A Prayer For The Sick And Suffering
Preface: this Sunday past I was asked to prepare an intercessory prayer for those who are sick and suffering in my local church. Like the many brothers and sisters who have gone before us, the great cloud of witnesses, this season is one of wrestling with God’s sovereignty and extensive human suffering. It is undoubtedly a time of confusion and uncertainty. This makes knowing how to pray difficult, sometimes confusing. Because no one has been untouched by the pandemic, I hope that this prepared prayer will be a useful guide for those wanting to bring their own needs and the needs of others to our heavenly Father.
Prayer Using Lamentations 3 And The Belgic Confession
In Lamentations 3:31-33 we read that, “The Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.”
Father, like the writer of Lamentations, we are in a period of “grief” and “affliction.” Many of us are sick. And all of us know people who are. Our world seems out of control, COVID-19 is rampant and everyone has been affected by it. Thus we find it incredibly difficult to accept let alone admit that even now you are in control; that in the present pandemic you are working—in the words of Romans 8:28—all things towards your own purposes and the good of those who love you.
‘We believe that you, our good God, after creating all things, did not abandon them to chance or fortune but lead and govern them according to your will, wisdom, and purposes. This means that nothing happens in this world without your orderly arrangement. Yet, at the same time, we rush to affirm that you are not the author of, and cannot be charged with, the sin that occurs. For your power and goodness is so great and incomprehensible that you arrange and do your works very justly. So we do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what you do that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend.’
But we do want to plead for the many lives that have been impacted by this pandemic. We want to pray especially for the sick, for those suffering either physically and mentally. We cling to the promise that you, “will not cast off forever…though you cause grief you will have compassion.” Be merciful to those who are suffering. And, as many of us have prayed throughout the past year and a half, help us to entrust ourselves and our world to your wise, sovereign, and gracious care.
Lamentations 3 tells us that you abound “in steadfast love.” So even now we appeal to that love, that through it you would preserve not only life but faith. That you would restore both health and the confidence that you can be trusted, even when we do not understand the situation that surrounds us.
‘In all humility and reverence, may we we adore your just judgments, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ’s disciples.’ Comfort us through teaching us, “that nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father, who watches over us with fatherly care, sustaining all creatures under his lordship, so that not one of the hairs on our heads—for they are all numbered—nor even a little bird can fall to the ground without the will of our Father [Matthew 10:28-30].”
In all the uncertainty, teach us to trust in you. Again, for all the sick we entreat you and ask for healing, for your comfort and special presence. Throughout the seeming collapse of so much that we thought was fixed and reliable, draw us to you who are in control and powerful, steadfast in love. Amen.