The world is reeling from the threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19). For many, our entire way of life has been upended by a novel virus that health experts say presents a particular risk to our elderly and immunocompromised friends and neighbors.
As Christians, we know that one of our greatest spiritual weapons is prayer (Eph. 6:18). But what exactly should Christians pray about amidst these trying times? FRC’s President, Tony Perkins, recently released nine prayer points to guide us in prayer. Each point provides a specific way for Christians to pray during the ongoing crisis.
The New Testament book of James is very practical. Written by Jesus’ close relative, the epistle gives concrete, down-to-earth advice to the Christians scattered throughout the Roman Empire. Throughout the letter, James encourages his readers to put their faith into action by meeting physical needs and serving vulnerable communities. He exhorts his readers to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (1:22). Elsewhere he asks them, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (2:14). James does not undermine the Bible’s teaching of salvation through grace (Eph. 2:8), although he does challenge Christians to live out their faith in tangible ways. As certain industries and people groups begin to feel the effects of quarantining and social distancing, James’ message of active faith becomes even more relevant and timely.
This memorable verse captures James’ heart for the vulnerable: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). In a first-century patriarchal context, widows and orphans were the most vulnerable members of society, which is why James mentions them specifically in his letter. As far as James is concerned, it is pointless for his readers to be well-versed in theology if they fail to show God’s love to those most in need.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, authorities have told us that immunocompromised people (those with medically compromised immunities, including surgery patients, transplant patients, and those with some chronic underlying health conditions) are especially at risk and vulnerable during this time. We should pray for these people, specifically for their protection and health.
Other vulnerable people include those with disabilities and special needs, foster children, and those with health care needs who might be negatively impacted by the present strain on the health care system. We should also pray for the unborn, who remain vulnerable at this time.
Additionally, pray for the elderly, who are at an increased risk of contracting the virus. Many who live in assisted living or nursing homes are unable to leave their apartments or receive visitors for the foreseeable future. Pray that God would comfort and encourage them. Also, pray that local churches would find creative ways to serve the elderly in their communities.
Also, pray for students who are being required to vacate university and college housing with very little notice. While many of them can return home to their families, some cannot, and are scrambling to find alternative accommodations. Pray for international students unable to return to their home countries.
We should also remember to pray for hourly workers in retail, restaurant, hospitality, and service industries. Many have lost their jobs or have seen a dramatic decrease in hours due to the coronavirus. Still others, such as grocery store workers, must continue reporting to work and interacting closely with the public. Pray that God will provide for their needs and that those presently out of work will be able to return to work soon.
Finally, pray for the health care workers and emergency personnel who are all on the front lines of keeping us healthy and safe. Pray that they would have the tools necessary to treat the sick and to protect themselves from getting sick. Pray that they would have health, rest, and encouragement during this stressful time.e.