2020: A memorable year
Did you think 2021 would ever arrive? For most, this past year was like no other. And while hope for a return to normalcy begins to blossom, our nation and state are not out of the woods. How do we pray as we turn the corner?
In recent months our prayers have focused both on each of the nine life spheres and, for several recent months, on the emerging Covid-19 crisis specifically. But we begin this new year with a specific focus on the Church of Jesus Christ. Through all of this, we the Church have been impacted both BY the pandemic, and at the same, we have been given opportunities IN the pandemic. These two perspectives will guide your prayers today.
Fueling our worship
An important passage that gives us guidance for life in such times is I Peter 4. It will guide our prayers later, but first let’s use this chapter for giving personal praise to God. Read through the passage and make a written note of how each verse suggests some way the goodness of God is shown to us. (For example: (v.1) Christ suffered for us; (v.2) God gives us a new way to live; etc.) Once you have worked through the chapter this way, offer praise to God for these gifts and graces from Him in thankful worship.
Impacted BY the pandemic
With the instructions of this chapter as a background, let’s begin to pray for Christ’s church here in RI. First our focus will be on our brothers and sisters who have been personally affected by the Covid-19 crisis. Here are some commonly experienced challenges. Think specifically about several other churches you know of in our region as you pray for their godly response to each of these, such as:
On the personal side, believers have not been exempt from the negative effects of Covid-19. Pray for those who are:
- Reduced attendance in physical worship gatherings, leading to: more difficult ministry by pastors and worship leaders; diminished spiritual passion in the lives of worshipers; lost momentum in church growth; hard decisions imposed on stressed church leaders.
- Shutdowns and slowdowns in church programming, leading to: arrested spiritual growth and nurture for believers; feelings of loss and uselessness for Christian workers; lost opportunities in evangelism once fueled by these programs.
- Diminished depth of fellowship relationships leading to: spiritual declines in some lives; reduced enthusiasm for church life; tensions, conflicts, and frustrations from conflicting attitudes about these restrictions.
Opportunities IN the pandemic:
- Drained and discouraged by the changes brought about by the new work-at-home arrangements.
- Suffering financially from reduced income.
- Grieving the loss of loved ones.
- Worried about their children’s educational and/or emotional life.
1 Peter 4:7-11 will suggest ways that all of us can be used to advance the gospel in the midst of trials. Pray that we will be God’s instruments in these times.
Many RI-area believers serve both God and their communities by their involvement in one of the three most critically important life spheres at this time. These are Government (i.e., in local offices and bureaucracies); Health Care (in hospitals, clinics, institutions and offices); and Education (as teachers, administrators, and support staff). Use these same verses to guide your prayers as you intercede for them specifically to be used by God as they:
Churches uniting in prayer
- Radiate hope to their overworked colleagues and find opportunities for gospel witness
- Receive wisdom from God for the guidance of their labors toward the peace and benefit of our communities
- Respond with grace and patience to the frustrated citizens, parents, and students they serve.
This month we are focusing on the Relaunch of the TOGETHER We Pray ministry. Pray for faith and perseverance for each intercessor, prayer coordinator, and pastor. Meanwhile, lift up the churches that are mobilizing for 2021 involvement for the very first time. Many are working on it, and we will introduce more of them next month, but remember these five that have already started:
- Chinese Christian Church of RI, Pawtucket
- Christ Temple, Tiverton
- Community Baptist Church, Newport
- Salem Gospel Mission, Providence
- Stony Lane Baptist Church, No. Kingstown