Four ways to pray in light of coronavirus (COVID-19).
This article was first published here on 29 February. It was last updated on 27 March.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) that first emerged in Wuhan, China at the end of last year has now spread across East Asia and around the world.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been infected and over 25,000 people have died. (You can find live data and graphics from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at John Hopkins University, who are tracking the outbreak).
As Christians, how should we respond?
Faith in the Darkness
OMF General Director Patrick Fung wrote to members of OMF International in February:
‘Every visitor to our International Centre at 2 Cluny Road in Singapore sees the sign “Have faith in God.” However, when all is enveloped in darkness at night, the words are illuminated and “Have faith in God” commands our attention.
The Psalmist encourages us with these words in times of darkness and distress,
“Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (Psalm 139:12).
We have all been praying for the coronavirus situation. As many of us face many uncertainties, it is critical to remember that there is no uncertainty in God. We are deeply thankful to the Lord for what he has allowed us to do even with recent limitations. We are driven by faith, not by fear.
I have been reading the 1927 records of the China Inland Mission this past week, a period of much darkness for national Christians and Christian workers. All the missionaries were asked to evacuate by the Consulates because of the critical situation. Yet they were encouraged by these words from Marshall Broomhall:
“In the light we are largely unconscious of our limitations, but when the night descends, our helplessness takes hold upon us and make us cry out for God. Faith is a faculty which needs the dark in which to thrive. When we see our way, we have no need of faith, but when darkness falls then faith receives her opportunity.”
I have been much encouraged by the stories coming out of China. One church leader shared:
“The virus situation is critical. But the Lord has used this virus to unite many church leaders together to pray for the nation, for the church in China, like never before. Spiritual unity stands out in the midst of the virus outbreak. Also, for a long time, we have never seen so many church leaders spending time at home with their children and spouses, which is certainly a blessing as they have been forced to pause. The young people need their fathers, and it is happening now. We praise God.”
Yes, even the darkness will not be darkness to you, Lord. May our hearts be encouraged as we continue to put our faith in God. Perhaps this virus forces us to press the “pause” button. It is a time to pause, to reflect, but it is also a time to unite and to reach out. Let us continue to put our faith in him.”
Responding in Prayer
We express our faith in God through prayer, that he is faithful to listen and answer the prayers of his people. We can all pray for those affected by COVID-19. God is faithful to listen and answer the prayers of his people. We lift all those affected by the virus up to him.
How can we pray? What kind of things should we pray for?
Here are four things about God to help us as we pray for the coronavirus situation:
1. Pray to the Father, the creator and sustainer of all
Many of us have had our lives disrupted at this time. Let’s remember who it is that our Father is: the creator and sustainer of all. He is the one to whom the earth and all that is within it belongs.
Please pray for:
– Healing for those who are sick, and pray too for those who take care of them
– An end to the spread of the virus.
– Those who are self-isolating or under lockdown: for patience and good relationships within families
2. Pray to the God of all comfort
‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God’
(2 Corinthians 1:3)
In this situation, we can cry out to the Father of compassion to comfort those who are grieving and to help those struggling with the disruption to daily life.
Please pray for:
– peace and comfort to those who are fearful and anxious
– for those who suffer loss of income or employment, or incur unexpected expenses
– that many will be drawn to Christ, a sure hope in uncertain times
3. Pray to the Spirit, who brings wisdom and strength
This is huge challenge for leaders at many levels and medical workers across the globe. God the Spirit provides wisdom and strength. In his grace, he gives strength to the weary and sustains people. He grants wisdom, even to those who do not know him.
– strength for all who have huge workloads and tremendous responsibilities at this time
– wisdom for those making crucial decisions
4. Pray to Christ, the light of the world
The darker the surroundings, the brighter the light shines. In times of darkness, difficulty and uncertainty, Christ’s Church often grows, both spiritually and numerically.
– Christians across the world to continue to trust in the Lord and learn to always turn to Jesus for the peace they seek
– Christians to faithfully point others to Jesus in these uncertain times.
– Churches to unite in prayer and find ways to support one another and those around them
– OMF workers and other Christian workers to know God’s peace and to turn their anxious thoughts into prayers (Philippians 4:6). Pray for physical, mental and spiritual protection
Our practical response
We have also been responding to this outbreak in practical ways. Click the button below to read an update from Assistant General Director Sam Wunderli about the steps we have been taking to protect our workers at this time.