1 Timothy 2:1 (NLT)
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.”
I started this mini-project months ago when I had an inkling to write about my spiritual experiences throughout the pandemic. Unfortunately, my website had some issues, and I have been subjected to various hacking and security-compromising attacks. Until now, I am somewhat livid as to how they happened. Yet I desire composure, and if it had to leave me starting from the bottom, it should the be the way.
I am writing this as our city, Iloilo starts another period of suffering and struggle. After months of somewhat enjoying a more accessible approach with the COVID-19 lockdowns, we were suddenly placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), more heightened than the modified classification we had just a day prior.
It was marked with various reactions online. Most people analyzed the issue due to our Mayor’s rant about how local governments from the provinces are often disregarded in being informed about restrictions compared to those in the capital. At the same time, the failure in communicating the issue well erroneously issued the lockdown on a later date, then redacting the statement and clarifying that the classification will start that day.
The clamor and the issue are understandable. As much as the lockdowns are placed to protect the people, citizens also have economic needs that are not met easily when restrictions are provided. More so, the country has been under the most extended lockdown in the world with no sign of decreasing the cases with a looming spread of another more communicable variant. While vaccination rollouts remain to be underway, targets for herd immunity remain to be desired.
The isolation has brought me to listen to various sources of inspiration, one of which is the daily morning prayer of the Canterbury Cathedral led by the Dean. A part of the service includes the Lord’s prayer, a constant reminder of how a Christian’s attitude towards praying should be.
A great part of the prayer taught by Jesus is petitioning God for our own benefit. Asking for supplication through mentioning our daily bread is beseeching God’s grace for our personal needs.
Yet Paul’s letter to Timothy speaks about interceding for others, praying to God to supply them for their needs. Moreover, the exciting part is that this is the part in which Paul explicitly instructs the young pastor about how worship should be. The first part that he said was to forget oneself instead of placing others’ needs before yours as you approach God in prayer.
Is this contradictory to what Jesus has taught? I see where some believers dismiss Paul as an apostle come from as he is seemingly changing the messages of Christ. But he follows up on the Savior’s instructions, taking it further to expand the message. It would also be wise to understand that Jesus was making an example about how to pray, and His usage of the word “our” would signify a collective idea. Also, the very first part of the prayer does the “forgetting oneself” formula by declaring God’s glory above all else.
In times of turmoil such as this, it is natural for humans to disregard others and magnify personal needs. While this is natural, it sometimes falls into an ‘us-vs-them situation and divides us more. Accountability is essential, and we should desire and call for that. But as an act of worship, I think it would also help to pray for each other, devoting to serve one another, and unite to survive the pandemic as God enables. Amen.