COVID-19, Jesus and prayer
Updated: Mar 19
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein
This famous quote cannot be more appropriate when talking about the usefulness, or rather uselessness of prayer. For many centuries religious apologists have used prayer, and answered prayer in particular, as an argument for the existence of god. Some apologists still do. People have been praying as long as they have been around, with the invariable result of… no result. What few empirical studies have been done, show that prayer may actually have a detrimental effect on people who were being prayed for(1). In spite of the lack of any demonstrable effect of prayer in our physical world, millions of believers in whatever god you can come up with, continue to pray for this and that. Are all those people insane? Or can they honestly say that their prayers have indeed been answered with the desired outcome?
The Covid-19 pandemic has been the subject of many heartfelt prayers. We look at some examples however, where the Corona-virus appears completely immune to prayer (pun intended), no matter how many people are praying for the virus to cease and desist, or no matter how VIP the praying person is.
By mid-January 2020, 56 people in China had died of Covid-19. Two thousand others had been infected; a few of them in Europe and North-America. On January 26 the Vatican radio announced that Pope Francis, high priest of Rome (pontifex maximus) and god’s replacement on earth, was praying for the victims and in support of the battle against the disease. As of March 8th, 2020, according to the numbers of the National Health Commission of China and its Health Commission of Hubei Province, the number of deaths due to COVID-19 totaled 3,661, with 107,800 people infected, spread over 104 countries.
On February 28th, 2020 the Iraqi Muslim scholar Hadi al-Modaressi publicly denounced the plague as god’s punishment of the Chinese [https://swarajyamag.com/insta/iraqi-islamic-scholar-who-called-coronavirus-divine-punishment-gets-infected-by-coronavirus]. On March 5th however, he is tested positive with the virus. Coincidentally, this is the very same day that the virus had been exiled from our planet by a Christian prophet in the United States of America. Prophet in question: Cindy Jacobs, cofounder of Generals International, faith-healer/prophet and staff member of the White House spiritual advisor pastor Paula White. Her proud and overly confident condemnation of the soon to be forgotten virus can be witnessed on YouTube. Here’s a transcript of the ultimatum she posed to the Corona-virus:
“We’re going to decree that the coronavirus will cease worldwide. Now what’s gonna happen? I don’t know if everybody will get healed. I don’t know… we’re praying. We prayed for vaccines. We prayed for Israel… They had vaccines. We have people interceding across the face of the Earth. Listen: Intercessors have been going to Wall Street! I mean… all over! I have to tell you: Intercessors are on this! I just want to thank you, intercessors of the world. You haven’t slept through this. You have been very, very active, and we’re gonna ask… God to heal those affected…[…]…Father, in the name of Jesus, You have promised we have all authority, not some authority! You have promised that we are seated with You in heavenly places, so we take Throne Room authority, and we bring that into the situation of the coronavirus, and we say in the name of Jesus, “Virus, you are illegal! This is God’s Earth!”
As one of the emergency powers invoked to counter the pandemic, commander-in-chief of the US Military and commander of god’s plan, president Donald Trump declared Sunday, March 15th a National Day of Prayer. Ironically, that very same day, the Vatican decided to disallow the public to attend masses and Easter celebrations, and closed its public spaces. The number of positively tested cases had by that date increased to 142,000 people worldwide. If prayer had any effect on the matter at all, then people had better stopped praying! The virus couldn’t care less about the prayers of pope, US president and self-declared prophet of god. And if it didn’t care about the prayers of those people of note, then it sure wouldn’t about the prayers of millions of less famous believers. The numbers of infected people and deaths just kept growing. On August 28th 2020, the count stood at 24.67 million people infected and 836,596 deaths (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/?)
If any correlation could be observed from this trend, one could only conclude that praying to stave off the spread of the Corona-virus actually seems to invigorate it. Sure, one could debate whether the fore mentioned trio of “forerunners on the praying field” are practicing the right religion. Pope Francis of course is a Catholic and many Protestants don’t deem Catholics to be Christians at all. What president Trump is, no one can say for sure. He probably is what gets him the most votes. And in spite of her loudmouth, Cindy Jacobs is no Christian either, as she clearly violates the rules and principles in the bible. The (incidentally also self-declared-) apostle Paul makes it perfectly clear: 1 Timothy 2:12 “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence”. If Cindy Jacobs is a Christian, she should shut up…and stop using the Lord’s name in vain.
One person should stand beyond all doubt or be without reproach when it comes to the true power of prayer: none other than Jesus the Christ himself.
Matthew 21:22 “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Mark 11: 24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” John 14:13 “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
As an instruction manual this seems pretty straightforward. In spite of her transgressions against the bible instructions, Cindy Jacobs at least got this part right. If the claims of the gospels are true, than shouldn’t we all have noticed by now? When things seem too good to be true, they probably are. Indeed, the very same bible contradicts Jesus on other occasions.
On the night of his arrest, Jesus was praying all by himself in the garden of Gethsemane:
Matthew 26:39 "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
In spite of everything Christians may tell you or would like you to believe, Jesus never called himself god, not even the son of god (in a literal sense), and this verse is but one of many that make that perfectly clear. The idea of Jesus' divinity was a later add-on. Yet this is stuff for another discussion. In this verse, Jesus himself admits by implication that prayer will be answered, or will not be answered. If it is up to the will of god, then god will do as he wants, according to his predetermined plan. Consequently, god will not change his plans for anyone, so praying for anything to be changed in that plan is avarice. Who are you that god should change his plans for your sake? In the above verse of god’s word, Jesus clearly considers himself separate from his god. If he were god, as Christians maintain, then his prayer is completely nonsensical. We know how the story continues. Three times Jesus prayed that he would be released from his imminent fate, to no avail. God decided not to grant him his wish. Incidentally, have you noticed the oddity of the entire passage? When Jesus was praying all by his lonesome self in the dead of night, three times he found his disciples asleep upon his return to the group (one of the few times we read about Jesus getting angry). But how could the gospel writers bear witness to what Jesus was doing, let alone what he was praying for? It is just one of many instances that show us that the gospels are but fantasy stories and definitely not witness accounts at all.
The bottom line is clear. Pray all you want. As a form of meditation prayer can be helpful. It can calm your nerves, stabilize your heart rate, relieve stress and so forth. But don’t delude yourself. Praying to be safe from harm, won’t keep you safe from harm. Praying to pass a history test when you didn’t study won’t increase your chances: studying does. Praying for a loved one to be cured from a disease hasn’t been shown to cure that loved one. A good doctor and the right medication might.
A child is swept into sea and is on the verge of drowning. A faith healer witnesses the event, raises his hands and starts praying for the child to be kept safe. An atheist sees what’s going on, rushes into the water and swims as fast as he can towards the child. Who’d you rather put your trust in for a positive outcome?
It has been almost two years since Cindy Jacobs, the spokesperson for the three-headed god exiled the Coronavirus from our planet. It seemed however that the Throne Room authority she invoked had a tragic inverse effect. It is curious to note that Mrs. Jacobs has not been committed; maybe it is because her clinical insanity is not hurting anyone aside from a lot of people being fooled into giving her lots of money. Maybe she does get treatment and has to take a lot of medication which might explain why she is still hearing voices. A year after her 2020 ultimatum she was allowed to publicly pray away the virus once again:
[https://www.generals.org/blog/global-day-of-prayer-coronavirus], but to no avail.
It only caused the virus to mutate in a number of variants. It seems that there is a power at work here that is far greater than the god she is channeling and she'd better start thinking about switching allegiance if she hopes to prophesize anything that might actually come true. It is clear that the Coronavirus still is immune to her lunacy, or maybe it still hasn't learned to speak English.
Her broadcast of the 2021 "Global" prayer meeting was an excruciating hour and a half of garbage vomiting, but I sat it out to see if the crowd was as large as the one attending her infamous 2020 service. It wasn't. On December 28, 2021, the death toll of the virus stood at 5,425,281 victims, almost 1,500 times the number of deaths at the time of her first ultimatum. But keep on praying and preying people: even a broken watch gets it right at least once a day.
Charles Dalet, PhD, August 28th, 2020; updated by David, aPHD, 28 December 2021
(1) On the website of God and Science.org, “Evidence for God”, “Answers for Atheists and Agnostics”, https://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/prayer.html, last updated March 18, 2007 the author Rich Deem refers to three studies. The first one showed that praying for sick people in a Coronary Care Unit gave them a tiny advantage in their recovery time. The second study gave no statistically significant data because of the small sample population. The third study gave the people who were being prayed for a slight disadvantage. The article does not talk about who or what put those people in the hospital, neither if the patients themselves ever prayed for being kept safe from harm and disease before they ended up in the hospital.
Worldometer, "Coronavirus Death Toll", https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/coronavirus-death-toll/
As consulted on 28 December 2021: 5,425,281 deaths
Generals International, "Global day of prayer for the Coronavirus", blogpost, 04 March 2021 https://www.generals.org/blog/global-day-of-prayer-coronavirus The link to her video: https://www.god.tv/video/call-for-prayer-a-response-to-the-coronavirus/zype
Covid-19 virus specimen, image retrieved from: US Food and Drug Administration, "Food safety and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19)", content current as of 27 January 2022, https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-during-emergencies/food-safety-and-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19
Mitch Finley, "Jesus' agony in the garden", the Word among us > prayer resources, a selection from the Revised and Updated Edition of The Rosary Handbook: A Guide for Newcomers, Old-Timers, and Those In Between by Mitch Finley (The Word Among Us Press, 2017) https://wau.org/resources/article/jesus_agony_in_the_garden/