I’m not a man prone to hyperbole. So, I don’t believe it’s an exaggeration when I say that the events that will unfold this week will be remembered for the rest of our lives.
These are strange times. The coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on, with records of new cases being set in my home state of Kentucky on nearly a daily basis. The same goes for my local community and county. The national trends are similar. With no clear end in sight, the long-term effects of the pandemic on our churches, our communities, and our country remain to be seen.
As if one challenge wasn’t enough, we are also in the midst of a political campaign season that is divisive and wearisome. The ideological and philosophical chasm between the two major political parties continues to widen, and church members are often caught in the crossfire. At the time of this post, we are on the eve of Election Day. Due to the unique circumstances of this particular political season, there’s an expectation that the outcome of the presidential election may not be known for several days. Furthermore, it’s likely that whomever loses the election may be quick to challenge the results.
In times like these, God’s people need to be fervently crying out to Him in prayer. We need God’s help. We need God’s wisdom. We need His blessing on our nation. I’m grateful that the churches of the Kentucky Baptist Convention have been encouraged to designate today as a day of prayer. I’m sure many other Christians will be praying as well.
With so many challenges before us, how then should we pray?
Jesus has answered that question for us. His disciples once asked him to teach them to pray. He responded by teaching them the “Model Prayer” (known by some as the “Lord’s Prayer”). This model prayer is relevant for every situation that we face, and it certainly applies in these modern times:
“Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:9-13, CSB).
In the Model Prayer, Jesus lists several petitions that we can apply to our current situation:
- “Your name be honored as holy.” God is holy, as the Bible makes clear in many different places. But as Christians, we should pray for God’s name to be honored as holy. While we may quickly apply this to our nation and the ever-increasing ungodly culture that we find ourselves living in, the reality is that we must apply this petition first to the church. God’s name will only be honored as holy when God’s people live lives of holiness and obedience to His Word. Whether we like it or not, the world is watching how the church responds during these challenging days. Let us pray that the church will honor the Lord by what we say and how we behave.
- “Your kingdom come.” During this political season, it’s helpful to remember that no matter who sits in the Oval Office, God still sits on His throne. While I am incredibly grateful to be a citizen of the United States, the biblical truth is that my citizenship in America is temporary, while my citizenship in heaven is eternal. My ultimate citizenship changed the day I became a Christian. And God’s kingdom continues to expand every time someone else trusts in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Therefore, I believe we should pray for God’s kingdom to come during this present moment through evangelistic conversions. Many people are hurting right now, and many are open to the gospel. May we pray that God will use this present moment to advance His kingdom as more and more people become citizens of heaven!
- “Your will be done.” Most of us have a preferred outcome for the election. We all have a preferred outcome for the pandemic. However, God may have other plans that are only known to Him. Much like Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, we certainly should offer up our petitions to the Lord, but we should do so with an attitude of “Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). God is still sovereign, and we must trust that His plan will be accomplished.
- “Give us today our daily bread.” I love bread. Especially hot rolls from Texas Roadhouse! Quite honestly, bread is not hard to come by for most of us. However, when Jesus teaches us to pray for our daily bread, He’s talking about more than just bread. He’s teaching us to pray for God to meet our daily physical and material needs. One pressing physical need we all face right now is protection from COVID-19. Therefore, the church should continue to pray for a vaccine to be developed and distributed. The church should pray for those who have contracted the virus. The church should pray for the health and safety of the most vulnerable among us. God cares about our physical needs, so we should not hesitate to take these types of petitions to Him.
- “Forgive us our debts.” Some churches have experienced significant levels of conflict during the past few months over politics and the pandemic. I have heard stories of churches fighting about which political candidates they support. I have heard stories of churches fighting about the steps taken by church leadership to navigate the challenges of the pandemic. I have heard about church members fighting over masks. These types of quarrels certainly do not honor the Lord. The reality is that church members are not perfect yet. We still sin from time to time. In His letters to the 7 churches in Revelation 2-3, Jesus called on most of them to repent in some way. Perhaps He is calling the church to do the same today.
- “Do not bring us into temptation.” These challenging times tempt us to respond in several ways that do not honor the Lord. We may be tempted to anger. We may be tempted to worry or anxiety. We may be tempted to fear or despair. We may be tempted to slander or gossip. We may be tempted in any number of ways to sin against the Lord in our attitudes and our actions. During this week, pray that you and your fellow believers will not give in to these temptations.
- “Deliver us from the evil one.” The Bible describes the devil as a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). He will attack the church in multiple ways, and he is certainly using this season of politics and a pandemic in his attempt to inflict damage on Christ’s bride. But, the good news for the church is that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! Therefore, we should pray for the Lord to deliver us from the evil one today and every day, trusting that He has the power and authority to do so.
Again, I am not prone to hyperbole, and I certainly don’t think it’s an exaggeration to state that we desperately need God’s help in this hour. To my fellow believers, today is a day to pray. May we use Jesus’ model prayer as a relevant guide to help us approach the throne of grace during these modern times!