Mobilising, training and equipping Christians for prayer

Recently there was a post on social media that said, “Mr President we will rather take back the load shedding, but please end the lockdown, we want to be free again…”

It reminds one of the Israelites in Numbers 11 where they complained to Moses. They have just been freed from a 400 year-long slavery in Egypt with great signs and wonders. Now that they encountered some challenges, they forgot all about God’s provision and just complained like children. Their greatest request was the cravings of the flesh, despising even manna – food from heaven! Even the disciples, after Jesus’ crucifixtion and death, went back to fishing! Throughout the ages, people have been like that – always finding new reasons to complain, even yearning for less than ideal circumstances of the past!

Since the COVID-19 lockdown started in South Africa, we have all gone through different emotional, spiritual and also physical phases. We have experienced difficulties, breakthroughs and challenges. We may have become upset and offended, and then again made peace and forgave. We may have faced different levels of fear about the virus and contracting it, about our finances, whether there will be enough food for everyone, job security and finally now, uncertainty about what the future holds.

Most have settled into the ‘new normal’ of restrictions, such as having to wear a mask and queue outside stores to meet government requirements for COVID-19. Thousands are employed full-time as essential workers. The bulk of SA citizens though, are homebound.

The question arises now, what are we doing with the unusual opportunities we have during this time? Continuous and healthy introspection and review are important in the life of a Christian. We must ask the Holy Spirit to show us the true condition of our hearts, our true spiritual maturity and also the level of true discipline in our own lives. Such introspection grants us another opportunity to adjust our lives. Even to set right the wrongs that God may be showing us in our own lives or families. No one wants to emerge from the final stages of lockdown unchanged.

How will you emerge from the lockdown?

Some will come out grieving, having lost a loved one or friend. Some will miss the simplicity of life under lockdown. Some may come out having done around the house what they set out to do or having read the books they wanted. For each person there may also be thoughts of regret, having missed out on opportunities that the lockdown presented them with.

Scripture reading: John 2:24-25 – But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.

If one thing, lockdown has certainly shown us the condition of our hearts; some good, some bad, and some ugly. Consider the following in application to your life and ask the Holy Spirit to show you the condition of your own heart.

 Consider you heart

1. Time in the Word.Often people say that everyday life is too busy to find time to read their Bible. Do not come to the end of lockdown – having had much more time available than before – and find:
“I regret to say that the real reason I don’t read my Bible is that I do not have a real hunger and thirst to hear what God says to me.”

2. Time in prayer.Many say they would love to have more time to pray. With all the time in the world given us the past months, did you really spend as much time in prayer as you desired? Do not come to the end of lockdown and find:
“I regret to say that I replaced one busy lifestyle with another and found new reasons why I could not pray more. Although I have many other disciplines I keep diligently, I do not have the same commitment towards cultivating a disciplined prayer life.”

3. Too distracted. Everyday life presents us with many challenges and people often long just to ‘slow down’, have less stress, rest and focus on important things like their family relationships and God. Do not come to the end of lockdown and find:
“I regret to say that my fears shifted from one focus area to another. Now I am anxious about other things. I realise that I need to deal with fear itself, regardless of my circumstances. My fears are not as surrendered to the Lord as I want them to be.”

4. Giving less than you thought. Normally we are so busy that we feel we give a lot by doing small things at church. Do not come to the end of lockdown and find:
“I regret to say that I spent more time watching online movies and series than reaching out to others by giving them a call or being involved in outreach and feeding programmes in the nation. My only contribution to the situation was to forward messages and spend lots of time on social media.”
While there is still time, ask the Holy Spirit what you can do to make a real difference within the bounds of your circumstances.

5. Cravings speak.Lockdown has stripped away from us the comfort of a daily routine. What do you miss the most right now? Do not come out of lockdown and find:
“My life before lockdown consisted of travelling, sport, shopping, socialising and eating out, and as soon as this is over, I am going back to life as before.” Ask the Lord to show you what He wants your life to look like from now onwards.

6. Giving it a last chance. Sit down with the Lord and consider these and other questions He may ask you. How sincere is your desire to follow God? How much of your relationship with Him depends on what He can do for you? Do you feel rejected or offended when you do not get what you want and when you want it? These are the questions we need to ask ourselves to discover and deal with the true condition of our hearts. Start at the first question again and speak to the Lord from the bottom of your heart. Make right what is wrong between you and Him. Ask Him where to start today, what He wants you to do and how to walk with Him circumspectly.

One last thought

Some will look back on the lockdown with a deep sense of regret at having missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow closer to God. Do not let that happen to you. Establish the discipline of seeking God now, while there is still time.

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