Monday, March 23, 2020

How to Pray the Lord’s Prayer For COVID-19

  What we commonly refer to as, “the Lord’s Prayer,” should really be named, “the Disciples’ Prayer”. After all, it was not Jesus telling us how he prayed, but how he wanted his disciples to pray.

  With that in mind, I’m not sharing this as something that everyone should pray even if they do not believe in Jesus. I am not trying to get the Lord’s Prayer back in public schools where it never belonged in the first place.[1]

  I am simply inviting those of you who already know that God is your Father because you have come to him by faith in Jesus Christ to apply his prayer to our present situation with COVID-19.

  This is also an example for anyone who wonders if God’s invitation to come to him by faith in his Son is for you. Perhaps the consideration of the way Jesus leads his brothers to pray would encourage you that following him is better by far than what you have already experienced of life in the world.

  I encourage you to read the Disciples’ Prayer in context.[2] My focus in this post is simply on the prayer itself. For each of the expressions of Jesus’ model prayer, let’s consider how we would expand it to deal directly with the current pandemic.

  “Our Father in heaven,

  The introductory expression to this prayer invites us to make much of our relationship to God as Father. We can express our love for him as our Father, our thankfulness that he is our Father, our appreciation for the salvation that has brought us into the adoption of sonship, and even our struggle to relate to him as a Father because of unresolved childhood-issues.

  In relation to COVID-19, we can thank God that we have him as our Father as we face such terrifying situations in life. We can also ask him to bless people all around us by using the shared insecurities to open their hearts to him as the only one who is sovereign over all things.

  The idea here is not to merely pray the exact words Jesus modelled, but to call on God as Father in all kinds of ways, and pray for all kinds of people we know to experience him as the Father he is.

  “hallowed be your name.

  With this prayer request we are asking God to lead people to honor and glorify his name in the midst of a terrifying situation. We may pray for governments to honor our Father’s name. We may think of specific people who have dishonored his name in the past and ask God to turn their hearts to feel the reverence and awe of truly knowing him. As we see people overwhelmed with fear, we can pray for them to come to know God so personally that his name would be hallowed, exalted, praised, adored, over everything that is taking place.

  “Your kingdom come,

  While a cure to COVID-19 would be great, and praying for adequate medical help for its victims is good, the greater need is for the kingdom of God to come into the helpless plight of humanity and show them how to receive eternal life. Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, so we are not praying that the world would embrace this kingdom.

  Instead, as the good news was always proclaimed with the message of, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel,”[3] we need to pray that people would hear and receive this good news. We can pray that God would bring his kingdom to be “at hand” for suffering and terrified people. We can pray that, in his kindness, he would lead people to repentance.[4] We can pray that God would open the eyes of the blind, and release prisoners from their chains of oppression. There are all kinds of ways to pray that the activity of God in bringing people into his kingdom would saturate the world with the hope of eternal life.

  “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

  A lot of us likely wonder what God’s will is in pandemics. Those who understand what God’s word describes about these end times would accept that it is his will for the seven seals to be opened and all their trumpets expressed.[5] One of the key purposes of God in bringing disasters to the earth is to demolish man’s idolatry. However, the book of Revelation shows that, even when such small scale judgments take place, the people “did not repent”.[6] Since, then, it is not God’s will to stop pandemics from taking place, we need to think of how his will would be done in the midst of such troubling times.

  One way to pray for God’s will to be done is in relation to the call of the gospel. God wants people everywhere to repent, so we can pray that people would come to repentance through the hearing of the gospel. We know that it is God’s will for people to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, so we can pray that God would make his good news stand out so clearly that people would believe in his Son.

  Another way to pray for God’s will to be accomplished is to pay close attention to whatever he is teaching us in his word each day and pray that his will about these matters would be fulfilled in our lives, our churches, our communities, and any specific applications that fit those Scriptures. There is always something God is teaching us, and some will he has in those matters, so praying that his will would be fulfilled will help us be part of his work as he answers.

  Before I address the second half of Jesus’ model prayer, I just want to say that the focus now changes. Our first interest is God, his glory, his kingdom and his will. When we come to the second half, God’s interest is on his children. You will notice that each prayer request is for “us”. The us is specifically the children of God, those who call on God as Father in the name of Jesus Christ his Son.

  With that in mind, the following prayers are what we pray for Jesus’ church throughout the world. This is especially given that the countries in which the pandemic is hitting the hardest are also the countries that were already persecuting our brothers and sisters in Christ before this happened. You will see from the requests that it is clear how to pray for God’s people in these areas.  

  “Give us this day our daily bread,

  This pandemic is most certainly going to affect the economies of nations, and the personal finances of many of the citizens. Christians are already suffering loss of family, loss of income, loss of finances, loss of property, because some countries consider them fair game for persecution.

  What we are asking for in this prayer is God’s provision for his people on a daily basis. Many of us North American Christians are able to stock up on food supplies that would last us a while if things got very bad. Plus we have money in the bank to get us through difficult times, at least for a season.

  However, in other places, putting food on the table is a daily chore. If people are cut off from financial resources through persecution (sometimes with the main bread-winner being martyred), and now they are hindered all the more with the pandemic, we need to pray for the daily provision of food for all God’s children all over the world every day of our lives. We may know of people among the believers of our community who live paycheck to paycheck. Our prayers for their daily provisions of food are in order. And, since God answered this prayer in the early church by leading the wealthy believers to contribute to the daily-bread needs of the poor, we can pray that God would move people who have much to share what they have with those who have little.

  “and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

  In short, because I believe that forgiveness in the Bible only refers to cancelling the debt of repentant people,[7] Jesus is reminding us that, when we come to him in repentance, asking him to forgive us, it presupposes that we are forgiving people when they come to us seeking mercy about anything they have done to us. We cannot withhold forgiveness from a repentant brother or sister and expect God to forgive us when we repent.

  Since pandemics have a way of increasing life’s pressures, there may be an increased need for forgiveness where we are not acting or reacting well. What we are praying for is that God would lead his children to be quick to repent and quick to forgive. It may be that someone has wronged us, and even though they have confessed or apologized, we are having trouble forgiving them. Or, it could be that someone has confronted us with the way we treated them and we are having trouble fessing up, so to speak. Such scenarios invite us to pray that repentance and forgiveness would happen everywhere it is needed.

  “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

  These scary times offer distinctive temptations to sin. Evil increases as we see the ugliness of the human heart moving people to incredible acts of selfishness. Fear can drive people to be quite different from the way we thought we knew them.

  In the midst of these things, the children of God want Father’s help so that we don’t give in to temptations. We also want to be delivered from the evil around us so we don’t fall prey to it, and we want to be delivered from it when we have already blown it.

  Naturally, there may be specific situations that we face that give us customized opportunity to pray for people or circumstances as they unfold. It will not be difficult to see when we are facing temptation and need help, and when we have caved already and need deliverance.

  I hope this gives enough of an idea of how to use the Disciples’ Prayer to customize what we pray for Jesus’ kingdom during these dark times. Even without a pandemic of any kind of sickness, there is still the pandemic of sin that is destroying lives all around us. The Disciples’ prayer always serves as an example in things to pray for, so it is always a good guide as we address the needs of the church as we await Jesus’ return.

© 2020 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] I mean by this that the Lord’s prayer is what Jesus taught his disciples to pray. It was never intended to be a rote prayer that non-believers recited as a duty to begin a school day. It was to teach Jesus’ disciples how to pray about anything at any time.
[2] Matthew 6:5-15
[3] Mark 1:14-15
[4] Romans 2:4
[5] The Book of Revelation shows that pandemics fit in to the description of the kinds of things that will happen during the time between Jesus’ first and second comings. The imagery of Jesus opening the seven seals shows that God is the one who is sovereign over these things. I do not believe that the images in Revelation enable us to make a timeline of events, but it does tell us characteristics to look for. Pandemics are a characteristic of Jesus opening the seven seals, so we can accept that God is using such things to carry out his sovereign plans.
[6] Revelation 9:20; 16:9; 16:11
[7] If you look at the topic of “forgiveness” on my blog, there are a few posts where I explain this. A few are videos of sermons I shared with our home church to help us understand the issue.  

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