Louisiana governor calls for prayer and fasting


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, July 21st. You’re listening to The World and Everything in It and we’re so glad you are! Good morning to you. I’m Mary Reichard.

BRIAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Brian Basham. Coming next, fasting and prayer.

The reported number of COVID-19 cases is on the rise in Louisiana. So last week, Governor John Bel Edwards responded with an unusual appeal. Something beyond masks and hand washing.

Governor Edwards is a Catholic pro-life Democrat, and he called for three days of fasting and prayer. Correspondent Kim Henderson has the story.

KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: Back in March, the state of Louisiana was rivaling places like New York and Italy for the number of confirmed coronavirus cases. 

AMBI: MARDI GRAS PARADE

Some speculated the surge was related to Mardi Gras events like this one. In February, more than a million revelers from all over the world converged on New Orleans.  

AMBI: MARDI GRAS PARADE (con’t)

In the months since, Louisiana has worked hard to control the effects of the pandemic. Just a week ago, Vice President Mike Pence spoke in Baton Rouge, addressing what appears to be a summer spike. 

PENCE: As we’ve seen rising cases across the Sun Belt, it was here in Louisiana that the people of this state, your state leadership, your healthcare workers have already demonstrated that the people of Louisiana know how to slow the spread. 

They know how to flatten the curve. They did it before, and we’re very confident that Louisiana is going to do it again . . .

Two days later, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards held a press conference. About 23 minutes into it, he made a surprising appeal.

EDWARDS: I’m going to call for three days of fasting and prayer for our state for July 20th through the 22nd . . . we’ll be doing lunch fasting . . .  

He said the idea came from a phone meeting that’s a regular part of his schedule. 

EDWARDS: Every couple to three weeks I have the opportunity to have a conference call with hundreds of pastors across the state of Louisiana . . .

He called for people of all denominations to join him in one purpose. 

EDWARDS: Praying for the people of Louisiana. Praying for the sick. Praying for those who care for those who are sick, and praying for the families of those who have passed on.

Edwards isn’t the first governor to call his state to prayer this year. 

SOUND: PASTOR PRAYING

Back in April, Governor Mike Dunleavy of Alaska promoted a day of prayer and hope. His televised program included clips from various interfaith leaders . . .  Christian, Muslim…

SOUND: SINGING

… and a Jewish family singing a song of healing.

I was sitting on a socially distanced pew in a Louisiana church this past Sunday, wearing a mask, when I first heard an elder describe Governor Edward’s initiative. A hundred and 80 miles south, Pastor Tom White was encouraging his congregation in a similar vein.  

WHITE: I know that we understand the power of prayer and I know that we know the power of meditating on God’s word. So I’m asking Jerusalem Baptist Church, all of our members, to join in with Governor Edwards and the rest of the state for these three days next week and participate in this fast. Listen, if we will do what we can do, God will do what we cannot do.

Other leaders in Louisiana reminded participants to pray for those whose livelihoods have been threatened by the pandemic, and for scientists in their search for a vaccine.  

Yesterday, Governor Edwards tweeted that he believes in the power of prayer, as well as the power of working together and being good neighbors to overcome COVID-19. He also referred to a verse found in the book of James. Faith without works is dead.  

That encourages Phillip Juban, a Baton Rouge resident who serves on a committee that plans the governor’s annual prayer breakfast. 

JUBAN: What better proclamation to come out of a politician’s mouth than to ask for prayer and asking for God to come and answer those prayers?

Juban says he will participate in the daily fasts and times of prayer. 

JUBAN: We can be united in this effort, although in so many other areas in this day and time we are not united. But this is one specific area I think everyone is united. So we just need to follow through with it and go to Him in prayer.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kim Henderson.


Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards makes remarks and answers questions during a news conference about the state’s COVID-19 situation. (Travis Spradling/The Advocate via AP, Pool)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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2 comments on Louisiana governor calls for prayer and fasting

  1. Dave U says:

    Please stop just reporting number of cases. While that is important, number of hospital admission and deaths by age adds more depth to the vitriol of “just cases are Spiking”. In the US (and Belgium, The Netherlands etc) 70% of deaths are nursing homes. In lake county Illinois (where I live) death of 0 to 18 y.o is <0.1%. 85% of deaths are people 75 or older with multiple comorbidities Please add more depth to your reporting numbers and not just reiterating the same news

  2. Gregory Schmeltz says:

    Very thankful for our governor. I joined the governor in prayer and fasting

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