Christian churches join in Lord’s Prayer

Pope Francis, along with Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant church leaders and Christians throughout the world joined in simultaneous prayer on Wednesday to ask God to stop the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Church of England also asked Anglicans to join Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury in praying with Francis, tweeting: “Please join us wherever you are. Prayer unites us in testing times.”

The Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, encouraged all members to take advantage of the opportunity for a global prayer in the face of a global pandemic.

“As people across the globe are in their scattered working places at home, we will have the opportunity to unite our voices in praying to God with the words that our Lord Jesus Christ taught us,” Tveit said.

“At this challenging time, prayerful activities that unite us are a reminder that we are one human family.”

Francis, who initiated the mass-prayer event, invited all other Christian leaders and each of the world’s 2.3 billion Christians to recite the Lord’s Prayer simultaneously at noon Italian time (midnight NZ time).

“As trusting sons and daughters, we turn to the Lord. We do it every day, several times a day, but at this moment we want to implore mercy for all of humanity so harshly tried by the coronavirus pandemic,” the pope said March 25 as he introduced the prayer.

“We will do so together, Christians of every church and community, of every age, language and nation,” he said.

The prayer (known to many as the Our Father) was being offered for “the sick and their families, health workers and those who assist them, for authorities, police forces and volunteers, for the (religious) ministers of our communities,” Francis explained.

Noting the prayer was being offered on the feast of the Annunciation, when the angel told Mary she would bear God’s son, Francis said that “with full confidence we, too, place ourselves in God’s hands, and with one heart and soul, we pray.”

Francis prayed from inside the Vatican, where he has been isolated for the past few weeks.

This Friday, Francis will deliver an extraordinary “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) blessing – normally given only at Christmas and Easter.

Catholics who receive the blessing, either in person or via the media, can, under certain conditions, receive a special indulgence. An indulgence is remission of punishment for sins.

While not praying with the Christians, rabbis around the world called on Jews to observe a half-day fast March 25.

Israel’s Chief Rabbi David Lau also asked that during the traditional afternoon prayers, called the “Mincha,” people add the “Selichot” prayers, which are prayers for forgiveness.

In addition, the Jerusalem-based Interfaith Encounter Association, which brings together Israelis and Palestinians of different faiths, announced an “Interfaith Prayer for Humanity’s Health” the same afternoon.


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