3 Days of Prayer and Fasting (2020/03)

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Prayer During A Pandemic
James 5:16b-18
16 … The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
Unbelievers can treat disease, practice social distancing, and care for the needy (something that we all must do as those who are called to love our neighbors), but only Christians can fight the spiritual forces driving the fear, selfishness, and sinful pride that wreak havoc on our world. Prayer is a uniquely Christian task. “[O]ur struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12). “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” God has given us the means by which to move the hands that move the world. So let us fill these turbulent days with prayer. Join us for our Corporate Prayer Service on Wednesday nights from 7-8:30pm at 123 Willow Street, Cambridge (Please RSVP, since it is capped at 10 people, or join via Zoom). Join us for daily (except Sunday), noon prayer through Zoom, organized by Jon So and Jen Cook (you may also dial in +1 929 205 6099; Meeting ID: 491 292 511). Pray with your families. Pray in your Community Groups. Pray on your own.
1 Kings 8:37-40
37 If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence or blight or mildew or locust or caterpillar, if their enemy besieges them in the land at their gates, whatever plague, whatever sickness there is, 38 whatever prayer, whatever plea is made by any man or by all your people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart and stretching out his hands toward this house, 39 then hear in heaven your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways (for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind), 40 that they may fear you all the days that they live in the land that you gave to our fathers.
  • Pray that this pandemic would lead to repentance. Though COVID-19 is not necessarily divine judgment for all those who have been affected, it is a call for all to repent, knowing that eternal perishment awaits all those who die without repentance (cf. Luke 13:1-5).
  • Pray for the salvation of our families, friends, and neighbors, and for opportunities to share the gospel with them during the pandemic.
  • Pray for the healing of the sick and consolation and comfort of their families and friends.
  • Pray for strength and protection for all healthcare providers who are working day and night to keep our societies healthy.
  • Pray for strength and wisdom for all governing authorities (1 Tim. 2:1-2), that they might produce prompt and sensible policies to keep our societies functioning.
  • Pray for strength, humility, love, courage, and wisdom for the pastors and pastoral residents of our church as they lead us.
Psalm 91:1-16
1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
   will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
   my God, in whom I trust.”
3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
   and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his pinions,
   and under his wings you will find refuge;
   his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
   nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
   nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
   ten thousand at your right hand,
   but it will not come near you.
8 You will only look with your eyes
   and see the recompense of the wicked.
9 Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—
   the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
   no plague come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
   to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
   lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
   the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
   I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
   I will be with him in trouble;
   I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
   and show him my salvation.”
  • Pray that verses 1-2 would be the profession of our faith during this pandemic, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” Pray that, even as we conduct ourselves circumspectly, our ultimate trust would be in God and not in hand sanitizers, face masks, vaccines, or the Center for Disease Control.
  • Pray that we would “[hold] fast to [God] in love” (v. 14) and make that our primary preoccupation even during this pandemic.
  • Pray that God’s people would be prepared for, and have peace about, death, knowing fully well that “[man’s] days are determined, and the number of his months is with [God], and [God has] appointed his limits that he cannot pass” (Job 14:5), and that we would believe in the sovereign power of God who says in Ps. 91:16“With long I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Pray that, as people who have eternal life (1 John 1:1-4), we would be able to stare death in the face without fear (1 Cor. 15:54-57).
  • Verses 5-6 say, “You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.” The merism of “day and night” and “darkness and noonday” suggests that God watches over us and protects from all types of harm and at all times of the day. Pray that God’s people would fear neither terror nor pestilence.
  • Verse 7 says, “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” In a field of battle where casualties are heavy, even where ten thousand people are falling at your side, you will not fall, if God is protecting you. In the middle of a pandemic as the death rate climbs, even where thousands succumb to disease, you will not fall sick and die, if God is protecting you. If God has ordained to preserve you in health, you are no more in danger in the middle of Hubei or Milan than in cities completely unaffected by COVID-19.
  • Verse 13, “You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.” Lions and venomous snakes were well-known and widely-feared in the Ancient Near East, and they represent dangers that lurk in hidden places that one might encounter on a journey (much like viruses that lie hidden in the air and on surfaces). Unsurprisingly, lion (1 Pet. 5:8; 2 Tim. 4:17) and snake (Gen. 3; Rev. 12, 20) are sometimes used to represent Satan and his work. Jesus said to His disciples in Luke 10:19-20, “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Serpents and scorpions represent the poisonous “power of the enemy.” Far more deadly than COVID-19 is the poison of sin and the power of the serpent, pray that God would protect us from the enemy’s plans to sow fear, selfishness, pride, sinful judgment, distraction, and disunity among God’s people and in society at large. Pray instead for faith, selflessness, humility, love, unity, and a focus on God and on the spiritual realities.

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