An overlooked answer to COVID-19

A global day of prayer on May 14 reflected an upsurge of prayer as a healing response to the coronavirus.

Reuters
Healthcare workers pray for COVID-19 patients at Persahabatan Hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 14.

Of all the responses to the coronavirus, one of the most overlooked by journalists and national leaders has been prayer. Yet take note: On May 14, tens of thousands of Christians, Muslims, and Jews around the world held a day of prayer for healing. It was sponsored by a newly formed interfaith group called the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity.

“Let us face this challenge with patience and composure,” said Indonesian President Joko Widodo at a mass prayer service in his Asian nation on Thursday. “Panic is half of the disease, equanimity is half of a cure, and patience determines recovery.”

Or note a day of prayer held in Israel April 22. Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Druze religious leaders gathered online to lead people in their respective prayers. Or note a day of interfaith prayer in the Philippines April 8 to address the virus crisis.

In the United States, the National Day of Prayer, held every year on the first Thursday in May, focused this year on helping Americans cope with COVID-19. At the local level, interfaith groups have also held days of prayer – on Facebook, Zoom, or similar online platforms.

During the COVID-19 emergency, “Americans have become significantly more likely to say that religion is increasing its influence on American life,” according to the results of a mid-April Gallup Poll. A March survey by Pew Research Center found 24% of Americans say their faith has become stronger while 55% said they had prayed for an end to the spread of the coronavirus.

In March, the number of Google searches for words like “prayer” and “God” skyrocketed in 75 countries, according to economist Jeanet Bentzen at the University of Copenhagen. In addition, downloads of Christian apps for prayer and meditation have increased in the U.S.

Adversity often pushes people to search for answers through prayer. The individual problems may differ in type and scope, but the universal truths found through prayer can provide peace and calm to all. Those truths are eternal and accessible. For many during this pandemic, this is not a surprise. Perhaps they should not be overlooked.

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