What has caught your attention in the last few months? Is it the pandemic—deciding if you should visit with friends, go to church, or even to the market? Is it your finances? Perhaps your income is jeopardized, and you’re worried about paying your bills. Is it politics? With the election drawing closer, everyone has an opinion, especially the news media. Or maybe you’re focused on the violence taking over our cities, the claims of white privilege and racism, and the threat of social assassination.
I admit spending an inordinate amount of time pondering all these issues. Too much time. If I’ve spent any time at all focused on God, it’s been on a personal level—introspection, prayers for health and safety for me and my friends and family, thanking God that I don’t need to worry because He is still in charge.
I’ve been totally distracted.
Last Sunday morning I was brought up short by something one of our pastors said: “Don’t let the corona virus distract you from praying for the world.”
I realized that I’ve been so focused on the headlines, I’ve forgotten what I normally consider of vital importance—“Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Not just in my city, among those I know. Not just in my state, or even in the US, but on earth—everywhere on earth.
That morning, we spent some time as a church praying for Lebanon in the wake of the recent explosion. Specifically, we prayed for a pastor in Beirut. In spite of a severe lack of resources, he and his church minister to Muslim refugees from Iraq and Syria.
Later that day I prayed for various missionaries I know who are weathering all this overseas, in hard places, currently unable to return to the US should they want to. I prayed for Joshua Project’s “Unreached of the Day”—currently various people groups in Pakistan. I prayed that God’s glory would spread over all the earth, that He would be worshiped among every people, in every language.
Quarantines and other restrictions have made it very difficult to travel overseas at this time. But that’s no excuse to focus inward. God knew there were going to be closed borders, and still he said, “Go!” At present, we may not be able to physically go to another country, but we still have options.
We can look for foreign students and workers stranded here in the US, and reach out to them. There are numerous ministries that allow us to befriend foreign students. Those in the country for other reasons are often isolated and likewise in need of a friend.
We can interact with those overseas online as we do with our friends, family, and co-workers at home. We know some retired missionaries who are constantly in touch with the church they planted in western Asia, carrying on their ministry there from here in Colorado.
Last, but certainly not least, we can be present in our prayers. With our attention caught by events at home, we need to be intentional when it comes to thinking and praying globally. I’m determined to turn off the news, put down my phone, and get my mind back on track.
As long as we live in this world, we will deal with pandemics, finances, and politics. Of course those are important topics for prayer. But don’t get so caught up in the temporal that you forget the eternal. What will really matter in 100, 200, or 10,000 years? Reach out to those who don’t know Jesus—who, because of where they live, their culture, and/or the language they speak, can’t know Jesus. In view of eternity, what could be more important?