithful so that others might be comforted in their affliction. Provide solace to the church and in the church. Offer spiritual direction to others wondering how to confront crisis.” (The Betrothed, 1827, Alessandro Manzoni).
We may be the spiritual presence for others who are caught in the fearful agony of despair, not knowing what might happen to them. They need us, and God has prepared us to help them.
Let us pray for those who are sick and those who are afraid––that they may turn to Jesus for hope and a home in the kingdom of heaven. Does that sound trite to you? Try this; pray confidently with someone that you know is afraid. Let them know you have the assurance of your faith. You may be surprised by the impact of your faith. It isn’t the preaching or overt bible study that you’re offering now. It’s the shared hope of believers who have the confident assurance of eternal life.
You will meet people with all sorts of earthly concerns and commitments. Help them to understand that their death will certainly leave those matters in others’ hands. There is little you can do to save your stuff when the plague strikes you.
In hard times it often has been our highest mission to comfort others. Let us pray with them and for them. Many do not know how to pray, and they won’t have time to learn if they get sick. Pray for them.
You are a peculiar people, a holy priesthood, prepared by God to be His ministers to a lost world.
Thy kingdom come, Lord! Amen
Exodus 19:5-6; 1 Peter 2:9; Psalm 135:4