Faith leaders offer prayers as President Trump tests positive for COVID-19

(Erin Schaff | The New York Times) President Donald Trump on Wednesday night, Sept. 30, 2020, at a reelection campaign rally in Duluth, Minn. Trump revealed early Friday morning, Oct. 2, 2020, that he and the first lady, Melania Trump, had tested positive for the coronavirus, throwing the nation’s leadership into uncertainty and escalating the crisis posed by a pandemic that has already killed more than 207,000 Americans and devastated the economy.

As news of President Donald Trump’s positive COVID-19 test spread, prayers began flowing for his recovery and for the recovery of first lady Melania Trump.

Among the first to pray: former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s rival in the current presidential race. President Trump tweeted the news of his positive test shortly after midnight Friday (Oct. 2), saying that he and the first lady would quarantine in the White House. “WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER!” the president said.

Tony Suarez, vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and faith adviser to the Trump administration who was with Vice President Mike Pence at a Faith and Freedom Coalition event on Wednesday (Sept. 30), told Religion News Service that he woke up to the news and immediately sent an email prayer to the president.

Suarez later shared the prayer on Twitter.

“I know a name greater than COVID, corona, or SARS, it’s the name of Jesus and I pray healing in that wonderful name over you and the first lady,” he wrote. “Rest and get well sir. See you back on the campaign trail soon.”

[Read more: Utah Sen. Mike Lee has COVID-19; news comes after he met face to face with court nominee Barrett]

Beth Moore, a well-known Baptist Bible teacher, added her prayers, saying she’d begun praying after hearing the news early Friday (Oct. 2). She cautioned Christians of all political persuasions to show compassion.

“This is not partisan. This is Christian. God, help us in these difficult days,” she wrote.

The Resistance Prays, a progressive faith group that has been deeply critical of Trump, released a statement urging its followers to pray for the president and the first lady, asking that their bodies and hearts would be healed and that this would “move them towards compassion and justice.”

“While we continue to resist evil and the government’s abysmal handling of the Coronavirus that has led to more than 200,000 deaths, we must also recall Jesus' teachings to love our enemies,” their statement read.

The Rev. Laura Everett, executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, added her prayers on social media: “I pray for Mr. & Mrs. Trump, pray they do not suffer from #COVID19, pray as I always do for their hearts to soften, and entrust them into God’s care.”

Everett also added a mini-sermon to her prayers, reminding followers who disapprove of Trump not to gloat.

Johnnie Moore, a longtime faith adviser to the president and a commissioner for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, tweeted out a prayer early Friday morning.

“Dear God, Please touch (President Trump) and (First Lady Melania) with your healing grace, guiding the hands of all of the medical professionals treating them,” the tweet read. “Give them a speedy recovery. I thank You that You made them so strong. God, do the same for every person in the world facing the same. Amen.”

Vocal Trump supporter and evangelist Franklin Graham also tweeted out prayers for the first family, asking followers to join him in “praying especially for them, that they would have a quick recovery.”

Keisha Lance Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta, also sent out thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery for the president.

News of President Trump’s diagnosis brought both prayer and a rebuke from the Rev. William Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. Barber has been critical of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m praying for the recovery of the President and his wife from COVID and for all those who also may have been infected,” he said in a statement passed on by a spokesman. “And I’m praying he and his enablers recover from the arrogance and lies with which they have ignored the warnings of public health officials and the cries of those who are suffering.”

The Associated Press reported Vice President Mike Pence has tested negative for COVID-19 and “remains in good health.”

Both Pence and Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, publicly wished President Trump well on social media.

Pence said he and his wife, Karen, were praying for their dear friends.

“We join millions across America praying for their full and swift recovery,” he wrote on Twitter. God bless you President Trump & our wonderful First Lady Melania."

Harris and her husband also offered their support.

“Doug and I join Joe Biden and Dr. Biden in wishing President Trump and the First Lady a full and speedy recovery,” she tweeted. “We’re keeping them and the entire Trump family in our thoughts.”

Rachel Maddow, a longtime Trump critic, added her concern for President Trump and first lady Melania and asked for prayers for everyone affected by the coronavirus.

For at least one pastor on Twitter, praying for President Trump has been a challenge.

The Rev. Dan Schultz, a United Church of Christ pastor and writer in Wisconsin, said that for him, praying for the president is complicated.