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Praying Like a Centurion

Posted by Sherman Chau on

What can a first-century Roman centurion teach us about adapting to life during the pandemic? Lots.


Image by Ginosphotos via Megapixl

Among the many feelings and frustrations during the Coronavirus and the preventive measures is the feeling of being stuck and powerless, especially if we want to get out there and be of some help to someone somewhere. We can’t travel for missions and outreach and we can’t gather in large groups for ministry.

The story of the centurion’s faith in Matthew 8:5-13 should remind us that social distancing, travel bans or limiting group sizes, none of these prevents or limits God’s miraculous power. And hopefully, this gives us a bit of hope.

A centurion (a military leader, like a captain today) comes to ask Jesus to heal his paralyzed servant, who is lying at home. Jesus offers to go to the centurion’s home to heal him, and the centurion says: “Lord, I do not deserve to have You come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.”

His reply shows his understanding that Jesus doesn’t have to be there physically to perform the miracle. Jesus commends his faith and says to him, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.”

Prayer is powerful. I know this may seem like the most rudimentary kid’s Sunday School lesson. But maybe during this time of the pandemic, at a time when we feel powerless or limited, we need to be reminded about the power of prayer.

Praying in faith and knowing that our prayers are not limited by geography or distance remind us that it’s really not about us. If Jesus didn’t need to be physically present to help someone, then we don’t have to either. Our prayers bond us with God’s will to move His hand to work in the lives of others to help them, heal them and save them.

Praying in faith also reminds us to think of others, which can help us avoid spiralling downward if we’re too focused on ourselves only.

In this season when we are limited in travel, keep your intercessory prayer life strong. Check-in with your friends and family and ask how you can pray for them.

The key ingredient in all this is faith. This is what astonished Jesus about the centurion’s attitude (“I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.”)

Let’s pray for others and for our city with a centurion’s faith.


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