‘Ebola Outbreak Spreads in West Africa’; ‘ISIS Fighters Vow to Create an Islamic Caliphate in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon’; ‘Boko Haram Kills Christians in Nigeria.’
As a journalist, I read the news everyday, as many of you probably do. Each day we are bombarded with news like the headlines listed above. Most of the time this news is hard to swallow, hard to absorb, sometimes hard to even relate to. We often can look at the headlines and think, “I just can’t read about another massacre, another war, another tragedy” and close the browser, and move on with our day.
Yet, there is another approach that we must remember: prayer.
The Time for Prayer
Prayer has been relegated to meal times, for requesting things, and for healing when our relatives get sick. These are all valid uses of prayer. We show we are thankful for the food God has provided for us, we request things so that we can more effectively serve Him, and we pray for our relatives because we care about their wellbeing.
Yet, despite all these common applications of prayer, praying for tragedies, or for lives in danger, are rarely what we think of doing off the top of our heads.
What I Forget about God and Prayer
Recently, at my church, the worship team led us in praying for the Ebola virus. As I sat there in the congregation with my head bowed, I thought “what am I praying for—am I praying for a miracle, something practical, do I believe God can intervene and stop this virus?”
All of these questions made me realize that I was forgetting what prayer is for, and what prayer tells us about God.
One of my favorite quotes is by A.W. Tozer who says, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” When I think about God and prayer, I find myself doubting that anything miraculous will really happen. I realized that I was forgetting 4 truths about God when I was trying to pray for these things:
God is able
He is all-powerful, capable of moving mountains if we simply believe that God can change things when we pray.
He is not a distant God that looks down without sympathy—no, this is a God who sent his only Son to die for us—this is a God that loves everyone on the earth and whose heart aches when we suffer.
The Gospels are full of Jesus’ healing, and stories abound today of miracles occurring with life-threatening diseases all because God is miraculous.
God is sovereign
Most important, God is in control. There are events taking place that we cannot possibly understand, but God is working through them, and His plan and scope of thinking is far greater than ours.
How We Should Pray
When I forget these truths about God, I end up praying, “Lord, please keep the death toll from Ebola as low as possible,” or something as limited as this. Instead, I should be praying, “Lord, heal all of those that world has already written off as dead, and convince them of your truth, healing them both physically and spiritually and adding them as my brothers and sisters.”
Be confident in your prayers, because the Lord is ABLE. Be heartfelt in your prayers because the Lord CARES. Ask for miraculous healing because the Lord has shown time and time again that He HEALS. And finally, remember that whatever the outcome that the Lord is SOVEREIGN.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” – James 1:5-7