Last week, paramedics came for my elderly neighbor across the street as my kids and I watched helplessly from our front window. They donned masks and tied each others’ long blue gowns closed. “Why is the fire truck here, too?” my son asked.
“I think it always comes when an ambulance is called,” I said, trying to be useful when in fact I felt useless.
With more than half the world under stay-at-home orders, many of us are experiencing this feeling of helplessness in the face of other people’s suffering. Under normal conditions, there would be meals to make and hospital visits to pay. But these are not normal days.
And yet, we are not powerless. Not even close. One of the most effective things we can do for our neighbors the world over is to get down on our knees and reach out to God, the source of help itself.
I wrote “20 Prayers to Pray During This Pandemic” to remind us that God is who he says he is: “See now that I myself am he! There is no god besides me” (Deut. 32:39).
In the weeks since the publication of that piece, hundreds of thousands of people around the globe have been reading, praying (presumably), and also sharing those prayers—in seven languages [see yellow links]. The numbers—encompassing more than 100 countries—pay tribute to how the church is coming together in crisis.
As we continue to join hands from a distance, here are 20 more prayers for our neighbors everywhere:
1. For the church, struggling with faith in the midst of global suffering: God, we believe in your willingness to heal and your power to do so. Help our unbelief.
2. For those who have turned to faith in Jesus for the very first time during this pandemic: God, help our new brothers and sisters grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior.
3. For those who don’t know Jesus yet but find their hearts stirred by spiritual curiosities and eternal longings: God, in your kindness, lead many to repentance and obedient faith in your Son.
4. For first responders and frontline health care workers, especially in epicenters of infection: God, reinforce their ranks and strengthen them with supernatural energy.
5. For companies with the ability (and the mandate) to manufacture much-needed protective equipment for our frontline health care workers: God, establish the work of their hands.
6. For transit workers, police officers, and other public servants working tirelessly, often without adequate protection: God, give them stamina every day and keep them from falling ill.
7. For nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and other long-term care facilities: God, encourage the lonely residents and strengthen the staff members who help them. Prevent further spread of infection, and comfort families who can no longer visit their loved ones.
8. For the incarcerated, who are particularly vulnerable to the spread of this virus: God, give wisdom to prison officials. Protect inmates and staff from both violence and illness. Deliver them all from fear.
9. For women and children in abusive situations: God, restrain those who commit harm. Provide protection and rescue for victims and comfort them in their vulnerability.
10. For countries in the developing world: God, contain the spread of infection in our world’s most densely populated and poorest cities. Spare countries already burdened with disease and chronic poor health.
11. For Asian Americans in the United States, Africans in China, and other people all over the world subjected to COVID-related racism: God, confront this evil with your swift justice, and deliver our brothers and sisters from cruelty.
12. For everyone anxious about the economic future—how they’ll pay for housing, food, and essential medicines: God, connect them to sources of help through the church, the government, and the community. Enable them to look toward you for provision.
13. For small churches without cash reserves: God, keep their doors open, and urge your people to give generously.
14. For educators, forced to adapt curricula to online learning, and for students, forced to exercise more autonomy: God, make homes a place of curiosity, inquiry, and study. Give special help to children without regular access to the internet and other digital tools.
15. For those disappointed by the cancellation of milestone celebrations like graduations, weddings, or baby showers: God, comfort them in their disappointments, and make it possible for them to gather again with friends and family.
16. For expectant mothers, who face the prospect of labor and delivery without the support team they’d planned for: God, deliver them from fear, and fill them with joy as they witness new life.
17. For women facing unexpected pregnancy in this time of economic crisis: God, help them to find the practical and emotional support they need to keep them from seeking abortions.
18. For churches, parachurch ministries, and other Christian organizations doing online evangelism and discipleship: God, bless our imperfect digital efforts and continue to advance the kingdom of Jesus through your people.
19. For those dying alone in hospitals and for their loved ones: God, draw near to them and, by your mercy, let them encounter Christ, the friend who never leaves and never forsakes.
20. For those involved with politics at every level: God, help our leaders to work collaboratively and communicate efficiently, setting aside self-interest for the common good.
God, we acknowledge that you spoke the world into being and continue to sustain it with your Word. We trust in your wisdom, power, and goodness. Help us at every opportunity to love as you loved and to serve as you serve. Give us courage to speak of our hope in Jesus, who suffered for us, rose from the dead, and is coming again. Amen.