Praying Through“Prayer does not fit us for greater work. Prayer is the greater work.” – Oswald Chambers
Some may view prayer as an archaic, ritualistic practice that shrinks in significance compared to human ingenuity, the advances of science and the application of brain power and technology. Yet history is replete with dramatic examples of prayer changing the course of events.
Biblical accounts of divine intervention are numerous. As are accounts from ancient and modern history. For example, the prophet Elisha was thwarting the plans of an enemy king. The king sent troops to attack the city where Elisha was. As Elisha’s servant panicked, Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see” (2 Kings 6:16). So, God gave the servant the ability to see a vast army of heavenly hosts in fiery chariots, encircling the enemy. Then Elisha prayed for God to blind the enemy army, which He did.
George Washington exclaimed after living through the French and Indian War that “The Hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith.”
Ben Franklin declared, “In the beginning of the Contest with Great Britain…we had daily prayer in this room for Divine protection…All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending Providence in our favor.”
Many credit prayer for influencing the outcome of World War II. The Battle of the Bulge was one of the bloodiest in American history. With 12,000 men besieged at Bastogne in Belgium, General Patton’s troops had to delay rescue due to unrelentingly horrid weather. Patton ordered Third Army chaplain Colonel James O’Neill to draft a prayer that would give Patton’s troops the break they needed. It was printed on hundreds of thousands of wallet-sized cards. The prayer read, “Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.”
The prayer worked. The weather miraculously cleared, and Patton was able to reinforce Bastogne. O’Neill was awarded the Bronze Star “for writing a prayer.”
The crisis in our midst presents an opportunity to unleash this power. As Oswald Chambers writes, “Prayer does not fit us for greater work. Prayer is the greater work.” Yes, there are many practical steps to take in dealing with the pandemic and its aftermath. In addition, we can offer prayer for everyone at the frontlines fighting COVID-19, everyone searching for solutions, everyone impacted by the virus.
Dear Lord, we pray for the healthcare workers. Strengthen and protect them as they serve unselfishly.
- For all public servants. Help all who provide essential services, from the sanitation workers to local and state political leaders, to know they are valued. Grant them wisdom and fill them with Your Spirit. Help them to know they are precious in Your sight.
- For first-responders, police officers and firefighters. We are thankful for their sense of duty and for their commitment to the safety and well-being of our communities.
- For those working on a vaccine for COVID-19. For those who are applying their skills and time to research a cure.
- For men and women in the military. May we all value their call to duty and emulate their commitment to our country.
- For The Salvation Army and other relief agencies. May their compassion and practical assistance help spread abroad the love and concern You have for our world.
- For the unemployed. Give them hope and consolation during this time of testing and inspire all of us to find ways to help one another.
- For those suffering from COVID-19 and experiencing loss. May they see Your light of truth and healing amid their pain and darkness.
- For individuals, businesses, organizations and community groups. Instill in them and all of us pride in America’s ability to contribute to the common good and find solutions to this pandemic.
- For You to see us through these circumstances by Your willing hand. Help us to honor Your desire to see good triumph, and to rely on Your power, Your grace, Your triumph of life over death.
And Lord, we realize that praying to You means turning toward You and heeding Your instructions for us to be obedient to Your truth and Your love, so that we may reflect Your righteousness, Your glory, Your love. Amen.