Summary: In these uncertain times it is important that Christians begin praying with a purpose. This is my first "remote" message to my congregation in light of not being able to worship together because of COVID-19.
Praying With Purpose
As you know, I have been doing a series on the word “IF” and how it is used in Scripture to show some of the conditions that we must meet as we walk in fellowship with God. I will continue this series next week, but this morning I want to talk to you about praying with purpose. We are witnessing and experiencing a time in our world that has not existed in my lifetime. The outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has raised alarms around the world and this pandemic must be taken seriously. In my thirty years of being in medical sales, I have never experienced a time when a pharmaceutical company pulled all of its sales representatives out of the field for an extended period of time and yet that is what we have done. Restaurants are closed. Theaters are closed. Stores are closing or reducing hours of operation. Professional and collegiate sporting events have been cancelled. We are being asked to distance ourselves socially from others – something that is very hard to do but yet must be done. Some people are panicking and buying items from stores because they too have never experienced anything like this. People are scared and while that might not be me or you, we need to understand that the fear for some is very real.
But don’t lose hope as you read the news or watch it on TV. When you look back in history you will find that there have been other pandemics and yet we have survived. Please here me New Light. We survived them! The HIV/AIDs pandemic has killed over 36 million people since 1981. While there are still millions living today who are infected the world has learned how to deal with it, and we are still learning and developing treatments almost 40 years later. The flu pandemic of 1918 killed between 20-50 million people between 1918 and 1920. What was interesting about that flu pandemic was the people who died were not the elderly with weakened immune systems or children, but young adults. The elderly and children were mostly spared. Why am I sharing this with you this morning? Why am I stressing the need for us to take this time to focus on praying?
I am sharing this with you because, right now, we do not know where this pandemic is going, but our Father does. Right now we do not know everyone who has been infected, but our Father does. Right now we do not know how long we will be practicing social distancing, but our Father does. In this midst of this, He is God. But more important, New Light, He is our Father and the Bible says He will never leave us or forsake us. Right now, that should give us some level of peace, some level of comfort. So it makes sense to me that if I have concerns, or question or fears that I would want to go to my Father because He alone has the answers I need. He has the answers we need. We can watch the news and take in the data from the experts and do what they are telling us to do, but only our Father can settle that internal fear and panic that might be building up inside of us because we don’t know how long we will have to distance ourselves socially from those we generally congregate with throughout the week. This means we must adjust, for the time being, to a new normal. New Light, my new normal adjustment will include more time with my Father. What about you? I am going to suggest something to you: let this current situation be the spark that reignites a burning red heart flame in you to spend more time in prayer with your Father in a more focused way. I truly believe that if we will do this, both through reading His word and by talking with Him, it will change how we currently think about this situation and it will change the life that we live after it has passed. I believe we will go through this with more faith, power and clarity of mind than ever before. New Light I hope you will join me.
So what does it mean to pray with purpose? Many years ago Nikki and I were at home visiting the Church she grew up in. The pastor of the Church asked me to bless the offering. I went to the pulpit and prayed over the offering and sat down. Afterwards he leaned over to me and said something to the tune of, “Thanks for doing it right and only blessing the offering.” At first I did not understand fully what he was saying but then I began listening to the prayers that were being prayed over the offering during other services. People prayed for everything – the world, sickness, blessings from the past week and for the upcoming week, and eventually over the offering itself. From that experience I realized that sometimes we do not pray with a purpose even when we are praying in Church. Praying with a purpose really means being intentional about your prayer time; praying specifically for that situation that is most on your mind; and then stopping and patiently waiting to see what God tells you. Remember, personal prayer is a two way conversation. Purposeful prayer is not only about the subject matter, but also about the “when.” And let me add this: personal prayer is also us agreeing with what the Bible says. Let me give you an example. Psalm 91:9-10 says “For you have made the LORD, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place. No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent.”