What to Pray During a Global Pandemic

Sign declaring that the world is closed

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have been infected by novel coronavirus. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and deaths resulting from the illness continue to rise daily in the United States. The reality of COVID-19 is starting to hit closer to home for many of us. Maybe we have a friend, a relative, or a neighbor who has the disease.

Encouragement to Pray

Do you feel powerless in the face of this global health crisis? Let that sense of powerlessness drive you to prayer. The Apostle Paul wrote, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6).

As adopted sons and daughters of God, we have access to the throne room of the King of the universe. He invites our prayers. He’s promised to hear and to answer us when we come to him in Jesus’ name. There’s more we can and should do for those being affected by COVID-19 than pray, but we certainly shouldn’t do less.

How should Christians pray during the COVID-19 crisis?

This isn’t the first time Christ’s Church has faced this kind of situation. We would do well to learn from past generations of believers. Two prayers from early 20th century prayer books model for us how to pray during this crisis.

The first prayer focuses on the sick and the suffering and those close to death.

Holy and mighty Lord, who didst turn back the angel of the plague from the dwellings of Thy people; We beseech Thee to hear our cry for those who are suffering and dying, under the visitation of disease. Mercifully bless the means which are used to stay the spread of sickness, strengthen those who labour to heal and comfort the afflicted, support those who are in pain and distress, speedily restore those who have been brought low, and unto all who are beyond healing, grant Thy heavenly consolation and Thy saving grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Book of Common Worship (1906).

The second prayer acknowledges God’s sovereignty over life and death, pleads for his help, and asks him to make this trial a means of our sanctification.

O ALMIGHTY and merciful God, with whom are the issues of life and death: Grant us, we beseech thee, help and deliverance in this time of grievous sickness and mortality, and sanctify to us this affliction, that in our sore distress we may turn our hearts unto thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Scottish Book of Common Prayer (1929).

Take up these prayers. Make them your own. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16).