Eye on KELOLAND: Praying through the pandemic


SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — COVID-19 is not only taking a physical and economic toll on KELOLAND, for many people, the outbreak is also a spiritual crisis. One Sioux Falls-based Christian outreach is seeing an increase in coronavirus-related prayer requests.

Antonio Olivares of Sioux Falls came to the Direct Line Prayer Center seeking spiritual help for his anxiety.

“When you bring your anxiety before God, he tells us to do exactly just that, to give him all of our anxiety, to give him all of our cares, to give him everything and he’ll work them out,” Olivares said.

Olivares says prayer helped him control his anxiety, and now he volunteers at the center, helping others with prayer requests of their own.

“A lot of people come in here just feeling like they have nothing, they have no control over things they are going through. And it’s just amazing being able to give that power back to them, give that encouragement back to them,” Olivares said.

The Direct Line Prayer Center is a non-denominational Christian ministry that opened in downtown Sioux Falls in 2008.

“We have all kinds of different sources for prayer requests. A lot of people will call in or email, sometimes we have people come in off the streets,” Direct Line Prayer Center Director Tom Rooney said.

Rooney, and others here, are firm believers in the power of prayer.

“When we pray, we expect something to happen. Does it always? No. But we’ve really seen a lot of phenomenal results,” Rooney said.

All prayer requests are kept confidential.

“We have people come in from bank presidents to people that live off the streets. Even pastors are here, too, because it’s a place they know they can come and it will stay here,” Direct Line Prayer Center Co-Founder Susie Wingler said.

Now the center is seeing a big increase in the number of prayer requests related to COVID-19.

“There’s a number of people that have called, some almost daily, I’m worried about the coronavirus. And some have underlying existing emotional things that they’re trying to deal with,” Rooney said.

Many people have found comfort in having someone pray on their behalf. Co-founder Susie Wingler says people leave the prayer center changed.

“It is actually a time where the world is shaken and that’s what we’re seeing, so we’re here to just stand by their side,” Wingler said.

The prayer center has become an even more important resource with so many area churches cancelling services because of the coronavirus.

“The way we have done things has changed as well. Normally, we would take teams into businesses that asked us to come with a prayer team to pray with them, and we’re not doing that right now, of course,” Rooney said.

The staff and volunteers at the center are optimistic the pandemic will pass and the world will recover, in no small part, as a result of the prayerful actions of the faithful. But in the meantime, they urge people who are social distancing to draw nearer to God.

“That’s why we just say all of these people that are home, have nothing to do: pray. They’ll see results. It will make a difference,” Wingler said.

The center could use more volunteers to handle the increase in prayer requests. If you’d like to volunteer, or have a prayer request of your own, click here

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