It’s easy: you turn on CNN or you spend an hour watching Fox News, and before you know it, you’re in one of two places. Panic is setting in or indifference is taking root. The reality, though, is people are hurting and there’s more to come. There’s reason to be concerned and there’s even more reason to pray.
Prayer and wise decision-making is what will carry us through the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic as it begins to spread across our country.
The goal here, as many of you have already learned, is to “flatten the curve” — to spread out the number of likely infections from this novel coronavirus so our hospitals and clinics won’t be overrun, forcing those in need of critical care (for COVID-19 or anything else) from receiving it.
Doing that involves taking seriously the calls for social distancing, which is avoiding any unnecessary travel or gatherings, embracing frequent hand-washing, and, outside of seeking medical care, remaining quarantined if you begin to experience symptoms of any kind.
So how should Christians pray?
President Donald Trump has declared Sunday a National Day of Prayer as we face this pandemic. But it’s important we continue to pray in the days and weeks to come, as we learn more about COVID-19 and its impacts on our society.
Here are five things we can pray for:
Pray for those currently infected with COVID-19
Lord, we pray you will bring healing to those suffering from this virus. We know you value our physical health just as you care for our spiritual health. During his time on earth, Jesus cared about every aspect of our humanity — from our spiritual wellbeing to our physical strength. We pray those who are ill will experience your healing power through the hands of medical personnel and wise decision-making, taking away fear and anxiety from those who are sick. We ask, too, that you guard against loneliness for those who are quarantined as they recover. Protect the families and friends of those who might come into contact with loved ones who have this virus.
Pray for those in high-risk communities
Heavenly Father, we lift up our grandparents, our parents, our aunts and our uncles, as well as those we love who might be immunocompromised in our communities — for those who have undergone treatment for cancer, for those with diabetes, or who suffer from asthma or heart disease. Please place your hedge of protection around them and instill within us a sense of just how important it is to look out for the most vulnerable among us during this pandemic. Ease the fears and worries of those who are at higher risk of infection and fill them with supernatural peace.
Pray for medical personnel and caretakers
Dear Jesus, we ask that you provide rest for those who are working in our hospitals, medical clinics, and in the telemedicine industry. Give them wisdom as they care both for those who are infected with this virus and for people impacted by other health concerns. Protect them from becoming ill themselves and ease their anxieties as they seek to care also for their own loved ones during this time.
Pray for our leaders and health experts
God, we ask that you convict our national, state, and local leaders to act wisely as we learn more about the coronavirus pandemic, setting aside any political interests. We pray that you will grant them vigilance as this issue continues to evolve. We ask, too, that you will help us to trust you are in control and have appointed our leaders for such a time as this.
Pray for the spread of the Gospel
Dear Lord, we know that you are all powerful, that nothing happens outside of your knowledge and that what was intended for evil you will use for good. We pray that will be the case with this illness. More than anything, God, give us a heavenly and eternal perspective: help us to understand the importance of being wise and thoughtful members of the body of Christ right now, helping to meet the needs of those around us, those who are less fortunate and in need during this pandemic. We ask that you inspire our pastors to speak into this cultural moment, offering hope in troubled times. Above all, Lord, we pray that, through this, more people will learn about Jesus.
It’s important for us to follow the advice of the medical experts over us, both nationally and locally. Social distancing, self-quarantining when necessary, and increasing our hygiene care really matters. Those who are, like me, younger and healthy, can unwittingly pass this virus onto those who are at greater risk of serious illness, so it’s important to act wisely at this time.
Ultimately, though, we have eternal hope. God is not surprised nor is He unprepared for what we are facing today. We will get through this together, and prayer and wise decision-making is going to make the difference.
I’ll leave you with Psalm 121:
I look up to the mountains — does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.