Louisiana governor again calls for prayer, fasting amid coronavirus
by Joe Bukuras
Baton Rouge, La., Aug 9, 2021 / 12:17 pm
Calls for prayer and fasting have once again sounded from the Louisiana Governor’s office as Covid-19 continues to endanger lives in the state.
“I believe very strongly in the power of prayer, and there are thousands of people right now in Louisiana who need to be lifted up in prayer,” Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said in an Aug. 6 statement. “So I hope you will join your prayers to mine for healing and protection.”
Edwards’ call for prayer and fasting is planned for Aug. 9-Aug. 11 and will take place during “the lunch hour.”
Edwards, a Catholic, was elected in November 2019 to his second term as Louisiana’s governor.
The governor reached out to “hundreds of ministers and pastors” throughout the state asking them to join him and extend the invitation to “anyone and everyone who is so inclined, no matter their religious beliefs.”
In an Aug. 6 letter from Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans to his clerics, the prelate asked that they join in the fast called for by the governor.
After requesting the clergy join in the fasting, Archbishop Aymond requested that announcement of the initiative be made at Masses on Aug. 8.
“The data is overwhelming in terms of positivity rates, hospitalizations, deaths and the healthcare system is overtaxed,” Archbishop Aymond said. “The governor is calling us to support the common good by vaccines, masking up, and prayer.”
So far, there have been 590,446 total Covid-19 cases in the state according to the Louisiana Department of Health. The department has recorded 11,260 deaths because of the virus.
Edwards said that he will be praying that the sick may fight the illness and that medical professionals caring for the sick can remain strong and safe. He also added that he prays children, teachers, and school support staff can safely begin the school year and that the people will do everything they can to help slow the spread Covid-19.
The governor’s call for prayer and fasting to combat the spread of Covid-19 is not his first request for a spiritual solution.
Twice during the height of the virus last year, Edwards called for prayer and fasting for those affected by the illness.
In a July 16, 2020 press conference, Edwards said, “I’m going to call for three days of fasting and prayer for our state, for July 20 through the 22nd,” explaining that he received a request for the spiritual practice during a call with religious leaders from across the state.
Prayer and fasting are “a spiritual diet and exercise that I as a Catholic Christian believe is very important, anyway,” said Edwards.
In a Facebook post, Archbishop Aymond, who was previously diagnosed with Covid-19, supported Edwards’ initiative then, as well.
“I encourage people of all faiths to pray for those who have died from the Coronavirus, for the healing of those who are sick at the present time, for caregivers and healthcare workers on the front lines, and for our protection throughout the world and particularly in our own state that the virus may come under control,” wrote Archbishop Aymond.
Edwards first call for prayer and fasting came in last year in a tweet in March.
“In this Lenten season where we focus on fasting and prayer, I wanted to let the people of Louisiana know that I will be fasting tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24,” Edwards tweeted.
The governor asked others to pray and fast with him “for comfort to those that have lost a loved one to COVID-19, the complete recovery of those that have tested positive, and that God will, as He has done before, heal His people and our land.”
In addition to prayer, the governor encourages all Louisianians to help slow the spread of COVID by getting the Covid-19 vaccine, and wearing a mask whenever they are indoors and in public.