Prayer for the Nation

As the UK reaches a devastating milestone, the diocesan bishops echo calls from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to join together in a prayer for the nation.

In the last week of January 2021, the UK’s Covid-19 death toll sadly passed 100,000.

Speaking to BBC Radio Oxford’s Lilley Mitchell, Bishop Steven said,

“The sorrow across the nation is really quite hard to take in… These are not just statistics – every figure represents a person and a family and a loss.”

Speaking on BBC Three Counties Radio, Bishop Alan Wilson echoed the Bishop of Oxford’s sentiments. Looking to the positive stories of the crisis, he reflected,

“I think what’s also happened in this time is some of the compassion and the humanity, the spirit for community and some of the connections between us have come out in unexpected ways.”

He reflected on a local church who brought their pupils together with VE Day veterans via Facebook. They were able to share their wisdom in a new way, and the experience was appreciated at all levels.

In their open letter to the nation, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York encouraged everyone who is feeling afraid or anxious to cast their fears on God and set aside time every day to pray.

Paul Coia, from BBC Radio Berkshire, asked Bishop Olivia what she thought we should be praying for. The Bishop replied,

“I think the 100,000 death marker is incredibly significant for us… It’s a really sobering moment and we have to be aware that every single one of those deaths represents people – family, friends who are grieving the loss of somebody they loved, and we need to pray for compassion and hope, for God’s love to surround them and comfort them.”

The Archbishops’ call is to all people, regardless of what faith, if any, they hold. For many, the coronavirus crisis has brought to the surface a number of questions about faith and God. Bishop Olivia gave some advice to those who may wish to explore further.

“What we’ve found during the pandemic is that people who have no faith are asking very deep questions suddenly; a lot of stuff has been brought up for them that they want to explore… If anybody is asking deep questions, I’d really ask them to contact a local church and see if they if they can join in with Come and See, because it could be a life-changing moment for them.”

Although the Archbishops suggest 6pm, you can pray any time, anywhere. We recommend following these words based on Psalm 23, written by Bishop Steven. Find a regular time each day when you can spend a moment of quiet casting your fears onto God.