Gosford Anglican Priest, Fr Rod Bower, says he would support a national day of prayer as suggested by church group, Family Voice Australia, in response to the coronavirus, but he would prefer something that did not exclude people.
“If a National Day of Prayer were to be called to express corporate connectedness, love and compassion, I am all for it,” Bower said.
“However if it were to encourage the kind of thinking expressed by Margaret Court, that the ‘blood of Jesus’ will protect us from the virus, or the thinking in some churches that because communion wine is consecrated it will not transmit the virus, then such a day of prayer could be a very dangerous thing indeed.
“Perhaps it would be better, so as not to create division, for the day to have an interfaith foundation.”
But this would exclude people who did not identify as holding a faith, he said.
“This then brings us to the idea of a National Day of Deep Consciousness.
“The religious can pray, the spiritual can meditate, the atheist can practise awareness of the other.
“Whatever happens, we will definitely gain a deeper understanding of our connectedness.
“We will all be better off for that.”
National Director, Charles Newington, said that as the nation sought to manage the pandemic, and with so many people anxious, Family Voice encouraged the Prime Minister to set a day for national prayer.
“We ask for his leadership, not only to secure public safety, but to help calm a very anxious community by encouraging the nation to pray,” Newington said.
Fr Rod said that because Australia needed to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus, it was best that people did not participate in any unnecessary gatherings, and that included church.
His famous sign outside his church said this week to self isolate but not for people to be isolated.
“Social distancing does not necessarily mean total isolation, we must stay connected by phone, email, judicious use of social media and prayer,” he said.
But he said the author C.S Lewis said, “Prayer doesn’t change God, it changes me”.
Dr Rod said prayer would not cause God to divert a pandemic any more than it would encourage God to cause an earthquake.
“But prayer connects us to the ‘more’ and to each other,” he said.
“Connection is what we need now more than ever.
“Prayer is the space between us; so pray, hold each other in your deepest consciousness and in the Ultimate Consciousness.
“Let people know that you will intentionally hold them in your heart for 10 minutes (or more) every day.
“Light a candle for them, take a photo and send it to them, let them know they are loved.
“We are all inextricably connected, we are all part of the ‘one’, when you hurt, I hurt.
“Prayer is the intentional consciousness of that reality and it is powerful, more powerful than we can imagine; it can be felt.”
Media release, Mar 16
Family Voice Australia
Media statement, Mar 17
Fr Rod Bower