For parents, understanding the anguish of having a sick child has bridged the gap between centuries. Whether children are healthy or sick, we can come to the Lord in prayer. The Gospels share several stories of parents who asked Jesus to heal their children, including a royal official — a man who likely spent his days giving orders — who begged Jesus to heal his son (John 4:46–54). Luke 8:41–42 tells of Jairus, a synagogue leader, who “fell at Jesus’ feet” pleading on behalf of his dying daughter.
Sadly, we still live in a world where parents agonize over the health of their children — and millions each year watch helplessly as their children die because the family lacks the most basic necessities: prenatal care, adequate food, clean water, vaccinations, medicine, and more. Every seven seconds, a child younger than 5 dies. Most of these deaths are from preventable causes such as pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria.
We recognize this reality with World Health Day, celebrated annually on April 7 to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO). Each year, the WHO mobilizes action around a specific health topic of concern to people all over the world.
Join us in prayer for the health of all of the world’s children who struggle to stay healthy and thrive.
I was sick and you looked after me.—Matthew 25:36 (NIV)
Playful 1-year-old Beto is a picture of good health now. It’s hard to believe how severe his health condition was only six months before.
World Vision Community Health Worker Octavio Ndaudadelela conducted outreach to assess children for severe, acute malnutrition. He visited Beto’s home in rural Angola. The boy was severely malnourished because of the country’s worst drought in 38 years.
Beto’s mom Ndahambelela, 32, says, “When Beto was sick, he didn’t laugh, and he didn’t play. He cried a lot back then. He was so unwell and thin and had lots of diarrhea. He even stopped taking my breast milk. When I tried to give him food, he didn’t really want that either. I was so worried about him.”
Octavio gave Beto ready-to-use therapeutic food and now he’s fully recovered and healthy.
“Now he laughs and plays. I don’t worry about him like I used to,” says Ndahambelela.
Pray for the health of all children and their mothers.
The health of children and their mothers can’t be separated. That’s why World Vision invests particularly in the critical first 1,000 days of a child’s life — from conception through age 2 — when the right nutrition and health interventions can have life-altering implications on a child’s ability to grow physically and mentally.
Great Healer, every child is precious to You. We pray for the health of all Your children and their mothers. We thank You for the work being done to help so many children and mothers. Let aid distributions reach families who need it the most, and provide the resources to help even more little ones. Heal and strengthen their tiny bodies so they may one day experience fullness of life.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” —Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV)
Pray that expectant and birthing mothers will have the care they need.
Worldwide, 810 women die every day from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. In sub-Saharan Africa, a woman’s risk of dying from treatable or preventable complications during pregnancy or childbirth is one in 37, compared to one in 3,100 in North America.
Great Shepherd, You know how much babies need their mothers. Be with pregnant women everywhere as they prepare to give birth. Strengthen their bodies and protect them from life-threatening diseases. Give them a safe delivery and a healthy baby.
“No longer will babies die when only a few days old. No longer will adults die before they have lived a full life.” —Isaiah 65:20 (NLT)
Pray for children to have access to the nutritious food they need to stay healthy.
Malnutrition is a global problem. In 2019, more than 2.3 million children died from nutrition-related causes. That’s almost 6,400 every day. World Vision helps malnourished children reach a healthy weight. Staff members also train parents to prepare nutritious meals and cultivate kitchen gardens to diversify their food options.
Lord Jesus, Scripture tells us that You understand our physical needs. In the Gospels, You fed thousands because You knew they couldn’t get food on their own. We pray for you to help hungry families access the food resources they need to survive and for their children’s health. Move among community health workers to inspire parents to learn new, sustainable ways to improve their children’s diets. Reassure struggling parents that they can help their children grow up strong and healthy.
“You haven’t eaten anything. Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive.” —Acts 27:33–34 (NIV)
Pray for communities lacking access to clean water.
More than 800 children per day die from preventable childhood diarrhea attributed to poor water, sanitation, and hygiene. World Vision strives to reduce child disease and death by helping communities access clean water, improving sanitation facilities, and empowering families to practice safe hygiene.
Heavenly Father, children and their families cry out to You to ease their burden. As You blessed Isaac and his servants with the long-lasting well at Beersheba in Genesis 26:32-33, we pray for You to give communities access to clean water and empower them with healthy hygiene and sanitation practices for the health of Your children.
“Come, all you who are thirsty.” —Isaiah 55:1 (NIV)
Pray for community health workers.
In rural areas around the world, a family’s access to a trained community health worker can mean the difference between life and death. World Vision supports more than 184,000 community health workers and thousands of health-focused community groups — more than any other humanitarian organization.
Community health workers learn to care for the sick through World Vision’s Radio Distance Learning program. This learning tool is part of a mobile phone-based system that provides access to resources to help diagnose and treat patients or refer them to better-equipped health facilities out of town.
Lord, we lift up community health workers who work hard to meet the needs in their community. Give them deep purpose, sustained energy, wisdom, and sufficient resources to fulfill their daily duties. Empower leaders and healthcare workers to create reliable networks, policies, and infrastructure to better treat sick children. Raise up more people who will use their skills among families with little or no access to healthcare.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul … who heals all your diseases.” —Psalm 103:2–3 (ESV)
Pray for the end of malaria.
Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria. And children under the age of 5 make up about 67% of the deaths from malaria. World Vision helps protects communities from malaria by distributing insecticide-treated bed nets. Because of programs like this, globally, an estimated 1.5 billion malaria cases and 7.6 million malaria deaths have been averted from 2000 to 2019. But experts estimate that disruptions in essential malaria services due to the COVID-19 pandemic caused up to 100,000 more people in sub-Saharan Africa, most of them young children, to die from malaria in 2020.
Holy Spirit, we see Your hand in the work to end malaria. Lift the spirits of all individuals who devote themselves to this effort, and help their work to achieve even greater results. Be with those who are ill from malaria, and help them to make a full recovery.
“LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.” —Psalm 30:2 (NIV)
Pray for children who have lost parents to HIV and AIDS.
“COVID-19 is threatening the progress that the world has made in health and development over the past 20 years, including the gains we have made against HIV,” says Winnie Byanyima, executive director of UNAIDS and under-secretary-general of the United Nations.
According to UNICEF, 13.8 million children under the age of 18 have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related causes. These boys and girls often lack food and healthcare. They’re also vulnerable to abuse and sometimes forced to quit school to care for their siblings. Ask God to bring caring adults into the lives of children who struggle without parents.
Dear Lord, James 1:27 says that taking care of orphans is pure and faultless religion in Your sight. We ask You to inspire Christians everywhere to take care of children who struggle to survive without parents. Our hearts break for precious children who have lost parents or have become separated from family. Be with them and bring people around them to show them Your love and goodness in spite of their grief and fear.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” —James 1:27 (NIV)
Pray for a continued reduction in child mortality rates.
The 5.2 million children younger than 5 who die every year is staggering, but it’s a number that’s moving in the right direction. Fifty years ago, approximately 20 million children were dying every year. As communities within developing nations are equipped with essential resources and knowledge, families have access to the basics they need to remain healthy.
Dear Lord, we see so much progress, yet so much need. We rejoice in the millions of lives that have been saved through the work of organizations such as World Vision. Please continue to equip developing nations with the funding, personnel, and extra help they need to provide services that promote healthy families.
“You restored me to health and let me live.” —Isaiah 38:16 (NIV)
Pray for a global will for children to grow up healthy.
U.S. funding for child survival and other global health programs has helped save millions of lives and reduced the toll taken by several diseases over the past three decades. Many other countries also work to help ensure children in developing nations have a chance to grow up healthy.
But again, COVID-19 threatens gains that have been made. The World Bank estimates that the pandemic pushed an additional 124 million people into extreme poverty in 2020, with the total rising to as many as 163 million by 2021.
Abba Father, You know every child by name, and You care about each one’s past, present, and future. We acknowledge that we can do nothing apart from You. Empower governments by Your Spirit to be sensitive to the needs of the most vulnerable children, especially during this global health crisis. We pray for You to guide the nations to continue to care about Your little ones by investing in the gift of health for all children.
“Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him. ‘My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.’ So Jesus went with him.” —Mark 5:22–24 (NIV)
Pat Curry, Chris Huber, and Laura Reinhardt of World Vision’s U.S. staff contributed to this article.