I am grateful to Governor Kevin Stitt for calling Oklahomans to unite on a day of prayer and fasting Dec. 3, 2020. This is a wise call to action. In prayer, we recognize our common bond of need as we prioritize divine guidance and help in the face of unprecedented challenge. This day of prayer invites all faith communities to remember our pressing concerns, to ask God to heal those affected by COVID-19, to strengthen those who care for the sick and to comfort all who suffer from this terrible pandemic in so many ways - physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually. With our eyes focused upon the needs of our state, prayer draws our gaze upward to the One who can meet our needs.
Some may pit prayer against responsible action in our state, thinking this day of prayer and fasting may be a weak cover for inaction in the face of a pandemic. I do not believe such a view is accurate, however.
Prayer is the natural complement to responsible and selfless action in our communities. We pray to God even while we work together for the common good. Both actions remain necessary and indispensable.
The phrase “the common good,” reminds us that Oklahomans do better together. We can seize our moment for the common good today: to be better, kinder and more selfless Oklahomans. We saw common effort for the common good at the beginning of the fall semester at OBU. This fall, Bison Hill served one another for the common good. We prioritized the health and safety of our community members to keep the spread of the virus to a minimum. We faithfully wore masks, maintained physical distancing in all spaces, consistently followed healthy hand hygiene and performed daily health screenings. Ours was not a political statement, but it was a communal effort for the common good.
And it was worth it. Thanks to our students’ attentiveness and the consistency of our faculty and staff to follow ongoing health and safety protocols, we maintained 87% of our classes in-person, keeping our students on campus where they could continue to learn alongside their faculty mentors and fellow students. On the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving, we celebrated our graduating students in-person during three physically-distanced commencement ceremonies. It reminds us that working together for the common good is always worth it. We are better together than apart.
But I would be remiss if I failed to affirm OBU’s great semester was rooted and grounded in prayer. As followers of Jesus, we prayed regularly for our faculty, staff, students and city. We prayed for protection from COVID-19. We prayed for comfort for those who suffered as a result of it. We found that prayer funds appropriate action for the common good. With this in view, I am grateful Governor Kevin Stitt has called our state to prayer.
Let us pray even as we work together for the common good. Let us pray for a vaccine, for comfort and healing, for wisdom as we work together, for a spirit of service and kindness, and for the continued blessing of our state and our nation. On this day, let us pray.
Dr. Heath A. Thomas
President and Professor of Old Testament
Oklahoma Baptist University