The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written to all clergy in the context of the new one month lockdown. They have said to us: ‘Bearing in mind our primary vocation as the Church of Jesus Christ to pray and to serve we call upon the Church of England to make this month of lockdown a month of prayer…..During the first lockdown we cheered for the NHS every Thursday. During this second lockdown we invite you to fast in a way appropriate to you as well as pray for our nation every Thursday, for its leaders, its health and essential services and all those who suffer’.
So I propose in Itchen Valley that we should fast and pray for 24 hours on each Thursday on the lockdown starting tomorrow. As with our periods of prayer which we have conducted before for individuals who were dangerously ill, we will have a sign up sheet for 24 hours. The aim will be for anyone who signs up that they pray for either the whole period of one hour that they sign up for, or pray in that one hour period. It would be helpful for each individual to hand over to the next person with a rolling email of the pictures words and spiritual insights that they have encountered during their period of duty!
I recommend that we also fast during each Thursday. Fasting generally means not eating. This should not be done by anyone who is under medical care or receiving medication where not eating for a whole 24 hours is inappropriate. However what I have found in the past is that fasting is a good way to focus the mind on prayer and to bring to mind our dependence on God. It’s a sacrifice. If you feel hungry then pray. You should drink water and can drink other liquids if you choose to do so. However fasting for a whole day might be too much for you and just going without one meal might suit you better or giving up for the day something that we love doing – maybe not watching the news for a day or giving up our computer for the day – every time there is that little tug towards using it just pray for an end to the virus!
While we are fasting and praying we should pray for the health of the nation, for a rolling back of the coronavirus and for our NHS and front line workers and politicians who are managing this crisis.
If you would like to take part please email Beccy at firstname.lastname@example.org who will maintain the list.
Blessings to you and stay well during this challenging time