Pray Together: Topical Prayer Guide on COVID-19 From The Stream

By The Stream Published on April 22, 2020

With varying opinions on the coronavirus and the effects of the shutdown coming from family, friends and the media, there’s a lot to process. I know I’ve felt overwhelmed. What do I think? How do I respond? How do I pray? But I’m not overwhelmed with my own circumstances. For those who are, the questions of this season are far more pressing, and the prayers more fervent.

Regardless of how we feel or what we’re facing, we can together look to the Holy Spirit, Scripture, and our brothers and sisters in Christ to strengthen us as we pray. Let’s join in unity as we ask God for help, seek to partner with God in prayer and giving, and submit ourselves to what He’s doing in this time.

Here’s a topical prayer guide we’ve put together. It pieces together what God has put on each of our hearts. We hope it spurs you on in godly concern, faith and prayer.

— Aliya Kuykendall and the editors at The Stream

Economic Turmoil

The response to COVID-19 both in the U.S. and around the world has put us in uncharted territory economically. According to the most recent jobs report, 22 million American have lost their jobs — just in the last month! That is by far the worst four-week decline in jobs in American history. In fact, it’s about five time greater than the second worst four-week period.

And the longer the shutdown continues, the more Americans will either lose their jobs or have hours cut back. And massive joblessness at some point will lead to crime and unrest.

Anyone who has lost a job knows how stressful it can be, especially if you have children. It’s not about dollars and cents. It’s about whether you’ll have enough to feed, cloth, and house your children, and to care for them if they get sick. The economy matters because people matter.

Those of us who still have jobs need to look out for friends and neighbors who are suffering. We need to pray for them, but our prayers should not replace concrete action. If you’re praying for God to provide food or rental money for your neighbor, don’t be surprised if God wants to use you to deliver such provision.

Here’s a good prayer to help us remember that when we ask God for help, he often responds by asking us to participate:

Merciful God, We ask that you give our leaders the wisdom to guide our nation and the world out of the current economic crisis.  Help us to protect the poor and all those who are struggling during this difficult time. Provide for their needs and give them hope. Open new opportunities for them and furnish the resources they need to live with dignity. Encourage those who have enough to share essential resources with those who lack the necessities of life, and to do so with humble, grateful and loving hearts. We ask this through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

— Jay Richard, Executive Editor

Wisdom for Our Leaders

In Romans 13:1 we learn “The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Later in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Paul urges, “first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

The concept is simple: God has placed people in position of authority and we have to have their back in prayer and intercession. That has rarely been truer than in this hour. Yes, we always want our leaders to rule with godly wisdom. But today, they need to rule with godly wisdom, on the fly, in a nearly unprecedented situation, with data changing by the moment, with the lives and livelihood of millions on the line, not just now, but with consequences lasting decades.

This is a burden no pair of human shoulders can be expected to bear … not without God and the fervent prayers of the faithful. Not without pointed, specific intercession. We are also to be thankful for those placed in authority and prepared in advance. (And I don’t mean “Thank God I don’t have to make the decisions.”)

Take President Trump. Dr. Deborah Birx says “I think his ability to analyze and integrate data that comes out of his long history of business has really been a real benefit during these discussions about medical issues.” Take Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He grew up in state government.

So, Lord, we petition you to grant leaders here and abroad supernatural wisdom. We pray they will seek your guidance and be kept safe from the virus. We intercede, in the name of Jesus Christ, against all weapons of the enemy directed at those you’ve chosen to lead through this crisis. And we stay thankful, that You have your hands on our nation, and have prepared, in advance, those tasked with this enormous and difficult work.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

— Al Perrotta, Managing Editor

Mental Health

Depression is the number one disability in the world for those aged 15-44. During the coronavirus, more people are reaching out for help than ever before. There’s been an 891% increase to The Disaster Distress Helpline over March 2019. People are hurting. But there is hope through Christ.

I know because I’ve struggled with depression for years. Nothing changes the mood more than worship music. It’s hopeful and reminds me that God is still in control. He always walks with me through what seems like an impossible situation.

King David knew depression and anxiety intimately. Two of his Psalms address what some are feeling in this pandemic. They help me to hang onto my sanity during the coronavirus.

Psalm 5:11
But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

Psalm 30:10-12
Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.”
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

The Lord has said that He will never leave or forsake us. Let us hold onto the truth that we are not alone.

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for each person struggling with depression during this time that seems so isolating. We know You are with us. Let us hold onto you with all we have and praise You, even during a dark season. Lift our soul with your healing power. Give us joy that only a relationship with You provides. Protect us, Oh Lord, and heal us, mind, body and soul. In Your Holy name I pray. Amen.

— Nancy Flory, Associate Editor

Facing Down Wrath

We’re all dealing with powerful feelings during this national crisis. Locked up in our homes. With the very same people. All the time.

Our friends and fellow citizens are suffering. Bad actors in governor’s mansions are exploiting the situation and abusing their power. Media sneer, distort, and hector worse than ever.

Tempting, isn’t it, to bubble over with Wrath? Not merely human anger, but Wrath like God’s.

The Fall darkened our reason and shriveled our wills. It made every emotion in our repertoire vulnerable to abuse. Hard to control. A likely source of sin.

It’s a great temptation, to think we have the right to Wrath, which is proper only to God. We see people doing and saying things which really are evil. And we hate such evils, which is good. But the author of evil, ever at our elbow, tempts us to go further. He urges us to see the people themselves as evil incarnate. As things we should destroy. As demons the world must be rid of.

In a flash, the Enemy has turned our zeal for the House of God into a simmering, serious sin that’s all our own.

I wrote a whole book, The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins, on how to pursue the Golden Mean between opposing deadly sins. Central to that is prayer. A simple prayer that we can repeat to ourselves, over and over, to get over the hump of a spell of Wrath is this one:

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart more like yours.

It’s short, simple, and easy to wheeze in and out with every angry breath as you pound your fist on the table. Pretty soon, He’ll calm you down, and help you know what to do.

— John Zmirak, Senior Editor

Spiritual Confusion

Crises can either sharpen or dull our spiritual senses. We can either pray to be even more in tune with Him as He does whatever unusual work He has in mind for this hard period, or we can start to lose sight of His constant goodness.

Even grief can draw us closer to God, but loss and worry can also take us into a dark place of bitterness and resentment. This really represents confusion about who God is, His purpose in each of our lives, as He works to build us up in love, faith, patience, kindness, and joy. As we learn from passages like James 1:2-4, Romans 5:1-5, and especially Hebrews 12:1-11, God has good things in mind for us, even when hard times come. He’s still a good God, no matter what happens.

God, please grant us the grace to see You clearly in this time of crisis. Let us know and trust in your goodness, even when it’s so much less obvious to human view. May this be a time when we grow in love, faith, joy, and patience. May we never forget the depth of Your love, as you showed it through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Tom Gilson, Senior Editor

Civil Liberties

As we face threats to our civil liberties during this pandemic, it’s a good time to ponder what the Bible says about this matter. The Declaration of Independence declares, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were written based on Judeo-Christian principles. The spiritual liberty proscribed by the Bible leads to greater expressions of civil and religious liberty. The Bible is very clear that God’s law proscribes freedom. If it is followed, people will be blessed and judged accordingly.

James 1:25 states, But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it — not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it — they will be blessed in what they do.”

Similarly, James 2:12 provides, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom.”

During this traumatic pandemic, we must be very careful about restricting civil liberties. Now is not the time to ignore wisdom from the Bible.

Dear Lord, I pray that our leaders will have the wisdom to respect our inherent freedoms, balancing them appropriately against emergency measures that need to be taken. There is a path some religious leaders have taken in one of these areas, holding church services in cars in church parking lots in order to comply with social distancing requirements. I pray for more solutions like this.

— Rachel Alexander, Senior Editor

Healing, Physically and Spiritually

Worldometer reports there are 679,970 active cases in the U.S. as of Tuesday.

Psalm 91 declares that the Lord is our refuge from deadly pestilence and plague. Isaiah 53 says of the then-coming Messiah that by his bloody stripes, we are healed. In this season following Passover, the festival on which Jesus was slain, we continue to trust in the blood of Jesus, our Passover lamb, to shield us.

We also know from Haggai 2 and Hebrews 12 that at times God shakes the earth, even “all nations,” for the sake of “removing of what can be shaken — that is, created things — so that what cannot be shaken may remain.” Even when our sense of normal, our finances or our health are being shaken, we know that “we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” Let us pray that many hearts, including our own, will turn from the comforts this world offers and become dependent on God, the true source of life. 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 tells us that if God sends pestilence, and we humble ourselves, pray, seek God and repent, then He will hear us, forgive us and heal our land.

Jesus, we plead your blood over our sins and the sins of our nation. We thank you for the healing power of your blood and suffering for us. In faith we receive your work on the cross for us.

We ask that you would have mercy on our nation and heal those who are suffering. For those who are fighting for their lives, and for those with less severe cases, may their bodies be strengthened and fight off the virus.

We thank you for giving wisdom and protection to medical staff, and specifically for wisdom for an effective treatment.

We ask that You would comfort those who are suffering from this virus or its impact on the economy. May many turn to You as their source of provision for all they need, certainty in these uncertain times, hope and life. Amen.

— Aliya Kuykendall, Staff Writer

 

How are you praying during this time? What verses are you leaning on for wisdom and guidance? What challenges are you facing? How can we be praying for you? Let us know in the comment section below.

CALL TO ACTION:

COVID-19 is causing massive disruptions in life. The Stream’s parent organization, LIFE Outreach International, is helping send a first wave of help.

LIFE’s local mission partners are already distributing thousands of surgical masks, gloves and other sanitary supplies to first responders, hospitals and nursing homes. In addition, other partners have focused on distributing as many meals as possible to help those who need food.

You can help with these efforts. Click here to donate.

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