Prayers for Brothers and Sisters: Typhoon Haiyan, Philippines

Our thoughts, gifts, and prayers go out to our whole Bible brothers and sisters at whatever location Typhoon Haiyan affected them and in whatever way it touched them. Many are friends of this ministry, and we asked (and are asking) the Father for protection, restoration, and blessing through this frightening and trying time in their lives. Material help is on the way, and I pray it is distributed as needed and not gobbled up by the wicked.

Something I cling to in times of difficulty is that God is always working, even though bad things happen to us. It sounds trite but it is still true, that all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose. Appearances can be deceiving, and cause us to lose hope. So some of the words I speak are intended to bolster your hope in Him.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17–18, ESV)

I’ve been praying and asking God for the right words to say here because I want them to be from Him and not just from me. I am not there; I can only imagine the difficulties you are experiencing. In my prayer and search for words for you I kept coming back to Psalm 10. The affliction mentioned there comes from wicked people, but it still applies because many times so-called “natural” disasters are responses from God to wicked men.

Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted. Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”? But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none. The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. (Psalm 10:12–18, ESV)

You have many idolaters around you; many people who are going their own ways unmindful of God and His ways. I cannot say for certain that the typhoon is a direct result, but it seems to me that it is still part of God’s warnings of His coming wrath. Sometimes we must suffer along with the wicked so that not only will we learn from it but that we may also help those who are being commanded to turn back to Him. Repentance is the main goal of events such as this, and hopefully many will see and exchange their wickedness for His righteousness.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3–5, ESV)

Words of encouragement in such a situation can be unintentionally hurtful. But in this format I bring your plight to mind for others. The voices of many lifted to our God, Father and Friend will help push back against any evil intent this disaster might have for you. I pray you have been and will be protected through the trials, and that His blessing will be upon you.

For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever! (Psalm 22:24–26, ESV)

Shalom

I’ll Pray for You

What does it mean to pray for someone?

 

What are they really asking? If an unbeliever asks me to pray for healing for them, will God listen? Does God answer prayer even if we are out of whack with Him? Does someone who claims to be a believer, but ignores God’s righteous decrees, automatically get healing just because they ask? Or is persistent sickness or tragedy a sign of unconfessed sin? Should the believer concentrate on asking for healing, or asking for forgiveness? And is asking forgiveness just to get well, or restore a right relationship with God?

 

The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. (Proverbs 15:29, ESV)

 

Can a divorced believer ask for God to bless their divorce, or the results of divorce (like someone needing a job or day care or something like that)? Or will God only bless something in divorce for one of the people who isn’t at fault? And how do we determine fault?

 

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16, ESV)

 

Can a homosexual ask God to heal them of AIDS though they persist in the behavior? Can he ask for any kind of blessings or reprieve from judgment? Will God hear him if he needs a job? Or rain for his crops?

 

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:12, ESV)

 

Moving on a little from obvious stuff like sexual immorality, how much evil can we get away with before God doesn’t answer, or stops answering, prayer? Is a little disobedience okay? Will the cosmic eraser of Jesus that the church preaches cover any iniquity, so let us sin that grace may abound? How much of His Law (or Word) can we ignore and still expect Him to answer our prayers?

 

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:27–32, ESV)

 

What if He put things in His Law that have spiritual effects, such that we can’t see the connections but they are nonetheless connected? If we eat piles of bacon, for instance, is there a connection to illness? Maybe His Word and the physical and spiritual are more interconnected than we think? We know we can get sick from improperly prepared seafood, but just because there is no immediate affect from properly prepared seafood does that mean it doesn’t harm us?

 

You shall therefore separate the clean beast from the unclean, and the unclean bird from the clean. You shall not make yourselves detestable by beast or by bird or by anything with which the ground crawls, which I have set apart for you to hold unclean. You shall be holy to me, for I the LORD am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine. (Leviticus 20:25–26, ESV)

 

What are the spiritual effects of following His Laws? Is there a spiritual aspect to being sick? Does righteousness make us well? Is harm really random, or is it related to sin? Or is sin like mold on our souls, and the physical reaction is illness? Maybe it’s not just our own sin, either. Is there a spiritual corruption that emanates from other people’s sin and contaminates people around them too, such as is taught in God’s Laws of clean and unclean?

 

But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you (for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean), lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. (Leviticus 18:26–28, ESV)

 

Do we look to doctors first, or do we look to God first? Do we consult the database of His Word in every area of life, before we get sick? Are we taking preventative measures that are recommended by our Heavenly Physician before we consult and believe human doctors who don’t have a place in their worldview for God’s Word? Are we sick because we have a chemical imbalance, or because we have disobeyed?

 

It is possible to be afflicted by God for other reasons than our sin. The book of Job shows us that. Sometimes God afflicts to test us, and sometimes to build trust and obedience. But it is clear from His Word that sin is a big part of health (or lack of it) in many instances. And our heart is the one place where we have control. At the very least we should be aware of the possibility of sin and seek God’s cleansing by confessing and the washing of His Word before we pray for Him to remove the possible by-product of disobedience. It would behoove us to kneel on solid, clean ground every day in constant communion. It might go a long way toward not getting sick in the first place.

Daniel’s Prayer

I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. To us, O LORD, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him. He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem. As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. Therefore the LORD has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the LORD our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice. And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly. “O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.” (Daniel 9:4–19, ESV)