Praying in distress

March 18, 2020
Norman Yung


During times of distress and trial we are called to pray. Prayer is our strong tether to the one who is sovereign and keeps all things in order when everything around us feels like chaos. Today I reflected on the following verses from scripture (bolded text, mine):

Psalm 18:1–6

I love you, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.

The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of destruction assailed me;
the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called upon the LORD;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.

and Exodus 2:23–24

During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

During these times we may feel like we’re at home… alone… disconnected from others and disconnected from God. I expect when the novelty of video-chatting wears off, we’re going to desire real connection deep in our bones. We’ll begin to recognize what a state we’re in… and we’ll start crying out… and we’ll wonder if anyone’s listening.

Scripture tells us over and over that God is not deaf to our cries. The model from scripture calls us to cry out for God to save. It’s possible we may feel comfortable in our homes and we may think, “I’m fine even while the world is in chaos outside.” But this is a farce.

If there’s anything our current situation has taught us, it’s that we’re more connected than ever. The plight of our neighbors is intimately connected to our own. We cannot “look out for number one” at the expense of our neighbors. So church, we are called to pray.

Pray for our health care professionals that are being swamped right now with work. They are our soldiers on the front lines putting themselves at great risk for the sake of the public. From what I hear from my contacts, they are tired, stressed, and in need of support and prayer.

Pray for our civic leaders who are having to make extremely difficult decisions regarding the welfare of the city. Though we are often quick to criticize, most of us do not bear the weight of responsibility that our leaders face. They need wisdom. Let us pray that God would give our leaders wisdom to know how to navigate the storm we find ourselves in.

Pray for your friends and neighbors. Many of us are anxious and fearful of what’s to come. No matter how many reassuring words we hear, the unrest in our stomachs seems unending. Pray for strength and boldness to overcome fear and panic. Pray also for those who are sick or most at-risk. They are all around us; some are fighting for life right now. God, help us now.

El Roi, the “God who sees,” look upon the distress of your people and rise to action. We need you now more than ever. As our daily comforts are stripped away, help us turn to you and rest in you. Help us to know in our hearts, not just in our heads, that you are the Sovereign Lord. Have mercy upon us. Amen.

King’s Cross Church is a church of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)
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