How and What to Pray on This Day of Prayer (and Beyond)

By The Stream Published on March 16, 2020

Today is a national day of prayer, for a world suffering the only pandemic any of us has experienced. How shall we pray? What does it mean to take an extended period of prayer? Here are some ideas that may help you as you pray.

Set Your Heart to Pray

Start by finding a comfortable place to pray, or by kneeling if you can. There is much to pray for, but don’t let it worry you if you find it hard to remain in prayer for a long period of time. Prayer — real prayer — is hard work, and it’s okay if it feels like hard work. Just take a break when you need one, and return to praying later on.

Here’s a suggested opening prayer. (If you’re praying in a group, adjust the wording to fit, but allow time for individuals to pray prayers of confession.)

God, thank you that no matter what goes on in the world, your love and grace are constant. Please calm my heart, and turn my attention to you during this time of prayer. Let me listen to you. If I have been harboring any sin in my heart, I ask you to reveal it to me so I may confess it and receive your forgiveness, according to 1 John 1:9, and proceed with a clean and ready heart. [This would be a good time to pause and let the Lord search your heart.] Guide me, Lord, as I pray.

Suggested Bible reading: Psalms 16, 23, and 34 contain good teachings and prayers to read from Scripture in a time like this.

Regarding Church: Many of us will be missing church today because live worship services have been canceled. Many churches have online options. One way or another, be sure to find someplace to participate, either in person or else virtually.

Pray for Grace, Hope and Courage

Pray and ask the Lord to make us all ready in spirit to face this challenge. Start by praying yourself and your family, then other loved ones. Let your prayers expand to include your city, state or province, your nation, and the world. Ask God to give us all hope in Him. We all have important work to do in a time like this, especially medical workers, but God is our only ultimate hope.

Pray specifically also for courage, for calm, and peace in our hearts, and for peace between persons. Pray especially for children to maintain calm. Pray that families will live in harmony with kids and (in many cases) adults staying home.

Pray that we can all find ways in our homes to build and strengthen good relationships. Pray that we’ll find ways to stay happy, joyful, and productive; and even to find appropriate entertainment during these strange days of increased isolation.

Pray for lonely persons isolated by the virus, in nursing homes, in quarantine, and in medical isolation.

Pray for spiritual leaders and others leading us through this hard time, that they’ll have wisdom to lead well.

Pray that the nations will remain at peace.

Pray for Health

Pray for those who have taken sick, for their full and successful recovery. Ask God to give their family members and medical caregivers wisdom and patience, and protection from catching the virus themselves.

Pray for elderly persons you know, and for people with conditions that would increase their risk if they catch the virus. Ask God to give them special protection.

Pray that the contagion would slow quickly, locally, nationally, and globally.

Pray for the Medical World

Pray for God to guide those who are working on medical answers to the pandemic. Pray for quick, safe, effective, affordable solutions. Let your prayers include everyone from researchers working on vaccines and treatments, to those who are deciding what work to fund (and how much), to those who are making hard decisions on regulations regarding activities, travel, and so on, to manage the spread of the virus.

Pray especially for Vice President Mike Pence and the coronavirus task force in the U.S., and/or for other similar leadership efforts in your own country.

Pray for Schools, for Workers, and for the Economy

Lift up students in your prayers, that they’ll be able to continue their educations successfully even if they can’t attend classes. Pray for teachers and administrators scrambling to transition to online teaching systems.

Ask God to help workers who have to stay home with their children, and those whose incomes are being reduced because of the virus’s effects on commerce.

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Pray that supply chains can remain open, and that shortages will ease. Ask God to guide government leaders and the Fed (and other national banks) in dealing with stresses on the economy.

Pray With Faith and Thanksgiving

Give God thanks that He is great enough and good enough to turn tragedy into joy, just as He did with Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. Ask Him for the faith to trust Him with what we cannot understand.

And pray that this might even cause many to turn to God for perhaps the first time, and find faith and hope in Jesus Christ, who loves us all with an everlasting love.


Please feel free to share more prayer requests in the comments.

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Salt and Light
Robert Jeffress
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