How do we pray as we wait and watch for this nightmare pandemic to be over? I have a suggestion which I believe might bring forth some quality prayer time and some blessings not so much in the “answer” to our prayer, but blessings in the process of praying itself.
There is an old “formula” for prayer which I learned many years ago. Some of you might also know it and use it. This formula or outline is easily remembered by the word ACTS, representing the four components of a prayer.
“A” stands for “Adoration.” Note here that our prayer does not begin with “give us this” and “we need that.” We begin with “adoration,” which is simply the verbal acknowledgement of all the wonderful and powerful qualities and characteristics of God and our worshipful naming of these aloud in prayer.
Of course, God already knows all these things about Himself, but the best way for us to approach God is to remind ourselves of His almighty goodness and to declare to Him that we believe these things about Him are most certainly true.
“C” stands for “Confession.” As we approach God and His complete holiness and perfection, we certainly must acknowledge our unholy and imperfect failures, faults, and shortcomings. This gives us the opportunity to take some inventory of our lives and remember God’s completely legitimate judgment upon us for our sins of both commission and omission (our sins we do and our sins because we have left things undone).
As we recite an honest account of our lives before our loving Heavenly Father, we can also remember His promise that He forgives us because of the death of His Son, Jesus, our Savior, by which God has forgiven all our sins.
“T” stands for “Thanksgiving.” The natural segue here is then to give thanks to God for sending Jesus and for Jesus dying on the cross to forgive us all our sins. And we certainly add to that our thank you to God for raising Jesus from the dead and thereby giving us eternal life in heaven as the greatest gift of all.
From there we can again run an inventory, this time of all the gifts and blessings that God has given to us collectively and to us personally.
With some patient and deliberate prayer time this list can go “on and on,” which not only appropriately gives God His rightful thanks, but this process blesses us as we remind ourselves of the tremendous blessings we have received from Him.
“S” stands for “Supplication,” which is an old-fashioned word meaning “making our requests.” Now, finally, we get to come before God and ask Him to “give us this” and say to Him, “we need that.”
The good thing to remember is that God has told us to come to Him in prayer with all our needs and even our wants. God is interested in our lives and circumstances, and He has promised to hear every prayer we say and to give us all that is in accordance with His good and perfect will.
When we say, “God answers every prayer,” we understand that He has three possible answers, yes, no, or wait. And He never tires of hearing our prayers and even commands us to “pray without ceasing.”
So what might be one “Pandemic Prayer” at this time? Here’s one you might use, or better yet, one prayer you might use as a bit of a model to write or say your own.
“Dear Heavenly Father, we give You all the glory for You are The Only True and Eternal God. We glorify You for Your creation of all things. We stand in awe of Your power and might. We know from Your Holy Scriptures in the Bible that You have loved us and all creation since the beginning. We know You continue to create and care for all that You have made. Nothing compares to You. You have control and dominion over everything everywhere.
“We come to You today again remembering our fallen sinful nature and our sins against You and against others by the things we have done and the things we have left undone. Too often we have failed to trust You. So often we put our faith in ourselves, others, and other things instead of in You. We have failed in so many ways to live and to love as You have commanded. We ask Your forgiveness and we joyfully remember Your Promise to forgive us for the sake of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord.
“And so we thank You, O God. We thank You for loving us so much that Jesus died to forgive us all our sins. And we thank You for raising Jesus so that we too might have eternal life. We thank You for all You have done for us and for all the blessings You give us, from the wonders of Your creation to the loved ones of our family and friends. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.
“In this particular time of the pandemic we ask You, Dear God, to show Yourself in a mighty way. We ask for those infected with the virus to have bodies which can fight off the disease which it causes. We ask You to give guidance and insight to researchers and scientists who are working on a vaccine and medications to treat it. We pray for Your comfort and peace for the families of those who are losing their lives to it.
“We ask Your special protection for the doctors, nurses, and all medical and hospital staff as they fight on the front lines. We ask this also for all first responders, grocery and essential workers. We ask for You to give hope to those who are suffering terribly economically because of this. We ask You to lead and guide all our elected officials who are making such difficult decisions through all of this.
“We pray for all of Your churches that they may stay strong in The Faith and love and serve the world around them. We pray especially for children and youth, teachers, and school administrators as they are so adversely affected. Give them hope and the assurance of Your love and presence.
“Grant us all, O Heavenly Father, to keep our Hope and Trust in You, for You are our ultimate solution in this and all adversities we encounter in our fallen world. Bring us at last into Your Everlasting Kingdom. In Your full and holy and perfect Name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen”
[Kollmeyer is Pastor Emeritus at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fayetteville. Follow Pastor Scott Ness and find out more at www.princeofpeacefayette.org.]