MATTHEWS: Prayer has the power to unite us in uncertain times

When it comes to politics, whether in normal times or times of uncertainty, there will always be fierce disagreements among people of differing political stripes about the policies our elected officials put in place, about how to make the country a better place for our children and grandchildren.

But even in the midst of lines being drawn in the sand on the best way to move our country forward, there can be unity, and it is often found through the power of prayer.

Such was the case on a Monday morning segment of MSNBC last week, when anchor Craig Melvin interviewed Texas Bishop T.D. Jakes on the faith community’s role in helping people navigate through the coronavirus crisis.

Jakes, it should be noted, is not a fan of President Trump’s — nor is MSNBC, judging by the left-wing leanings of many of its show hosts. But the message delivered that day transcended heated political divisions, if only for a few powerful moments.

After a five-minute discussion, Melvin asked Jakes to do something unexpected during the live segment. He asked Jakes to pray on behalf of those who couldn’t make it to church that previous Sunday because of shelter-at-home restrictions put in place in certain states, which limit the ability of large groups of people to congregate in places like churches.

Jakes happily obliged Melvin with the following prayer:

“Our Father and our God, we bow our heads to you in humility, understanding that we are not competent in and of ourselves to handle this kind of global calamity. We look to you, Lord, to be the source, the strength, the help, the light that we need. Strengthen our first responders, strengthen even our broadcast people, strengthen all of us whose lives have been devastated and disrupted and give us the peace that passes all understanding. In Christ’s name we pray, amen.”

During the same segment, Melvin aired a partial clip from Jakes’ livestreamed Sunday service, where the pastor addressed those watching who fretted about whether or not staying home from church in these times was the right thing to do. Here’s what Jakes told them:

“They’re having all this big discussion about whether we should have church or not, or whether we should be in a building, then talk about what would Jesus do. I don’t know, because Jesus never saw a church. All of this stuff you made don’t have nothing to do with the power of God. It’s not about a building. It’s not about a building. It never has been about a building.”

I shared Melvin and Jakes’ exchange on my social media feeds, and the response was amazing. Everyone loved it.

People who normally frown on public displays of faith and prayer commented that they enjoyed it. People who typically don’t watch MSNBC were pleasantly surprised over the segment and praised it. A few atheists even responded that they appreciated the sentiment behind it.

This is all anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But in a country that has been divided sometimes over the years about whether or not thoughts and prayers should be openly expressed in times of tragedy and turmoil, it reminded me that the power of prayer has the ability to bring out the best in us on so many levels.

God bless America.

Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah, and is a regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.