One Sunday morning, as we gathered for worship (remember those days?), a brother who was visiting for the first time was a bit mystified by some of the things that occurred during the service. One, which he shared with me later, was his confusion that, when I said, “Let us pray,” I was the only one who prayed. At least, I was the only one who prayed out loud. In his church culture, when the church is called to pray, everyone in the congregation prays, at the same time, out loud. I explained that I was leading our congregation as we prayed. I pointed to my use of plural pronouns such as “we,” “us,” and “our” when I prayed, because when I said, “Let us pray,” I meant it. And I mean it this morning. Brothers and sisters, let us pray.
Let us pray for Mavis Coetzee as she recovers from a hip replacement. Let us pray for Suné Scholtz as she and Stephen face the disturbing news of the coronavirus and the subsequent delay of her surgery. Let us pray for those in our congregation who are battling anxiety as they face the loss of income as well as future unemployment. Let us pray for the children who are adjusting to being schooled at home and for their moms who carry this large responsibility. Let us pray for our government and the many decisions they need to make in easing the lockdown.
Second Chronicles 20 records a time when various enemies surrounded Israel. King Jehoshaphat called the nation to fasting and prayer. I thought today of his simple prayer to Yahweh, “O our God … we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (v. 12). That is how I often feel. And it is a good place to be. For Jehoshaphat was simply following a long line of those who, when they faced difficulties, prayed.
When Noah was surrounded by a godless, faithless culture, he walked with God. And so we can assume that he prayed (Genesis 6:9). When Hagar was mistreated and felt hopeless, it would seem that she prayed (Genesis 16:7–14). When Jacob faced a very uncertain future, he prayed (Genesis 28). When Hannah desired a child, she prayed (1 Samuel 1:9–18). When David was in a cave hiding from Saul, he prayed (Psalm 18:1–3). When Elijah sought to help the sick son of a believing woman, he prayed (1 Kings 17:20–24). When Hezekiah faced what seemed to be an undefeatable enemy, he prayed (2 Kings 19:14–19). When Esther was facing a real possibility of death, I assume she prayed (Esther 4). When Daniel was in exile—hostile exile—he prayed (Daniel 6:10). When Nehemiah was deeply burdened about the condition of Jerusalem, he prayed (Nehemiah 1). When the nucleus of the early church was huddled together in a city whose leaders were hostile to them, they prayed (Acts 1:13–14). When Peter was imprisoned, the church prayed (Acts 12:1–5). When Paul was “quarantined” from gathering with believers, he prayed (Ephesians 1:14ff; 3:14ff).
When the Lord Jesus Christ was burdened with the brokenness of a sinful world, he prayed (Mark 1:35). When he was facing unimaginable pressure of being abandoned by God and cruelly treated by men, he prayed (Mark 14:32–39). When he experienced actual abandonment by God—for our sakes—he prayed (Matthew 27:45–46).
Brothers and sisters, like so many in church history, we are facing difficult days. Therefore, please hear and heed the appeal: Let us pray.
Trusting with you,