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Stephen Cottrell Archbishop of York PA Peter Byrne header2.jpg
Peter Byrne
Stephen Cottrell Archbishop of York PA Peter Byrne.jpg
UK News

Archbishop of York calls nation to pray every evening during lockdown

by Will Maule

As England heads into a second lockdown, the Archbishop of York is calling on the nation to come before God in prayer.

Speaking to Premier, Most Rev Stephen Cottrell admitted that it has been "a tough, tough year" and urged people to respond to the situation in prayer, knowing that "God can be present with us in the midst of the darkness".

"We are calling a call to the nation to pray," Archbishop Stephen told Premier. "Let's make this second lockdown a month of prayer, where we can renew our own intimacy with God, renew our dependence upon God, cry out to God, that God will give us the resources we need to get through this pandemic."

He insisted that we should be specifically praying "for our health service and other essential workers [and] for the poor", not least because the pandemic "is hitting our poorest communities much more than others". 

The archbishop urged people to make a habit out of praying at 6pm every evening during the four-week lockdown.

"Let's pray, just for a few minutes," he said. "And let's pray that God will be with us, his light shining in this darkness." 


Earlier this week, Archbishop Stephen, along with the Archbishop of Canterbury and several other faith leaders, urged the government to recognise the adverse public health implications of closing places of worship during the lockdown.

In the letter, the group insisted that there as "no scientific justification for the wholesale suspension of public worship" and insisted that it would support social cohesion and mental health, offering "an essential sign of hope" at this most difficult time.

Archbishop Stephen told Premier that their letter sought to "put down a bit of a marker with the government about the nature of faith", and that was important not to let the government assume that public worship is a non-essential or an optional add-on at this time. 

"The danger is that there may be some people in government who started to think that perhaps worship and prayer was a leisure time pursuit," he explained. 

"It's actually fundamental to our identity to who we are, and you can't, on the one hand, be very grateful that the church and other faith communities are so active in providing food and shelter and resource for our communities. And then, on the other hand, cut off the oxygen supply of our worship from which those things flow.

"So we felt we needed to put down a bit of a mark. But of course, we will abide by the law. Of course we will. And of course, that doesn't stop us supporting the government." 

At the conclusion of his interview with Premier, Archbishop Stephen issued the nation with a formal call to prayer:

"This week with my dear brother Justin, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and with other Christian leaders in this nation, as we go into the second lockdown, we have called the nation to prayer. It's a long while since we've done anything like this, but this is such a difficult, uncertain, challenging, painful time for our world.

"We believe that the one thing that we Christians are always called to do is to open ourselves up to the goodness, the beauty, the good things that God can give us in Jesus Christ. And we do that by prayer, by prayer for our nation, by prayer for our health service, by prayer that God will help us to get through this time, and to build a better world.

"So let me offer this prayer for our nation. And let me encourage you to join in this call of prayer, particularly at 6 pm each day, and you can find resources for prayer on the Church of England website where you'll also find this prayer which I offer now:

"Loving God at this time of crisis, when so many are suffering, we pray for our nation and our world. Give our leaders wisdom, our health service, strength, our people, hope. Lead us through these parched and difficult days to the fresh springs of joy and comfort that we find in Jesus, our Lord, Amen." 

You can get hold of the Church of England's prayer resources here

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