A Day of Prayer in this time of Pandemic
In times of trouble and suffering, a person of faith is drawn to prayer. When our immediate experience is one of powerlessness, we lift our eyes to the One who can save us. When we feel fear and uncertainty, we look to the One who is constant and steadfast in His love for us.
While in Tasmania we have been blessed not to have suffered the level of infection or extent of government-imposed restrictions as are being experienced on the mainland, many Tasmanians continue to endure great hardship due to the COVID-19 virus. Businesses, particularly those dependent on tourism are still facing considerable challenges and those of us with loved ones on the mainland or overseas continue to be limited in the contact we can have.
Of course there continues to be much suffering throughout the world, particularly in developing countries which are still struggling to provide adequate healthcare for those with the most adverse reactions to the virus.
Prayer at this time can give comfort to us and also call upon God’s mercy and intercession for those whose suffering is the greatest.
Turning to prayer is a source of personal consolation. We open our hearts to God whom we know loves us. We share our burdens with God in whom we trust. It is also a time of intercession in which we invoke the mercy of God. As the world now suffers greatly through the pandemic, people of faith are being invited to offer prayers of intercession for the needs of the world.
The Sacred Scriptures confirm that we should turn to God in prayer of intercession. Jesus says to us, “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt 11: 28-30).
Consolation is offered in the words of Jesus given in St John’s Gospel (14:27): “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
From the Old Testament, God reveals Himself to Moses as a God of mercy and compassion. On Mount Sinai God declares Himself in these words: “The Lord, the Lord, a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness, for thousands he maintains his kindness, forgives faults, transgression, sin” (Ex 34: 6-7). This revelation encourages us to intercede, asking for God’s mercy upon humanity.
The psalms often express a cry to God for mercy in times of distress and darkness. In Psalm 34, the psalmist says, “They call and the Lord hears and rescues them in all their distress.” This is the faith and the experience of the psalmist. God does hear and answer the cries of those in need. The psalmist adds, “The Lord is close to the broken hearted; those whose spirit is crushed he will save.”
In many psalms we read of the hope of those who have learned to trust in the Lord in the midst of darkness and suffering. Thus, we read in Ps 86: 1-3: “Turn your ear, O Lord, and answer me; save the servant who trusts in you, my God. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I cry to you all the day long.”
The Lord wants us to call upon him in time of trouble. Psalm 50: 14-15 says: “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High; and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
The bishops of Australia have all received a recommendation from Archbishop Mark Coleridge as President of the ACBC to support an initiative which has come from the Christian churches including the National Council of Churches Australia. The initiative is that Sunday, 22 August, be a National Day of Prayer in this time of pandemic.
This National Day of Prayer invites the Church in Australia to lift up a united voice to God, who is rich in kindness and faithfulness, pleading for His mercy upon humanity in its time of distress and need.