Summary: How should Christians deal with the current pandemic at a spiritual level. Dr. Tow looks to the word of God for guidance and points to Daniel's prayer in chapter 9 as a model to follow.
We have received extensive instruction through the media for managing the coronavirus epidemic. What is needed in addition to that is how to deal with it on a spiritual level. In reality, the spiritual realm drives the material world, not visa versa. The instruction I am about to share is for Christians. There is only one instruction for the ungodly: turn from your sin to God, surrender your life to the LORD, and embrace Christ as your Savior. After Peter preached Christ on the Day of Pentecost, the people asked him what they should do. Peter’s answer was, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. . . .”1 If you’re not in right relationship with God, now is the time to turn to Him with all your heart. Ask God to forgive you of your sins and take over your life.
For the Christian, every crisis is a call to seek God. He is a very present help in time of trouble.2 I appreciate the efforts our government is making to lead us through this crisis. One reason the 1918 pandemic was so devastating was the lack of this kind of leadership. However, that is not our ultimate source of safety. “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses,” David said, “But we will remember the name of the Lord our God” (Ps.20:7). He is not saying we will not use chariots or horses. His focus is on what we are relying on in our hearts. If the government sends me a $ 1,000 check, I will receive it. But I am not relying on the government to take care of my basic needs. Our government is $ 23 trillion in debt. This crisis will add at least another trillion to that figure. They are actually making you sign a promissory note for $ 1,000 to give you $ 1,000. I think it’s a wise thing to do at this time. But we must see it for what it is. The government is very good at creating debt; it cannot create wealth. In contrast, God can create something out of nothing. He can speak galaxies into existence. He can turn water into wine. He can feed thousands with five loaves of bread and two small fishes, and do it without going into debt. If you need manna, He can rain it down from heaven. If you need water, He can bring it out of a rock. His resources are unlimited because He is infinite and omnipotent. Make sure you keep your eye on Him as you walk through this crisis. His eye is on the sparrow, and He is watching over you.3
How do we turn this epidemic around? Does the Bible teach us how to deal with it? Yes, we have abundant instruction in the word of God—the most reliable manual in any crisis. My focus this morning is on how to pray about it. For prayer to be effective we must do it God’s way. How should we pray at this time?
I. At the right time we PRAY AN AUTHORITATIVE PRAYER commanding the plague to cease.
There is an appropriate time to tell a mountain to be removed or a fig tree to dry up and die.4 It comes after we have gotten properly aligned with God. Otherwise, we are just "howling at the moon." Don’t begin with screaming at the virus. Begin with submitting yourself to God. Begin with confessing your sins. Begin with personal repentance and renewed consecration to God.
Last week we pointed out the application of 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 to our current crisis. Notice the setting in verse 13. In times of crisis, do this! "When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
There is no command here to rebuke the devil. The command is to get right with God. The command is to humble yourselves, pray, seek God, and turn from your wicked ways. The lack of that is what opened the door for the problem in the first place. If we opened the door by our wicked ways and neglect of relationship with God, then we close the door by turning from our wicked ways and seeking God.
The first step is submission to God. James 4:7: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Notice the order: submit to God, then resist the devil. That will produce results. Resisting or rebuking the devil when we have not submitted ourselves to God is not effective. The authority we can exercise in the spiritual realm is in direct proportion to the level of our submission to God. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19 NIV). In John 15:5 Jesus said something similar about you and me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” To operate out of a carnal mind, on our own initiative, is futile. Authoritative prayer flows out of abiding in the vine. It comes as we hear God in the Spirit, speak what He is saying, insist on what He is willing. Our prayer must always be an execution of His will. “Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).