Networks of conservative evangelical “intercessors” who have been mobilizing prayer on behalf of President Donald Trump and his reelection have turned their attention to the coronavirus crisis. Through numerous prayer calls, written prayer guides, and podcasts this week, religious-right activists and evangelists have rallied around Trump, asked God to bring a swift end to the pandemic, and predicted that God would use the crisis to launch a massive spiritual revival.
Praise for Trump
Trump won widespread praise from religious-right leaders for declaring Sunday, March 15 as a National Day of Prayer. Multiple online gatherings of pro-Trump prayer warriors took place in the days before and since.
Intercessors for America held a coronavirus-focused prayer call last Friday. Consistent with the shift in messaging from the Trump administration, IFA leader Dave Kubal did not downplay the severity of the pandemic, but he did engage in spin seemingly designed to deflect criticism of the administration over the country’s disastrous lack of capacity for testing for the virus. Kubal said that because there is no vaccine or treatment, “testing has limited value.” (This is not true; testing is key to fighting the spread of the virus.) Kubal prayed that people would not be “distracted” by the fact that there aren’t enough tests.
Among the prayer guides distributed by IFA is one that reads like a dispatch from the White House communications office wrapped in the language of prayer and scripture. “Praying into the President’s Response Efforts” includes lavish praise for Trump and his administration and urges readers, “Thank God for answering our prayers for clear and decisive leadership.”
Back-to-back calls Sunday evening featured a group of dominionist apostles, prophets and prayer warriors. A call organized by Paula White’s One Voice Prayer Movement and promoted by IFA was emceed by Todd Lamphere, who works with White. It included Dutch Sheets, Mario Bramnick, James Goll, Kathy Branzell, Summer Ingram of the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, and Yolanda McCune of the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network. At times, it had the sycophantic tone of a Trump cabinet meeting or press conference.
The call began with a reading of Trump’s day of prayer proclamation. Leaders took turns praying for medical advances, wise decision-making by public officials, divine healing, and spiritual revival. “I want to thank our president for doing something that I believe Heaven is pleased with,” Dutch Sheets said.
Bramnick began his prayer by saying, “Number one, I think we have to be so grateful for our president,” adding, “We thank you that you have given us a man after your heart.” Bramnick thanked God for giving Trump “supernatural wisdom” for the protection of the American people.
McCune of the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network prayed, “Father we thank you that you’ve given us a president and a vice president that hear your strategies.”
Chris Mitchell, the Jerusalem correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network, talked about having read Trump’s proclamation at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Sunday and said he left a copy there in the tradition of people who tuck written prayers into the wall.
On a Friday morning call organized by prayer-tent organizers Awaken the Dawn, MorningStar Ministries’ Rick Joyner said that God has “given us a decisive president” and that Trump has “taken wise action and he’s taken it decisively.”
On that same call, Alveda King, a member of the POTUS Shield council, even portrayed Trump’s misinformation as a spiritual strategy. King said she had been at a meeting in the White House in late February, when there were only 15 COVID-19 cases in the United States. According to King, Trump was already taking it seriously “inside without the media being there,” King claimed. “Somebody asked me, ‘Well, why does he say these other things and it sounds like he’s not taking it seriously?’ I said, ‘He says that so that the confusion in the camp is there with the enemy so he can get some work done.’ I said, ‘It’s unfortunate that he has to do that.’”
From Lemons to Lemonade: Spiritual Warfare Version
Many religious-right leaders have portrayed the coronavirus and the fear and economic disruption it has generated as a satanic plot designed to harm Trump’s presidency and interfere with his reelection and with a set of massive rallies planned this year to bring about a prophesied era of “stadium Christianity.” But, these religious-right leaders say, God will flip the script on Satan. Getting people to confront their mortality and turn to God in humility and repentance, the theory goes, will help bring about a new Great Awakening in the U.S. and a global billion-soul “harvest” predicted by the late prophet Bob Jones.
On a Steven Strang podcast posted Wednesday, former Bethel Church elder and Healing Rooms Ministries founder Cal Pierce declared that “the enemy”—Satan—“has an agenda against our nation” and is “trying to take God out of this country.” Pierce added, “And of course, as we see God beginning to move on America, putting in Donald Trump as our president and beginning to bring the kingdom back into the nation.” Impeachment didn’t work, he said, and this is just the next attack of the enemy, the next test for God’s people.
Awaken the Dawn’s David Bradshaw said on a Friday morning call that the virus is part of a “satanic agenda” and “demonic assignment” to take out what he said were at least 20 massive stadium-type events scheduled this year. On the same call, Lou Engle called the virus a “demonic thing” trying to shut down a planned “evangelistic explosion” in 2020.
Some religious-right leaders have said that while the virus did not come from God, he allowed it to spread, as judgment for the nation’s sins, as a way for disrupt people’s busy and idolatrous lives and turn their attention to God, and as a way to set the stage for a massive worldwide revival. Engle said on Friday’s call that God told him that the decision to allow the coronavirus to be unleashed was “a judgment from the Lord” but that God has also granted Engle spiritual authority to call for a breakthrough.
Rick Joyner said on Awaken the Dawn’s Friday call that God would use the virus to get people to reprioritize their lives and predicted that people will look back on 2020 as the beginning of the breakout of the great revival leading to the End Times harvest.
Bradshaw said that what Satan hoped would be an “abortion moment” God would turn into a “birthing moment,” and that the pandemic would become “the birthing mechanism to the Great Awakening.”
Prophesying a Quick End to the Crisis
On Strang’s podcast with Cal Pierce, which Strang said was recorded on March 13, Pierce said that “this thing is going to turn around” in 10 days. “We decree that in 10 days the world will acknowledge this turnaround to the glory of God,” Pierce said. Strang repeated the 10-day decree.
On a Mar. 13 Strang Report podcast, Strang said he believed the coronavirus would be resolved “fairly quickly,” citing dominionist Chuck Pierce’s prediction that the pandemic would be “solved somehow around Passover,” which begins the evening of Apr. 8. Engle predicted it would diminish during Passover so that the move into “stadium Christianity” could take place.
In another Charisma podcast posted Thursday, evangelist Curt Landry predicted that “on April 8, starting the week of Passover all the way through Easter on April 12, you’re going to see miraculous healing and miraculous deliverance in Israel and the United States of America in regards to a turnaround with this virus.”