WASHINGTON — President Trump has declared Sunday a National Day of Prayer in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has been characterized as a pandemic in its affliction of nations worldwide.
“It is my great honor to declare Sunday, March 15th as a National Day of Prayer,” Trump tweeted on Friday. “We are a country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these.”
“No matter where you may be, I encourage you to turn towards prayer in an act of faith,” he added. “Together, we will easily prevail!”
According to the latest statistics as of press time, 3,377 Americans had been diagnosed with COVID-19, with 63 deaths nationwide. Next to China — as the virus is believed to have originated from animal-to-human transmission in Wuhan, the nation of Italy has been the hardest hit, with 24,747 cases and 1,800 deaths.
Trump stated during a press conference in the White House rose garden on Friday that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to have over a million coronavirus test kits available this week for medical facilities nationwide and approximately five million by the end of the month.
Some churches chose not to hold services on Sunday or to instead broadcast online, while others continued on as usual but encouraged those with any symptoms to stay home.
Trump said that he would be watching a church service online, specifically Jentezen Franklin’s Free Chapel service, which was streamed to its members this week.
Trump urged Americans via social media to implement “social distancing” at this time, officially declaring the outbreak to be a national emergency. Americans have been emptying out store shelves in the anticipation that they will have to stay home until the threat passes.
“Different parts of the country are seeing different levels of COVID-19 activity. The United States nationally is currently in the initiation phases, but states where community spread is occurring are in the acceleration phase,” the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports. “The duration and severity of each phase can vary depending on the characteristics of the virus and the public health response.”
It notes that the elderly and those with severe preexisting medical conditions, such as heart and lung diseases or diabetes, are at the most risk of experiencing complications should they contract the virus.
The CDC encourages regular hand-washing, daily cleaning of touched surfaces, and avoiding close contact with those who are sick, as with any contagion.
As previously reported, on March 23, 1798 — less than 12 years after the signing of the U.S. Constitution — John Adams, the second president of the United States, called for a day of national repentance, prayer and fasting.
“[T]he safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety without which social happiness cannot exist nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed,” he wrote.
James Madison, the fourth president of the United States, similarly called for a national day of prayer on July 9, 1812.
“I do therefore recommend the third Thursday in August next as a convenient day to be set apart for the devout purposes of rendering the Sovereign of the universe and the Benefactor of mankind the public homage due to His holy attributes; of acknowledging the transgressions which might justly provoke the manifestations of His divine displeasure; of seeking His merciful forgiveness and His assistance in the great duties of repentance and amendment, and especially of offering fervent supplications, that in the present season of calamity and war, He would take the American People under His peculiar care and protection.”
In the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national fast day in 1863, urging Americans to repent of their sins before God.
“[I]t is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord,” his proclamation read.
“[I]nsomuch we know that by His Divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people,” Lincoln said.
As previously reported, Dr. Andrew McFabich, a professor of microbiology at Truett McConnell University in Cleveland, Georgia, urged Christians this past week to use this time as an open door to share the gospel with others. He encouraged churches to distribute both necessary hygiene items and gospel tracts in their community.
“What we should learn from this COVID-19 outbreak is that life is short and we’re not guaranteed tomorrow (James 4:13-17),” he also outlined in a separate article. “While we all live forever, some will spend eternity in Heaven and others in a real place called Hell. The difference between Heaven and Hell is a relationship with the Creator of the universe: Jesus Christ.”