PRAYING FROM A DISTANCE
While being in chains for the gospel or on long missionary journeys, the apostle Paul modeled intentional prayer for other believers while at a distance from them. Though Paul was separated from believers for different reasons than the COVID-19 “shelter in place” orders or self-isolation, he still leaves us an example. When we are apart from our brothers and sisters in Christ, they need not be far from our hearts and minds in prayer.
Having care and concern for the physical health of other believers has biblical precedent: “Believer, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” (3 John 1:2). We can pray for stamina, strength in immune system, healing, and wellness for each other.
As we do, we can also pray for each other’s souls. Paul’s letters can be surveyed to glean ideas for how to pray for one another from afar.
“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:4-8).
Offer thanks for your brothers and sisters in Christ—for the knowledge of God present in their minds and hearts. Pray they would be assured that God would sustain them to the end, and that His sacrifice has made them guiltless before the Father. Thank God for the faith evident in your brothers and sisters.
In Christ's love and care, Pastor Louie
Praying from a Distance
2 Corinthians 1: 3-4
Ask God for comfort for your brothers and sisters - and for fitting ministry opportunities.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4
Praise our Lord who comforts the spirits of His people. Following that, pray specifically that your brothers and sisters would be comforted in their time of hardship. Ask that they might see ways to comfort others as well, out of the abundance they have received in Christ. Ask that neither focus would dominate—that they would not become focused on receiving comfort to the exclusion of giving it, and that they would not become focused on ministering to others such that they do not receive the comfort from God they need.
Praying from a Distance
Pray for the gospel to remain central in your brothers’ and sisters’ thoughts and lives.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (Galatians 1:2-5).
Pray they would remember the gospel—that the message of Christ, who gave Himself for us, would remain the focused and clear motivation for daily living. Pray that no legalism or lawlessness would creep into their hearts to distort the gospel. And pray that they would be strong against temptations. Ask that they would remain focused on giving God glory for the good that is in their lives while in their homes and with their families.
GOOD FRIDAY PRAYER
Good Friday Prayer
Lord God, Jesus cried out to you on the cross, “Why have you forsaken me?” You seemed so far from his cry and from his distress. Those who stood at the foot of the cross wondered where you were, as they saw Jesus mocked and shamed and killed. Where were you then? Lord God, we, too, ask where you are, when there is trouble and suffering and death, and we cry out to you for help. Be near to us and save us so that we may praise you for your deliverance. Lord God, we wait, on Friday, for the resurrection of Sunday and sometimes our lives seem a succession of Fridays and we cannot see what is “Good.” Teach us to call your name as Jesus did. Make us to trust in you like little children. With deepest gratitude from our hearts, Lord, we remember today Jesus' words "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20) In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Matthew 28 Easter Prayer
• “Do not be afraid," (verse 5) - God, I hand over to You those things that make me so afraid. Resurrect the parts of my faith squelched by fear.
• "I know that you are looking for Jesus," (verse 5)- God, when my soul is searching, help me know the answer to every longing can be found in You.
• "He has risen,"(verse 6) - God, the fact that Jesus is risen should lift my head, my heart and my attitude. Help me to live today as if I really believe this with every part of my life.
• "just as he said, (verse 6)" - Jesus, You keep Your promises. Help me live as though I believe that with every part of me. Help me trust You more, obey You more and resemble You more.
• "Come and see,"(verse 6) - Jesus, You had the angels invite the women in to see for themselves that You had risen. You invite me into these personal revelations every day. Forgive me for sometimes rushing about and forgetting to come and see for myself ... You, Your Word, Your insights.
• "Then go quickly and tell his disciples,"(verse 7) - Jesus, I don't want to be a secret keeper with my faith. I want to be a bold and gracious truth proclaimer - For You. With You. Because of You. Me, the unwanted person whom You loved, redeemed and wanted. In Jesus name, Amen
Praying from a Distance
Ephesians 1:16, 21 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4
Ask God to deepen the faith and understanding that your brothers and sisters have of the gospel—that they would strive for more truth of Christ in their lives through knowledge, discernment, and insight.
“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you . . . and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe . . . far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named” (Ephesians 1:16, 21).
“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore, we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the affliction that you are enduring” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4).
Pray for believers to rest in the Spirit, who opens the heart and mind to wisdom and knowledge. Ask that in what your brothers and sisters cannot control, they would remember the hope of glory and the exceedingly great power of God. Pray that though the outside world becomes reordered or even disordered, their lives would remain ordered as always—by operating in submission to the kingly rule of Christ. Ask God to remind your brothers’ and sisters’ hearts that He is over all things—every authority, power, dominion, and name. Pray that, in thinking of the might of God who indwells them, they would experience an increase in faith and have endurance in affliction.
You Are the Winner in Christ
Book of Revelation, Chapter 13; Luke, the Physician, Chapter 2, verses 10-11(NKJV)
People were frightened! What great military power will threaten us? How will I cope? How can I raise my kids in a good environment when things are as they are? Taxes!!!! Finances!!! Illness and death. Blasphemy against God in the media as well as the social arena. Questionable administration at the local and national levels. Wars and rumors of wars. Terrorism! Fear of communication breakdown. Is there any hope for my family? Is there any hope for you?
Sound familiar? These same thoughts entered the minds of God’s people living under Roman tyranny in the First Century A.D.
Where WAS the hope? WHO was the person who would come? His name was Jesus – The Messiah – THE Savior of the world who came, born of the Virgin Mary, and lived in the First Century!
He came to provide for our economic, financial, familial, and most of all for spiritual support as only He could and can as the Son of God. Most of all He came to save the people from their sins and to offer them joy, strength, and promise for the present and for the future.
I realize, like many of you, there are yet many unknowns as we continue battling this Coronavirus pandemic, but what a blessing above all – we have Jesus Christ living in us – the hope of glory!
So, the choice is still ours as it was with the Jews of the First Century. There will always be the infamous shouts of COVID-19 social distancing, vaccines, illness, and death. However we STILL live in a marvelous world created by God and we are called to continue to offer hope to our children and grandchildren, spouses and friends, because these still ARE the best of times.
“Why?” you may ask. Because God has promised to never leave us or forsake us.
God is still in control. Dr. David Jeremiah says, “God still has Satan on a leash and that cannot change.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “The only thing we have to fear, is feat itself.” That’s true! Do you believe it?
Let me offer you a prescription for this season of our lives:
…”Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.”
“For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke, the Physician, Chapter 2, verses 10-11(NKJV)
This Savior was later crucified on a Roman cross, buried, was resurrected from the dead by the all and only power of God. (Satan will only be able to offer a cheap and imaginary imitation of the resurrection). Check it out in the Book of Revelation, chapter 13. JESUS IS COMING AGAIN!
God is the true God! The devil is a defeated foe! You are the winner in Christ based on what was already accomplished on the Cross for you..
Harry Houdini, the famed escape artist from a few years back, issued a challenge wherever he went. He could be locked in any jail cell in the country, he claimed, and set himself free in short order. Always he kept his promise, but one time something went wrong. Houdini entered the jail in his street clothes; the heavy metal doors clanged shut behind him. He took from his belt a concealed piece of metal, strong and flexible. He set to work immediately, but something seemed to unusual about this lock. For thirty minutes he worked and got nowhere. An hour passed and still he had not opened the door. By now he was bathed in sweat and panting in exasperation, but he still could not pick the lock. Finally, after laboring for two hours, Harry Houdini collapsed in frustration and failure against the door he could not unlock. But when he fell against the door, it swung open! It had never been locked at all! But in his mind, it was locked and that was all it took to keep him from opening the door and walking out of the jail cell.
Is your bondage real or imagined; physical and/or mental? What does the Bible say? Is there a word or words spiritually and apply spoken regarding our DEPENDENCE upon God through Christ? Check out these Scriptures:
• John 8: 36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”
• Romans 6: 15-23 “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin id death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
• Galatians 5: 1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
In Charles Wesley’s hymn of 1739, “And Can It Be That I Should Gain” (Based on Acts 16: 26), verse 4 of the hymn reads:
Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night; thine eye diffused a quickening ray; I woke, the dungeon flamed with light, my chains fell off, my heart was free. I rose, went forth, and followed thee.” (United Methodist Hymnal page 363)
In Christ’s Liberating Love,
Pastor Louie Mabrey
A Saint’s Prayer
A Saint’s Prayer. What is a saint?
Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy affection may drag downwards; give me an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out; give me an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Tomas Aquinas
I came across Tomas Aquinas’ prayer and it caused me to reflect upon my own prayer life. I began to realize how I personally desire my Christian walk to be characterized by the same requests Thomas Aquinas desired in his petition to God. But, how can one have a “steadfast heart,” and “unconquered heart,” and an “upright heart” on a day-to-day basis amidst the trial and tribulations which intrude the Christian’s life, as well as the life of the non-believer? The answer is PRAYER!
As we continue to deal with the quarantine of COVID-19, I cannot think of a better and more spiritually profitable desire than to grow deeper in love with God through His Son, Jesus Christ, enabled by the Holy Spirit in the arena of prayer.
You may have noticed the heading above Aquinas’ prayer, entitled A Saint’s Prayer. What is a saint? The Bible tells us a saint is a Christian. Christian, are you more desirous of God? I lovingly challenge you (and family) to begin to ask God to deepen your love for Him in prayer. I know in my heart God will honor your prayer and will teach you via growth in His Word also, as you desire Him. He will help you establish your priorities, and He will make a way for a maturing and loving relationship with Him.