Mar 24, 2020

The World Evangelical Alliance has called for a Global Day of Prayer and Fasting on 29 March (this coming Sunday) in response to the COVID-19 crisis (https://covid19.worldea.org/global-day-of-prayer-fasting/).

In addition the WEA launched a website on the COVID-19 crisis that aims to help church leaders, individuals and health professionals respond to the ongoing pandemic (see https://covid19.worldea.org/).

A GUIDE FOR THE DAY

INTRODUCTION

Then one night the Lord appeared to Solomon and said,

"I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices. At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy—a place where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart. (2 Chronicles 7:12-16 New Living Translation)

God’s promise to God’s people is that of restorative response to humble prayer. God’s people are now scattered worldwide in-Christ, yet wherever we are, there Jesus is in the midst of us (Matthew 18:20).

Wherever we are, we are individually the temple of the Holy Spirit and collectively the temple of the living God (1 Corinthians 6:19, 2 Corinthians 6:16).

What was promised in the temple of Solomon can be fairly appropriated by those of us under the New Covenant of Jesus Christ. Our very lives are the living sacrifices (Romans 12:1) acceptable to God, as we lay them down in service for others (Romans 12:3 onward; Philippians 2:3-11 onward). So we can rest assured that God will be attentive to our cries for help when we come with the attitude of Christ, in humility and dependence, committed to obedient service, even unto death. For wherever we are, it is set apart as a holy place, for we are God’s holy people in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:18, 2:19; Philippians 4:21; Colossians 3:12; Hebrews 13:12; 1 Peter 2:9; Jude 1:3 among many other passages). Wherever we are, with the attitude of Christ, empowered by the Spirit of Christ, God’s name is, and will continue to be, honored.

With that assurance, let us join our hearts and our focus before God on this day set aside to pray and fast in faith and hope for God’s mercy and grace in the midst of COVID19 virus troubles. Pray with expectancy that God will indeed hear from heaven, forgive our sins and restore our lands, and all who dwell in them.

This simple guide has been created to help you pray, fast and seek God’s face during the course of the day. Whether in isolation or with loved ones, well and waiting for the vaccine or infirm and praying for a recovery, we hope this guide will inspire you with ideas to help you rejoice in your time before the throne of our gracious God where we receive mercy and find grace when we need it most (Philippians 4:4; Hebrews 4:16).

GLOBAL DAY OF PRAYER & FASTING

“Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress…Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. (from Psalm 107 NLT)

PREPARE YOURSELF

The Apostle Paul, encouraging Roman believers, wrote, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 New Living Translation)

The world is full of fear and anxiety right now as people struggle to make sense of the potential threats to their physical and economic wellbeing. The best comfort secular governments can offer is an assurance that they are working on the problem and an encouragement to remain calm, rational and kind to one another. Yet, human nature being what it is, people are too easily consumed by self-preservation. Panic purchasing at grocery stores reveals how little we are naturally concerned about the needs of others.

This should not be so with followers of Jesus. We do not copy the behavior and customs of this world (Romans 2:2). Instead, we have an opportunity to shine like bright stars (Philippians 2:15) as we respond to our circumstances like Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit—living and serving in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3). That begins with coming into and remaining in the presence of God,

• With belief — the prerequisite for calling on God (Romans 10:14)

• With humility — in weakness, confessing our need of God and sins that separates us (Isaiah 59:1-2)

• With desperation — earnest prayer is powerful in its effects (James 5:16)

• With expectation — that God will hear and rescue (Micah 7:7; Zechariah 10:6)

• With confidence — that God will hear and respond positively (1 John 5:14)

• With awareness — that we are not alone, but part of “all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18 for example)

• With gratitude — alert and thankful for the goodness of the Lord (Colossians 4:2)

• With peace — not anxious for anything, but trusting God in all things (Philippians 4:6-7)

As we commence this dedicated time of prayer and fasting for God’s intervention in the COVID19 pandemic, let us come in faith and hope. Let us hold fast to the promise of God to servant Israel,

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10).

This is true for us because he has chosen us in Christ Jesus and will not reject us (1 Thessalonians 1:4).

A WORD ABOUT FASTING

If you are able, we encourage you to fast from food throughout the day so you can focus fully on your time with God. However, we are aware that this can be difficult of some who may not be used to the discipline. The Scottish Minister Andrew Bonar defined fasting as “abstaining from anything that hinders prayer”. In this sense then, giving up our technology for a day can be a considerable feat! Ultimately, we would like you to take whatever time you have and focus it entirely on God in the context of the situation at hand: COVID19. Any discomfort we might feel from giving up that which we rely on is minor compared to the agony being suffered by the hundreds of thousands afflicted with this latest corona virus. We encourage you to do what you can. With our spirit, heart, mind, and body full of faith and hope — Let the day begin!

SUGGESTED MODULES

Rather than develop a fixed timetable, here are 16 half-hour modules to help you remain focused throughout an entire eight hours. This allows you to pick and choose some options if you reach the end of your own creative inspiration in prayer. Some modules may take you longer, others may be less relevant, but you should find something here to hold your, and your loved ones', attention before God, who is intimately present with us.

Items you might like to have available:

Plenty of drinking water for the day • Bible • Pen/Paper • Music Instrument or Player • Soap/Water • TP, Tissues or Paper Towels • Magazines or Newspapers • (Latex) Gloves • A Medical Facemask or Handkerchief • Telephone, Smartphone, Device or Computer • Hot Beverage Maker (for tea/coffee) • Pillow • Access To Fresh Air.

Anchor Texts Focus Activity

Pr 28:13, 1 Jn 1:9 Confession, Reception & Peace

Recite ‘The Jesus Prayer’ to the north, south, east and west: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Repeat as often as you feel led, then do it one last time to the points of the compass, leaving out “on me, a sinner”.

Pray one or both of the confessional prayers at the end of this document, or one you’re more familiar with.

Read the anchor text Scriptures and thank God for the mercy and forgiveness that we receive in Jesus Christ.

Meditate in silence on the good things the Lord has done for you.

Receive the peace of Christ available to you.

Ps 28:6-9 Praise God for mercy & strength

Speak out your gratitude to God, listing specific things you are grateful for.

Sing three of your favorite worship songs or hymns.

Ps 46 & 91 Our Protection

Read both anchor text Psalms in full.

Write your reflections about one of the Psalms.

Pray as you write: Ask God for revelation.

* Write what you sense God is saying to you

* Write what you sense your response should be

* Write how you will act out that response.

1 Tim 5:8 Our Families

Gather your family (if not already gathered) and share what you appreciate about each other. Acknowledge each one’s unique gifts and tell them how they bless your life.

Call family members who are not with you—on the phone, or if possible, group chat via online video and express your love for one another.

Ask what each one needs from you.

Share what you need from them.

Thank God together for one another.

Pr 27:10 Our Friends

Draw a chart of all your friends starting with you in the center, your closest friends around you, then more distant friends and friends of friends.

Connect friends to friends who know each other with a line. The more interconnected lines you have, the stronger and more supportive your social connections.

Write notes of appreciation to your closest circle of friends.

Pray for your friends' health, wellbeing, relationships, financial situation, and God’s purpose for their lives.

Thank God for your friendships.

Mark 12:29-31 Our Neighbors

Repeat this several times: “This is an equally important commandment: that I love my neighbor as myself.”

Pray for all the neighbors that live around you, naming those that you know.

Ask God to bless and prosper them and give them peace.

Invite one neighbor household to share a drink with you*. Offer to pray a blessing over them.

*If you are in isolation, chat at a distance while each of you drink separately.

Ps 24:1-6, Jam 4:7-10, Lam 3:22-33 Virus Containment

Wash your hands with soap, slowly lathering them and intercede for God to forgive our sins and intervene and halt the spread of the COVID19 virus.

Rinse your hands of the lather, thanking God for love and compassion that is new every morning.

Read aloud Lamentations 3:22-33. 2 Cor 12:8-10 Virus Infected Cut out and collect images or articles from magazines or newspapers that represent nations, regions, cities, etc. greatly afflicted by the COVID19 disease.

Pray for God’s loving kindness on the infected population. That they would seek him and find him even though he is not far from them (Acts 17:27).

Pray especially for followers of Jesus infected with the virus. That God’s power would work wonders in their weakness. That they would know a supernatural sense of grace and peace in their time of trial.

Ps 6:1-10 Virus Inflicted

Meditate on the anchor text Scripture.

Imagine the anguish of a person inflicted by the fullblown virus. Feel the aching bones. Take several small shallow breaths as if it were difficult to breathe.

Empathize. Cry out to God from an attitude of deep compassion.

Repeat the kyrie eleison, “Lord, have mercy”. Plead with God for relief for them.

Matt 5:4, 2 Cor 1:3-4 Virus Fatalities

Hug a large pillow while you pray for those who are mourning the loss of loved ones. Ask God to envelop them with love, and comfort them in their grief with a tangible presence of peace by the Holy Spirit.

Bless them with the promise from Scripture that those who mourn will be comforted, as God is the source of all comfort.

Pray for mourners who follow Jesus, asking God to remind them that we do not grieve as people who have no hope, but we look forward to the resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:13b).

Mal 4:2 Virus Remedy

Jump and leap and laugh with joy in anticipation of a vaccine being produced for this virus. Do it as an act of faith in God’s divine grace, because we fear God’s name.

Ask for wisdom for the virologists and epidemiologists as they work on vaccines and other potential remedies. Stand patiently in one spot, eyes closed, without moving for some time, turn toward a bright light and slowly open your eyes.

Pray for the grace of perseverance as we await our deliverance from this disease, in the hope that a new day will dawn bringing healing with it.

Ps 68:5-6 Isolated & Lonely

Remember that we are all members of families, especially the family of God in-Christ. Read the anchor text Scripture.

Give thanks for the different types of family God has placed us in.

Pray for those who may not have deep family connections, or worse: whose family is the source of abuse. Forced isolation can induce great anxiety. Pray that God would be their defender and deliverer.

Pray for people within your known network who might feel cut off from community. Particularly the elderly, otherwise ill or disabled.

Write down the names of those you know and commit to contacting later them to cheer them up and bring them joy.

Job 29:11-17 Poor & Vulnerable

Be like Job. He was a champion of the poor and vulnerable, yet he suffered for his righteousness.

Write down ways you can practically help those most vulnerable to suffering badly due to COVID19. Many will experience financial hardship, basic food supplies may be scarce, exposure to extreme weather could pose a problem. You don’t need to solve every problem but expect the Lord to inspire you to act.

Pray provision for emergency relief agencies as they mobilize to meet needs in places where the virus is in an exponential growth phase among those will limited healthcare resources.

Pray for those ones in high density living conditions with low access to adequate health care and subsistence standards of living.

Add to your list more practical ways you could help the poor and vulnerable if they come to mind while you are praying.

Rom 13:1-5, 1 Tim 2:1-3 Public Authorities

Submit to public authorities as responsible citizens. In a public health crisis, they need to protect their people and we need to trust their judgement—so long as it does not contravene Biblical ethics.

Write down ways you can work to counteract civil unrest in your locality. We are called to work in godliness, with quiet dignity, for peace.

Pray wisdom for your local and national government and those around the world as they carry their responsibilities justly. Pray that their work will enable you to continue living peaceful and quiet lives. Pray a blessing over your local leaders (regardless what you mthink of their politics).

Gal 6:3-5 Health Professionals

Put on a facemask and a pair of gloves if you have them. If not, at least fold some clean toilet or tissue paper, paper towel or handkerchief and hold it against your mouth and nose for a long while. Try to breathe while you move vigorously.

Imagine spending 12-16 hours a day behind a facemask, gloves and protective clothing tending to the sick and dying. Imagine the frustration when there is not enough equipment and no known remedy except to keep patients alive until the body can fight off the virus—if it does.

Praise God for people willing to help in this way. Who pay careful attention to their work, seeking satisfaction for a job well done, a person healed.

Walk to an open window, doorway or air conditioner vent, remove your gloves and mask and take a deep breath. Feel the relief, the energy, the freedom of breath.

Pray refreshment for all health professionals.

Ps 37:1-7, Pr 11:25, Matt 6:24-34 Economy & Wealth Stop.

Be still. Wait. When you think you’ve waited long enough, wait some more.

Repeat this: “I will trust in the Lord and do good. I will delight in the Lord. I commit everything I do to the Lord and trust Him. I will wait patiently for Him to act. I will not worry about evil people prospering.” (from Ps 37:1- 7). Say it again.

Write down how you can refresh others through being generous with whatever you have.

Read Matthew 6:24-34. Thank God that you are more valuable than birds and flowers.

Commit to seeking first God’s kingdom and living right, according to Jesus' teaching.

Pray for the global economy:

— for those who have lost jobs because of the COVID19 restrictions

— for those who have lost wealth in stock market crashes

— for those who have lost homes because of mortgage defaults

— for those whose foundations were shown to be sand.

Pray that they would turn to God and build their lives on a surer foundation, the rock that is Christ Jesus. That they would surrender pursuits of material wealth for selfish gain and follow Jesus.

1 Thess 5:12-13, Heb 13:17 Our Spiritual Leaders

Honor your leaders in the faith.

Get down on your hands and knees as if you were a sheep.

Thank God for them right now by name. Bless them and their families. Ask God to empower them with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus to carry out the responsibilities of leadership as good shepherds of God’s flock.

Prepare an expression of your love for when you see them next (a word of thanks, Scripture, encouragement, a token of appreciation, etc.). Pray that it will bring them joy in the midst of the stressors resulting from the COVID19 crisis.

Josh 1:6-9, Jn 17:18-24 God’s Mission

Pray for churches to mobilise care for those who are most affected by the virus in their societies, and to send aid, personnel and other resources to areas in need that do not yet have churches able to minister to them. This infection is providing Christ’s global Church the single best opportunity it has ever had to make disciples of all nations.

Pray that missions organisations will be strong and courageous. Many missions are carrying on as ‘business as usual’, taking precautions to keep their people safe in the field, but COVID19 changes things. The world is not the same and missions, as many have known it, will not be the same. Bold adaptation will be needed.

Pray for the missionaries on the ground, many of whom will be serving in fields where the rampant. Pray for God’s wisdom as they assess how best to minister; and for their children, who will be affected by their decisions. Pray for grace if God calls them to return to their passport country for the sake of their health and families.

Commit to unity. Jesus prayed that the world will know and believe that the Father lovingly sent the Son because of the one-ness of His disciples (and all those of us who follow after the first disciples). Our indivisible one-ness, our self-sacrificing serving of one another, reflects how the Father sent the Son into the world and how the Son now sends us—so that the Father will be glorified through the Son. This is the heart of our participation in God’s mission.

Dare to pray, “here I am Lord, send me…” (Isaiah 6:8), and by extension with Jesus' prayer, “send me in loving community so that by our love for one another the world will know and believe that the Father sent you.”

Write how you sense God calling you to participate as a disciple in making disciples during this COVID19 crisis— bringing reconciling peace and healing to the world in the name of Jesus.

Discuss your sense of call and contribution to God’s mission with others. Together, plan before God how to make your respective contributions, as part of your church on mission.

Matt 6:9-13 The Lord’s Will

Commit your future and the future of the world to God’s will.

Conclude by praying as the Lord led us to pray and tradition has shaped it:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thank you for praying!

OTHER CREATIVE IDEAS ONLINE

In addition to the module recommendations, there remain a lot of creative ways to pray. As Brother Lawrence (Practicing the Presence of God) has said, “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God.” Prayer is a conversation, communication, communion with God and there are many ways we can connect with God—to be with God, to praise God, to receive from God, and to askGod to intervene in our lives and this world.

Christian Prayer Resources is a huge list of online links to websites containing books, documents and apps about prayer, with ideas for prayer, training for prayer, and prayers created by others. This can be located here: https://www.christianprayerresources.org

Seven Spheres of Influence is a concept developed within YWAM to pray for aspects of civil society. You can take each of these and pray for them with regard to how they might be affected by COVID19. You can read more about it from this link: https://bit.ly/7influencespheres

Christianity Today has produced a list of 20 Prayers To Pray For This Pandemic. It can be read here: https://bit.ly/CT20prayers.

24-7 Prayer International has a focus on praying for the Corona Virus. You can join their prayer campaign here: https://www.24-7prayer.com/coronavirusprayer

The Global Outreach Day team have also initiative a prayer campaign in response to COVID19. They recommend a number of resources on their website here: https://www.go2020.world/prayer#prayer-resources

Finally, an excellent video praying about COVID19 has been produced by Prayercast.com. It also includes some encouragements to help us pray. You can find the video here: https://prayercast.com/coronavirus.html

To make the most of your day of prayer, visit our COVID19 website for additional inspiration, information and links to other global prayer initiatives to help you to keep praying for the world in this time of crisis: https://worldea.org/prayercovid19

Prayer, praise, encouragement and testimony can also be posted to our “COVID19 Global Prayer” Facebook group. Ask to become a member, answer three questions, then you post. When you do, tag it with #globalprayer_covid19. You can find the group page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/covid19globalprayer/

Spread the word — and let us praise the Lord together for His great love!

PRAYERS OF CONFESSION

Excerpts From The Book of Common Worship, 1946

O Holy One, we call to you and name you as eternal, ever-present, and boundless in love. Yet there are times, O God, when we fail to recognize you in the dailiness of our lives. Sometimes shame clenches tightly around our hearts, and we hide our true feelings. Sometimes fear makes us small, and we miss the chance to speak from our strength. Sometimes doubt invades our hopefulness, and we degrade our own wisdom.

Holy God, in the daily round from sunrise to sunset, remind us again of your holy presence hovering near us and in us. Free us from shame and self-doubt. Help us to see you in the moment-by-moment possibilities to live honestly, to act courageously, and to speak from our wisdom.

Dear Heavenly Father, we lower our heads before you and we confess that we have too often forgotten that we are yours. Sometimes we carry on our lives as if there was no God and we fall short of being a credible witness to You. For these things we ask your forgiveness and we also ask for your strength.

Give us clear minds and open hearts so we may witness to You in our world. Remind us to be who You would have us to be regardless of what we are doing or who we are with. Hold us to You and build our relationship with You and with those You have given us on earth.

Almighty God, who does freely pardon all who repent and turn to Him, now fulfil in every contrite heart the promise of redeeming grace; forgiving all our sins, and cleansing us from an evil conscience; through the perfect sacrifice of Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

A Contemporary Confession by John C. Birch (https://faithandworship.com, 2016)

God of healing, God of wholeness, we bring our brokenness, our sinfulness, our fears and despair, and lay them at your feet. God of healing, God of wholeness, we hold out hearts and hands, minds and souls, to feel your touch, and know the peace that only you can bring.

God of healing, God of wholeness, this precious moment in your presence and power, grant us faith and confidence that here broken lives are made whole.