The power of prayer during a pandemic


by Rev. Joel Ajayi, PhD, BCC

May 3, 2020

There is a wide spectrum of opinions and beliefs about prayer. Some believers simply see prayer as “communicating with God,” while others metaphorically describe prayer as “a telephone line to Heaven” or “the master key” to unlock the divine door.

But no matter how you personally perceive prayer, the bottom line about prayer is this: Prayer is a sacred connective act. When we pray, we’re seeking God’s audience. 

When a disaster strikes, people react differently in matters of prayer. First, crying to God is an instantaneous response for many religious people during a catastrophe. Certainly, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has awakened people of different faiths to call on their respective divine beings. And no doubt, many Christians must have recalled God’s instruction in the Scriptures:

“Call out to me when trouble comes. I will save you. And you will honor me.” (Psalms 50:15; cf. Psalm 91:15)

So, God’s line must be flooded with believers’ distress calls, as people pray with great fervor and desperation for rescue in these turbulent times. Even those who may not be accustomed to prayer may feel a longing to reach out to a higher power for wisdom, safety and answers.

Related: How faith and prayer helped me battle stage 4 ovarian cancer

For others, a disaster may cause them to feel abandoned by God or simply lack the energy to pray. Sometimes, faith may temporarily get muddled in the waters of the current upheaval.

Such was the case of the widow of a former hospice patient I encountered over a decade ago. I noticed different religious items in their home when I got there to offer pastoral grief support: framed inspirational scriptural quotes on the walls, an open Bible and religious books on their bed beside her husband’s lifeless body — all of which attested to their close faith-walk with God until death rocked their world. The woman’s initial grieving included silent baffles and occasional tearfulness, stories of their life’s journey and a lot of dialogical “whys” posed to God. After some time, I asked the woman if a prayer could be of help. Her response confirmed my suspicion. She looked at me and said, “Prayer? Prayer? For me, God doesn’t exist right now.” 

How to stay connected to God during a crisis

Catastrophic events — whether illness, death, job loss or a global pandemic — can numb prayer nerves and sap energy out of even veteran prayer warriors. So, when “the hiddenness of God” allows a thick gloom to invade our personal spaces during a crisis, how can we stay connected to God? I suggest the following possible ways:

Try introspective meditation.

Prayer is not always verbal communication with God. Instead of wondering and wandering in thoughts, turn your traumatic sleeplessness into a purposeful devotional vigil. After all, your subconscious mind is still fully aware of God’s transcendent presence.

Engage in conversation with God.

God knows that you’re deeply hurting, but you can still tell Him how you feel. Agonizing on the cross, Jesus himself felt abandoned by God, and He was honest about it in questioning His heavenly Father: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46).

Pray for specific needs.

  • The health and safety of your loved ones as well as your personal wellbeing
  • Protection and resilience for the frontlines caring for people infected with the virus
  • Divine guidance and wisdom for our national and global leaders as they lead us through this challenging time
  • Shared compassion to see and act upon the needs of those around us
  • The doctors and researchers working toward a sustainable solution to the virus

Reach out to prayer intercessors.

A vital benefit of a faith community of believers is collaborative prayer, whereby you can find comfort, assurance and encouragement. Reach out to your existing support system or take this opportunity to deepen a connection with someone you know to be a strong prayer warrior. And of course, it’s consoling to know or remember that God’s Holy Spirit also intercedes for God’s people during a crisis of prayer.

We can find solace and peace in the fact that every crisis has a lifespan. History tells us so. This current pandemic will subside and as it does, we can continue to talk to God through the channel of prayer. 

Would you like someone to pray for you? Submit a prayer request online.

About the Author

Rev. Joel Ajayi, PhD, BCC, is a chaplain coordinator at Baylor University Medical Center, part of Baylor Scott & White Health.

We make it easy.

Healthcare doesn't have to be difficult. We're constantly finding ways to make it easy so that you can get Better and stay that way.

Better tools make it easier

We all have different healthcare needs. Handle them your way with the MyBSWHealth app. Download the app today and take a hands-on approach to your healthcare.

Text Better to 88408