'In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. He had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. They lived righteously before God, walking in all his commandments and statues. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were well-advanced in years.
While he was serving as priest before God, according to the custom of the priesthood, Zechariah was chosen by lot to enter into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.' - Luke 1:5-10.
Many of us know this story------an angel of Lord appeared to Zechariah with this message: God will answered his prayer, a prayer that had probably long since been replaced by age and timing. Despite their old years, God was granting the couple a son------whose name would be John, the forerunner (and cousin) of the coming Messiah.
What touched me this morning was reading the last line in the verses above. When Zechariah entered into the temple to pray for his people the Isrealites, a whole multitude gathered outside to join the priest in worship from afar. The mention of this involvement and intermingling is intentional. Because service and prayer are meant to exist simultaneously.
This verses emphasises how significant it is to have friends who will lift one another up through prayer as they serve in uncertain times, at the forefront of home and work. I think of how this applies to the current coronavirus pandemic.
Prayer has the power to shape protective environments where peace, security, discernment and hope touches all those who serve both inside and out (at the front lines of this crises). A list that has grown with the lockdown extension.
Let us pray knowing that God hears our cries, especially in times when divine intervention is needed. Let us pray protection over the mental stamina and physical wellbeing of those we love and rely on: nurses, doctors, government officials, teachers, grocers, parents, children-----let prayer be cyclical in reach. *Will you pray with me now?
Dear Lord Jesus
How heartbreaking and healing it is to read about your sacrifice on the cross. We pray that the story of your resurrection finds our hearts open and willing to grow, even after our Easter celebrations have passed. We pray that your presence would be deeply felt in times of uncertainty, embarassment, boredom, confusion, miscommunication and shame. We trust in the comfort of your embrace.
Let conviction and prayer be the foundation of our dignity, strength and hope. Heaven's price. Heaven's prize. Lord, your faithfulness surpasses all our fear. Would you remind us of your nearness in this time of great anxiety? Would you guide us in wisdom on how to recover from pain we might have experienced in the places we now spend our every waking hour? We ask you for fresh visions on what breakthrough will look like in our lives. Guide us as we wait for clarity on how to move forward, and respond to world.
May our choices and conversations be the overflow of intimacy with you. Fill us afresh with the wonder of your love, power and holiness. Guide our hearts and minds in discernment, as we engage with our faith. God, you know us so well, created us in the image of your perfection and love. Let this reality give us the confidence to come before you in our brokenness.
Behold, you have laid a foundation for our security: a stone, a precious cornerstone sacrifice, Isaiah 28v16. Lord, let your presence soften us to courage and renewedness in who you have made us to be. Intervene in this pandemic and move people to respond o those who are vulnerable and afraid with trespect and sensitivity, Matthew 25v40.
In your name, Amen.