Gathering in prayer for India, in the grip of a COVID-19 disaster

Sydneysiders will gather in prayer this evening at St John’s Anglican Cathedral in Parramatta, west of the CBD, as an expression of solidarity and care for India and the current COVID-19 crisis the country is experiencing.

Yesterday, India recorded a bleak new record: 379,257 newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases in just one day. The country now has the second-highest number of cases (more than 18 million), behind the United States.

The World Health Organisation said India accounted for 38 per cent of the 5.7 million cases worldwide which were reported to it last week.

Experts have warned that the reported figures in India are significantly undercounted, with some suggesting daily case numbers are likely closer to two million. The death toll is also rising, with images splashed around the world of hundreds of funeral pyres burning in parking lots in the middle of New Delhi.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that the Indian population in Australia grew by 11 per cent in one year, from 2018 to 2019. People born in India now comprise 2.6 per cent of the Australian population. Parramatta, in Sydney’s west, has one of Australia’s largest Indian communities and there is a lot of anxiety here about what India is experiencing.

David Ould, minister at St John’s Anglican Cathedral, said he knows many in his community are “very concerned” about the current situation. Tonight’s prayer service is one way to express such concern.

The prayer service, which also will be live-streamed from the church’s Facebook page, will be attended by the Consul General of India, Manish Gupta.

“Deep bonds of affection our local community has for the Indian people and nation.” – David Ould

“Tonight’s service helps in a number of ways,” Ould told Eternity.

“First and foremost it’s always right to turn in prayer to our Heavenly Father for all of our concerns, particularly for those things we’re most anxious about. We pray knowing that God is sovereign and powerful to act, and we also know he’s gracious and kind.

“It’s also a powerful expression of solidarity and care for our brothers and sisters here in Australia (and, not least, at the Cathedral in Parramatta) who come from India – as well as the wider Indian community. In a sense, we ‘mourn with those who mourn’.”

Ould said the prayer service also offered the wider community to come together and express their concern and demonstrate the “deep bonds of affection that our local community has for the Indian people and nation.”

“When we’re praying, we need to keep in mind a couple of things. God is powerful and can act, but also that he will do what is best and, ultimately, to his own glory in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Scriptures teach us that there are no simple answers to suffering, but there are profound ways of thinking about it that find their deepest expression in the cross of Jesus where he also suffered,” said Ould.

Here are some of the prayers that will be offered tonight by members of St John’s Cathedral and the Indian community of Parramatta:

For Wisdom and calm 

Sovereign Lord, you are the hope and healer of your people and have promised a world where there is no more sickness or crying or death.

By your death and resurrection you have set your people free from the penalty of sin and death.

We pray your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Please prosper the work of those who are seeking a vaccine for the coronavirus, please strengthen those who are treating the sick, please comfort those who are mourning the loss of loved ones or living in fear of this disease.

Please give to governing authorities wisdom in their management of this crisis, and give to your people your peace beyond understanding, generous and wise hearts and a renewed trust in your sovereign goodness and glory.

Turn the hearts of many now experiencing fear and anxiety that they they may find that peace which is the fruit of the death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen.

For Governing Authorities 

Lord of heaven and earth. Give wisdom to all those in authority in every land and especially for those who govern India.

We pray especially for President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government.

We pray for those who govern all the States and Union Territories and the districts within them. Give them all wisdom and wise counsel, that they may lead their communities to respond to this crisis with calm and generosity. Assist them to govern for the good of all.

Enable India’s leaders to properly resource and support all the necessary services in such a way that their communities maintain peace and safety.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

For God’s mercy and care 

Dear Loving Father,

You are the loving God of all the nations and peoples on this earth. Please look with mercy and compassion on all you have created.

This day we ask for your help. Please deliver us from the coronavirus and limit its impact on India, Australia and the world.

In your mercy bring a swift end to this crisis. Please protect with your loving care those we love – our families, friends and neighbours; those who are near and those who are far away. Let your fatherly hand guide, shelter and strengthen them. Cast out all anxious fears and doubts.

Give us an increasing trust in you and fill our hearts and minds with your peace.

We pray for those around the world now struggling with COVID-19 and especially at this time for the nation of India. Heal and comfort those who are sick and suffering. Protect and guide the health professionals who are at the front line.

Please give wisdom and courage to those who bear responsibility for confronting this challenge.

We ask these things through the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.

For God’s People

Lord God, we give thanks that you are always attentive to the prayers of your people.

We pray for your people throughout the world, and most of all tonight for those in India. Strengthen us with them for our witness and work in the world. Assist your people to boldly confess our trust in Jesus, and speak of your grace and glory to our anxious and fearful world.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

For Future Hope

Sovereign Lord, you alone are the hope and healer of your people all across the globe.

You have promised us the hope of a world where there will be no more sorrow, sickness, or dying. Comfort and heal, merciful Lord, all who are in sorrow, need, sickness, or any other trouble.

By Jesus death and resurrection, you have set your people free from both the penalty of sin and the fear of death. Give us a firm trust in your goodness, and bring us into the joy of the bodily resurrection, and the fulfilment of all your precious promises.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

You can watch the prayer service online tonight from 7pm AEST, on the St John’s Anglican Parramatta Facebook page.