Just recently we have received a recording of our Prime Minister, Mr. Morrison, praying concerning the Coronavirus scare. Some people have commented to me that he must be truly saved because he prayed.
I am afraid that I am a bit skeptical in pronouncing someone saved because he said a prayer in a time of difficulty. I do not mean to judge Mr. Morrison’s sincerity or spiritual condition, but the claim that prayer, on its own, is sufficient to pronounce a person as a true Christian.
History in the Bible is full of the prayers and practices of people, who claim to repent, pray and turn from their sins, yet when godly influence, or their trials are removed, they run back to their sinful ways.
The Book the Judges records seven cycles of the practice of Israel. They began as faithful to God, then turned from God into compromise and sin. God then brought judgement upon them whereby they were overcome by enemy nations for many years. In repentance, Israel cried out to God for deliverance. In answer to their cries, God sent them a deliverer, or Judge, to lead them into battle against their enemies and gain victory. They then enjoyed years of peace, before they again turned from God into compromise and sin, fell into judgement, and cried out for help from God again.
King Hezekiah was the godly son of wicked king, Ahaz. He turned his nation around to destroy idolatry and worship God. Under his leadership, Judah stood firmly by faith against the threat of the Assyrian invasion. In response to their faith, God destroyed the Assyrian army by killing 185,000 mighty men in one night. Judah became an internationally recognized force overnight. When Hezekiah died, his son Manasseh took the throne and easily led the nation back to such a corrupt practice of sin, that God declared He would destroy Judah, and send them into captivity.
In the time of King Josiah, a scroll the Book of Deuteronomy was found, which revealed that Judah was under great judgement from God because of their many sins. Josiah turned the whole nation around to repent and worship God. Idolatry was destroyed, the temple was repaired and worship of God reinstituted. The Passover feast was held with such zeal, that there was none like it for over 600years from the time of the Judges. As a result, the judgement of God was held back. When King Josiah died, His ungodly son took the throne, and the whole nation turned their backs on God and lived in sin and extreme wickedness.
I am sure that people around the world are rushing to God, or to the “god of their own understanding,” and are professing repentance from their sinful, neglectful ways, and are promising to be absolutely obedient from now on if only he would remove the Coronavirus. History has shown us, for the most part, that when the trial was removed, the people returned to their sinful ways.
True prayer to God does not say, “If you do something for me, then I will be faithful to you.” True prayer says, “I will be faithful to you, no matter what the outcome may be.” If it is God’s will that the Coronavirus remains, then so be it. If this plague serves to bring glory to God, then let it remain. If God wants to fulfil His purpose via this virus, then let virus remain till God’s purpose be fulfilled. The prayer of a true repentant always ends with, “Not my will, but thine be done.”
Paul prayed to God to heal him of a physical “thorn in the flesh.” God said, No! “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul’s response was, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me,” 2 Corinthians 12:9.
The prophet, Habakkuk, prayed to God against the Babylonian threat upon Judah. The Babylonians were brutal, merciless, wicked and idolatrous people. All in Judah, men, women, children and babies, stood to be destroyed and suffer greatly under their siege. God replied that the Babylonian army was His instrument of judgement upon His sinful, backsliding people, and that it was His will for them to be taken into captivity. Habakkuk, knowing the great suffering and hardship destined upon his people that would come from the Babylonians, but knowing that it was God’s will, prayed:
“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; and the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.” Habakkuk 3:17-19
The Coronavirus, nor the response of the world governments, or the fear instilled by the media, is not the problem that true Christians face today. The problem is “Do you want God’s will, or your own will?” If God wants the trial to remain, He will give grace to bear it. If He removes the trial, be sure that there will be another trial following. There will always be trials for as long as we live. We don’t need temporary reprieve from our difficulties. We need grace not only to bear them, but even to learn contentment despite them, for as Paul testified,
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13
True pray seeks the glory of God, not the removal of trials.
Pastor Sam Joukhadar