In these uncertain times when we are facing a world-wide pandemic and the potential for a world-wide depression, I felt an urge from the Holy Spirit to address several relevant questions through a blog series.
These are difficult questions, and you may be surprised how the Bible answers them. Let’s explore the truth together.
***This blog addresses the second question. Check here for answers to the other questions.
Scripture is taken from the King James Version.
2. What can I do to protect myself and my community from the virus?
The answer is so simple I fear most will overlook it:
The virus is a physical plague, and so there is an appropriate physical response: listen to the recommendations of our doctors and government. Did you know the Bible commands us to do just that? Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Additionally, in 2 Timothy 1:7 Pauls tells us, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” So, stay calm, use your common sense, conform to the restrictions and recommendations of your leaders, and maintain a spirit of love one for another.
While the coronavirus is a physical substance, the reason COVID-19 is here is spiritual (as explained through Part 1 of this series). Therefore, there is an appropriate spiritual response: pray.
In 2 Chronicles 7:12-14, God specifically instructs on what to do in the event of a plague.
Yes, it’s really that simple. Even though the virus is a physical condition, we can actively combat it with a spiritual action. Again, let me repeat: we should pray in addition to abiding by the physical guidelines set forth by our government and health professions. I am not telling you to pray and then ignore washing your hands or go hug your neighbor. As my grandmother says, “God gives us faith, but he also gave us a brain.” The Bible puts it a little different: “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:7). In other words, we can act on faith, but don’t do stupid things like ignoring what every doctor around the world tells you to do. I’m not trying to be rude, but I want to be straightforward. We can exercise faith and our sound mind simultaneously.
Is this really applicable?
Okay, so let’s break this down. Pestilence is a plague or illness. The coronavirus fits that category. The pestilence is sent among his people. I am willing to say that Christians live in every nation affected by the virus, so this pestilence is among his people. This verse is most definitely applicable to COVID-19.
Can anyone pray?
Notice God says “If my people.” Not all people. Not the nation. My people. That’s the born-again believers. If you haven’t begun your personal relationship with Jesus, this verse won’t work for you. First, ask God to forgive you of your sins and send the Holy Spirit to live inside of you, and only then are you considered one of God’s people. Then, you can bank on this verse.
What do I need to pray?
Don’t miss the three steps needed to unlock the promise: we have to humble ourselves, pray, and seek God.
First, humbling yourself means to strip yourself of pride. Some people pray with their face in the floor to show humility. Others thank God for hearing them despite their sinful flesh. Whatever your strategy, the point is to get real with God. No hiding. No beating around the bush. No popping your bubble gum in between words. Come to God with honesty and transparency.
Second, pray means to ask. We are to plainly ask God to forgives us of our sins and deliver us from the virus. Again, it does no good to ask God to forgive you if you intend to repeat your sin tomorrow. If you sincerely ask God to forgive you, then you must truly never want to commit that sin again. This is repentance: turning away from your sin and towards a new life with God. Don’t get me wrong: I still struggle with certain faults, but you better believe I get thoroughly upset with myself as soon as I recognize I am letting those things back into my life and beg God to remove them and the desire for them from my life. So, to pray while being humbled means to ask God sincerely.
Third, seek God. How? Combine the first two: humble yourself in your prayer. James 4:8 promises that if we draw night to God, he will draw nigh to us. Imagine praying is the same as going to God’s porch and knocking on his front door. If you don’t really mean what you are saying, God will treat you like a salesman. He might listen to you for a minute before sending you away or he might not even open the door. If, however, you are sincere, God will open the door, hear what you have to say, and answer you. Only you know when you actually want to meet with God. Have that genuine desire to fellowship with him, and he will never turn you away.
How important is it to pray?
If you doubt in your mind what good your prayer can do, that’s nothing more than Satan stopping you from exercising a God-given right. Do you know how many times the prayer of one person saved a nation? Exodus is full of times God would have wiped out Israel for their sins, but the prayer of the single man Moses stopped the judgment (Exodus 32:7-14 is one example).
Let me put it another way: do you want to enter heaven and hear Jesus ask why you let your nation fall? We are God’s priests (2 Peter 2:5, 9). That means just as Moses stood between the sins of Israel and God’s judgement, we are to stand between our nations and God’s wrath. I hope you already pray daily for your leaders and your nation. If not, start now. Pray for God to be merciful and forgive us individually and nationally for our sins. Pray for God to deliver us from the virus either supernaturally or through modern medicine. Not only are we expected to do so as priests, but it’s just the right thing to do.
What if I don’t know what to say?
Okay. I struggled with that one for a while. I have found two things true. First, it doesn’t matter if you sound like an idiot or not. As long as you are sincere, God will accept your prayer. To help me, I just imagined Jesus sitting in the room with me and chatting to one of my friends. Over time, I learned I could speak to him just like a do everyone else.
Second, you can always pray Scripture. King David had a habit of reminding God of things. Of course, God never forgets, but thinking about how God dealt with similar situations in the past helps us know what to expect from him now and allows us to ask with confidence for God to be consistent with the character he has shown in the past. In other words, if God consistently saved David and Israel when they cried out to him, we can trust God will hear and save us today.
Below are a few prayers modeled by David. Notice that he often asks for forgiveness for his sins and then asks God to take care of his city and nation.
O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger,
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness:
I close with God’s words through Isaiah.
Lord, we are reasoning together with you and are willing and obedient. Please make our sins white as snow and return our land to good as you have promised. We have humbled ourselves, acknowledged our personal and national sins, and seek your intervention from this virus. We know that we will not be ashamed if we put our trust in you because your word is truth, and we pray this prayer in accord with your promise to Solomon to heal our land if we humble ourselves, pray, and seek. In Jesus name, we look for your redemption. Amen.