Recently, I received an email containing this coronavirus prayer: “Coronavirus, I rebuke you in Jesus’ name. I cast you out. Be gone. Lord, protect us from Covid-19. Loose your healing upon us. Deliver us. Cover us with the blood of Jesus. The Bible says that by his stripes, we are healed. So, we call on your healing powers today. Heal us all. Thank you for hearing our plea; in Jesus’ name. Amen.” The email asked me to pray this prayer and pass it along, which I’m doing — with this important PS: God will absolutely answer this prayer — as we act with God to make it so.
Sometimes you pray about things that are beyond your control: You pray asking God to help a friend make the right choice. You can talk with your friend, encouraging him to do the right thing – and God will speak to your friend through the Holy Spirit, encouraging him to do the right thing. But: God respects human freedom, and God isn’t going to force anyone to do anything. What others choose to do – or not – is ultimately up to them. We can’t control them – and God won’t force them. Sometimes you pray about things that are beyond your control.
Sometimes you pray about things you can control. You ask God to help you forgive someone who has hurt you. Forgiving someone who doesn’t deserve to be forgiven is hard, but it’s a choice we can make. We often need help doing that, but when we ask God to help us forgive, we can trust that God will. God always helps us do what God has asked us to do. Sometimes we pray about things we can control.
Then there are times when we pray about things we can’t control, but which we can influence. We can’t control the outcome, but we can influence the outcome. When a couple is expecting, they can pray: “Lord, help this child be born healthy.” That’s a good prayer; one we can trust God to answer. And part of the answer God is going to bring about through us: Through expectant mothers eating right; getting proper prenatal care; and following doctor’s orders. Expectant dads can also actively help the pregnancy go well. There are some situations that are beyond our control, but within our ability to influence. In these situations, God will answer our prayers through both God’s help and our help.
This pandemic is one of those situations. When the Black Death swept through Europe, medieval people could only pray. They knew nothing about science, viruses, or hygiene. Thank God, in this pandemic we have the facts. We know exactly the cause of Covid-19. We know how it spreads, and we know how to stop it.
We’re horrified by the death toll, and we’re scared. But we have hope. We have God, who will help us. And we know exactly what to do to work with God to cast out the coronavirus.
We can work with God by wearing a mask. We can work with God by socially distancing ourselves. We can work with God by obeying the civil authorities who rightly instruct us what we must do to live.
We can work with God by calling our representatives and asking them to ensure that everyone has the resources they need to live. Calling them is part of the answer to the prayer in which we call down God’s healing powers. God is counting on us to do what we can do to work with God to defeat Covid-19.
When Jesus healed the ten lepers, he didn’t just “miracle” them well. No. They had to participate with Jesus in the miracle he wanted to give them. When they pleaded for healing, Jesus said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. As they went; as they did what Jesus told them to do; as they obediently, faithfully participated in the miracle Jesus was doing for them and with them, they were healed.
Our prayer is to be free from Covid-19. That’s God’s prayer, too. But for that prayer to be answered; for that healing to happen, we have to work with God to make it happen. God freed the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt, but it was up to them to walk with God to get to the Promised Land. So, too, we must walk and work with God. As we do, we can trust that God will make the way as we make the effort.
God is counting on us to listen to medical experts – not quacks and conspiracy theories. God expects us to use the brains God gave us to act wisely. To ignore scientists and dismiss what epidemiologists tell us to do is to put God to the test.
If I jaywalk into the middle of heavy traffic, praying: “Lord, protect me,” God’s answer – now and always – is this: “I will protect you — as you use the crosswalk – like you’re supposed to.”
The good news is that God is at work right now to save us from Covid-19: Through researchers working on a vaccine; through essential workers daily working with God to care for us; through good leaders who tell us the truth and who work to help us all. So, let us all get with the program by praying to God and acting with God to co-create the miracle that is going to kick Covid-19 to the curb. As we do, our prayers will be answered and God’s will will be done.