There is so much craziness going on right now. We can look around and see panic, fear, and uncertainty. If you watch the news for a few minutes and you would not be faulted for feeling like the world is a scary place. Not only this but if you wait just a few minutes it can look even scarier. So, what do we do with this? How do we combat the panic, fear, and uncertainty? What can we do in the face of all we see around us?
There are of course many things we can do but only a few are worthwhile. We can respond in fear. That is a natural response. We can see the chaos and turn inward in fear and let the uncertainty make us feel helpless. We can withdraw and let the fear dictate our response. This is not a good response. Fear will make us do all sorts of crazy things. We can let that fear grow and start to see new scary things. When we do this, everything becomes scary. We can give in to the fear and start to be overly concerned with ourselves. We can start to hoard things and feel like we have to make sure we have enough even if this comes at the expense of others who are in need. We can start to think only about ourselves and our needs forgetting that there are some who have nothing. Those who have little or nothing are especially vulnerable in times of crisis because they do not have the means to turn inward. These are things we can but should not do.
Then there are things that we can and should do when we see the chaos and uncertainty. We can reach out to those in need and provide comfort, hope, and support. We can see the chaos and choose to love. This can look like a lot of different things and yes there may need to be cautious but we can still choose to love and provide hope for the hopeless. But there is also something else we can do. We can pray.
Christians talk a lot about prayer, but I am afraid, and I speak from experience, that we do not always pray as we ought to. I would like to propose that because we can see everything going on, we take the time to pray.
In Genesis 16:13 we get the story of Hagar after she runs away. I have read this story many times and it always gets stuck in my head. There are a few reasons for this, but one is that Hagar names God. This is the only time in the Bible that a human names God and it is a pretty big deal. In the Bible, God gives many names for Himself. He self-identifies in all sorts of ways but here Hagar names God the God who sees or El-Roi. She makes this great declaration that He is the God who sees her and that she sees the one who sees her. It is just beautiful.
We can look around at the world and see the panic, fear, and uncertainty and start to worry and become fearful, but we must be like Hagar and remember that God sees too. God sees the world and everything going on and He does not see if from a distance. He sees and cares, but He also wants us to see Him and that is where prayer comes in.
When we pray, we put our eyes on God and focus our attention on Him. We take our eyes off the chaos and fix them on Christ our King. We take the worry and give it to Him. We take fear by the collar and drag it before the King. We take panic and submit it before God in submission. We pray because God sees, and we need to see the one who sees.
If you are on some form of social media, you are aware there is also some new challenge or another going on so here is one; a prayer challenge. I want to challenge you to pray for an hour. Why an hour because it will take work, sacrifice and it will restructure your thinking. I know what you are thinking, and an hour is a long time. Yes, yes, it is. Thankfully there are some great tools to help. One we use and I just finished doing is the prayer wheel or prayer cycle.
It is pretty simple and straight forward. You set a timer for 5 minutes and pray through 12 different steps. After the 5 minutes of 12 steps, you have prayed for an hour. I have an image below but also a quick breakdown with some thoughts.
- Praise – Praise God for who He is and what He has done.
- Waiting – this one can be hard for some people. I like getting on my knees but do what you need. Sometimes I lay down. Just wait on God.
- Confession – this is not just confessing any sins you might need to but confessing who God is. Paul says that we confess that Jesus is Lord (10:9). Confess sins if need be but also confess faith.
- Read the Word – pretty simple and straight forward. For 5 minutes read your Bible. I recommend out loud. I also caution against reading off your phone as there can be distractions.
- Petition – this is asking God for what you need. Be honest and bring things before the King who sees you!
- Intersession – this is praying for others. You will run out of time before you run out of people and things to pray on behalf of.
- Pray the Word – this is finding prayers in the Bible to pray. I like Psalms because it is a prayer book. Pick a Psalm and then read it like a prayer. Psalm 23 is a good one but so is Psalm 31. If you finish before the end of time keeps praying the Psalms.
- Thanksgiving – do we have any shortage of things to be thankful for? Thank God for all that He has done, is doing, and will do.
- Singing – just praises for 5 minutes. I use music but whatever works for you.
- Mediate – think about the things you have read and who God is. Think about Him and who He is. Paul tells us to meditate on the good things of God. Mediate means to think deeply on.
- Listen – this is like waiting. You are expecting God to speak. Maybe He does or maybe He does not but how will you know if you are not listening?
- Praise – we end where we started because God is worthy of praise! Praise God for His goodness, power, love, and so on. Give God the praise He rightfully deserves.
That is it, if you do that then you will have prayed for an hour. You can do a lot of things in an hour but are they all worth doing? I would challenge you to do it today. Take the time today to spend an hour in prayer. Take your eyes off the things in this world for just an hour and see the God who sees you. If for some reason cannot pray for an hour today, then do it tomorrow. Do not wait, do not think you will make time later. Be so determined to pray for an hour and turn your gaze to God that nothing will stop you or hinder you. Be so determined to seek God that you are willing to wake up an hour earlier if you need, whatever you need to do then do it. I beg you to turn your eyes to God and see the God who sees.