The head of the National Council of Churches has called for a national day of prayer this Sunday, 22 August, as Australia continues to be gripped by the COVID-19 Delta outbreak.
Bishop Philip Huggins, who leads the Council incorporating the Anglican, Lutheran and Uniting Churches, The Salvation Army, Churches of Christ and Coptic, Greek and Syrian Orthodox Churches (among others), is encouraging Christians to pray the “Jesus Prayer”, a formulaic prayer used especially within Eastern churches, “Lord have mercy, Jesus have mercy”.
Huggins says Christians should pray this prayer, “as best we are able, as often as possible.”
“We can pray ‘Jesus have mercy’ anywhere, including whilst we are walking, even swimming! It is simple, yet profound, like Holy Communion,” he said in his monthly reflection.
“Over time, as a matter of grace, we may find the prayer is praying in us and has rather descended from the top of our head into our heart.”
Inspiration for the prayer is found in the story of the blind beggar in Luke 18:35 and his cry to Jesus for healing, but there are plenty of examples of prayers for mercy in both the Old and New Testament, including from the Psalms: “Our eyes look to the Lord our God till He shows us His mercy.” (Ps. 123:2)
Churches and individual Christians are encouraged to add to this prayer as they see fit, and fast “as they feel led”.
For 12 hours on Sunday 22 August, a team will host a Zoom Prayer call, featuring church leaders from around Australia. Anyone is welcome to log on for a short or long while to join in prayer for the nation.