On Friday it was a declaration of a national emergency by President Trump with regard to the coronavirus. On Monday he issued a 15-day guidance and call to the nation to take serious and drastic steps, including: avoiding contact with groups of people larger than ten, urging restaurants and bars and food courts to close, and avoiding all discretionary air travel.
In between Friday and Monday, however, you might have missed the president’s proclamation of a national day of prayer on Sunday. That was formally issued on Saturday. We should stop and take a breath and consider what the president’s proclamation means.
“In our times of greatest need, Americans have always turned to prayer to help guide us through trials and periods of uncertainty,” it begins. That is certainly true. Think back to 9-11 for example. When faced with an attack of major proportions, with thousands dead and a panicking populace – not knowing what lay ahead – the country paused, prayed, and for a moment in time became a nation united in the belief that we were truly a nation “under God.” And that we could call on Him at the precise moment that we felt most helpless and hopeless.
That time quickly passed, however, and we went back to our various tribal camps and lost the connection that a common foe brings. And the connection that comes with prayer to the one true God. What an important lesson we forgot – until now.
The proclamation goes on. “We must not cease asking God for added wisdom, comfort, and strength, and we must especially pray for those who have suffered harm or who have lost loved ones. I ask you to join me in a day of prayer for all people who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and to pray for God’s healing hand to be placed on the people of our Nation.”
That is a spiritual call to action. We need all of it—wisdom, comfort, strength, healing—and it is just as important as test kits, hazmat suits, economic aid and hospital intensive care beds. The White House, Congress and government agencies are run by ordinary humans, who by definition are never going to have the “perfect” response to an unknown enemy, but are reacting to each new bit of scientific knowledge that surfaces on a daily basis. But we Christians should recognize and appreciate the president’s call for prayer.
I don’t know a thing about viruses except what little I remember from a microbiology course I took in college in 1975, which is next to nothing. But I can pray for the people who are at the tip of the spear right now in fighting this virus. And the combined power of prayer works miracles for the workers as well as the victims.
My favorite part of the proclamation was the president’s reminder from Scripture: “We should all take to heart the holy words found in 1 Peter 5:7: ‘Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.’”
If you missed the national day of prayer, don’t worry. You can pray now, today, and each day until the threat passes.
As Focus on the Family President Jim Daly reminded us the other day, “The new and rapidly escalating COVID-19 outbreak has left families with far more questions than answers. As developments unfold hour by hour, it’s important to take a deep breath and remember that the Lord continues to hold dominion over every aspect of creation. Psalm 33:11 says, ‘The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.’”
Pray. Then pray some more. And don’t forget to wash your hands.