The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, has announced plans for a special diocesan ‘Week of Prayer’ next week in response to the Covid-19 Coronavirus crisis. Parishioners and clergy are being asked to help form a “chain of prayer” across the diocese by signing up for half-hour prayer slots between 9am and 9pm each day from Monday morning until Sunday evening.
Announcing the initiative, on Wednesday afternoon, Bishop Forster urged parishioners to turn the chain of prayer into a tidal wave of prayer. “All of us know at this time that we’re living through that prayer is so important – it’s maybe more important for us than ever before, as individual people, that we pray.
“I’ve been saying again and again and again, pray like you’ve never prayed before. I really believe we’re seeing answers to prayer during this time. We need to keep on praying and keep asking God to bless us and help us and guide us through this; and asking God to help and bless and guide those who are helping us through this – all those key workers and important people; and asking God to help and guide and bless those who are really struggling with illness at this time; and asking God to help and guide and bless those in leadership.”
The Bishop told those watching and listening to him on Facebook Live that he had good news to share with them about a friend of the diocese, the Bishop of Butere in Kenya, Rt Rev Tim Wambunya. Last week, Bishop Andrew asked parishioners to pray for Bishop Tim who had contracted Covid-19 and been put on a ventilator in a Nairobi hospital. On Wednesday, hours before the ‘Week of Prayer’ announcement, Bishop Tim tested negative for the virus and came off the ventilator, although he remains in intensive care. “He’s still getting oxygen,” Bishop Forster said, “but things are turning the right way for Bishop Tim. That is an answer to prayer because last week it wasn’t looking good and we’re really delighted to hear that news from Kenya.”
Bishop Forster told his online congregation on Wednesday afternoon that their prayers counted and that their prayers could do great things. He asked them to support the ‘Week of Prayer’ by signing up for one of the 168 half-hour slots available next week to pray for the challenges our world faces during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Bishop hopes to have every minute of the prayer day covered, from nine in the morning until nine at night between Monday 27th April and Sunday 3rd May (inclusive). “People are at a loss as to how they should respond to the COVID-19 crisis,” Bishop Andrew said. “This is something they can all do. They can do it at a time that suits them. They can do it on their own or at the same time as other people. They can do it in their homes. They can do it even if they’re self-isolating or cocooning.
“From a Christian perspective, this is a very positive, very practical and very proactive thing to do,” Bishop Forster said. “Jesus said in Matthew 21:22: ‘Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.’ Let’s show our people, at this time of great trial, that we are people of faith, not fear.”
Each day during the ‘Week of Prayer’, Bishop Forster will lead a short time of prayer on Facebook Live at 9am and 9pm.
People who wish to sign up should email bishopsoffice@derryandraphoe.