THE month-long lockdown, which began on Thursday, should become a month of prayer for the nation, senior church leaders said this week.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, together with the House of Bishops and the leaders of other denominations, are urging all Christians to pray each day for a specific group of people. And they have asked for a collective moment of prayer at 6 p.m. each day, to be accompanied by the tolling of a church or cathedral bell.
The idea was first mooted in a letter to all clergy, written by the two Archbishops and the Bishop of London last Sunday. This has now been fleshed out, and support has come from the Presidents of Churches Together in England, among them the RC Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols; the Pentecostal Pastor Agu Irukwu; the Coptic Orthodox Archbishop Angaelos of London; and the founder of 24-7 Prayer International, Pete Greig.
Intentions for each day of the week have been suggested:
Sunday: family, friends, and loved ones;
Monday: schools and colleges, children, and young people;
Tuesday: the elderly, those who are isolated and vulnerable;
Wednesday: businesses, the workplace, and economic wellbeing;
Thursday: the NHS and other key workers;
Friday: national and local governments;
Saturday: all who are grieving, those suffering with physical and mental health.
Specially written prayers and other resources will be shared on social media with the hashtag #PrayerForTheNation. The C of E website will carry material to help those praying, including new prayers by Mr Greig and the Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, and the former Bishop of Durham the Rt Revd Professor Tom Wright.
Archbishop Welby said on Wednesday: “Prayer is my first response when I feel out of my depth, when I need help, when I am worried, when I am concerned for those I love. It is a gift that God gives to all, whether you are a regular pray-er or not; bring your cares and the cares of the nation to God. For God loves and hears and holds.”
Archbishop Cottrell said: “Prayer changes things. It changes things by inviting God into the room. At this challenging time, when all of us are fearful and anxious, and when so many are suffering, it is the one thing we can all do.
“We can pray and invite God to change us, giving us the solace, strength, and comfort we need for the difficult winter that is ahead of us. Let’s pray together at this difficult time.”