Christians of all denominations respond to Pope's call to prayer for coronavirus

(Photo: Pexels/Brett Sayles)

Christians of all denominations have responded to the Pope's call to prayer in light of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Pope Francis wrote to Christian leaders asking that the wider church invoke "together the graces from Heaven" and ask "for the end of this pandemic". 

He used his Angelus blessing on Sunday to invite all Christians together in praying the Lord's Prayer as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Pope asked that Christians, whatever their tradition, respond to the coronavirus pandemic "with the universality of prayer, of compassion, of tenderness".

"Let us remain united. Let us make our closeness felt toward those persons who are the most lonely and tried," he said.

He added: "In these trying days, while humanity trembles due to the thread of the pandemic, I would like to propose to all Christians that together we lift our voices towards Heaven." 

In response to the call, Christians in the UK, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and 11 denominations in Scotland, were today uniting in saying the Lord's Prayer at 11am - to coincide with the saying of the Lord's Prayer at midday in the Vatican. 

Archbishop Welby said he would be joining in and "commending the world into God's merciful care at this difficult time".

"When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray he taught them the words that we know as the Lord's Prayer or the Our Father. This prayer gives us words to pray even when we don't know how or what to pray," he said.

The Rt Rev Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, welcomed the move.

He said: "At a time when normal life is falling apart it is wonderful when Christians come together.

"The Lord's prayer is a wonderfully comprehensive prayer and within it can be found all we need to say.

"I warmly commend Pope Francis' call for churches around the world to unite in this way."

Those taking part in Scotland are the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the United Free Church, the United Reformed Church, the Baptist Union of Scotland, the Methodist Church, Congregational Federation in Scotland, the Salvation Army, the Church of the Nazarene, and Redeemed Christian Church of God.

Christians are encouraged to use whichever version of the Lord's Prayer they feel most comfortable with.

The Conference of European Churches's President, the Rev Christian Krieger, and General Secretary, Dr Jorgen Skov Sorensen, invited Christians to participate. 

"During these times of global uncertainty, we need signs of unity and hope," they wrote in a letter to church leaders.

"The prayer that has been taught to us by Christ unites Christianity across space and time. Christians of all countries, and Christians of all times have addressed God with these words which invoke the coming of his reign.

"The world today calls us to be united. Not only fighting against this devastating pandemic, but also in order to support one another and to feel in communion, remembering to draw lessons from this crisis."

The Secretary General of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, commended Pope Francis for showing "the ecumenical hospitality for which he is known and respected" as he called on Anglicans around the world to take part.

"I ask all members of the Anglican Communion, and Christians of other denominations, to respond with similar ecumenical generosity and join in with this initiative," he said. 

"Many of us can no longer join together in person to pray and worship God, but we can join together, across the world, across our languages, across our cultures, across our denominations: we can join together to pray the prayer that Jesus himself taught us; to pray that God's will be done.

"Wherever you are on Wednesday, please join us at 11am GMT – or at midday in your local time – to pray the Lord's Prayer in your own language."

People taking part in the prayer are being encouraged to share a photo or video using #LordsPrayer.