Over this last year our society has faced unprecedented challenges and trials presented through the emergence of the COVID virus. We have seen terrible suffering and loss of life, particularly among older people. We respect the tireless efforts of both the Irish and British Governments over the last year to mitigate the loss of life on this island and to prevent our health systems from being overwhelmed. We also acknowledge the heroic efforts of our many front line workers in serving us so well in such a stressful environment and in face of such unrelenting challenge.
However as ministers of the Gospel we have also seen the wider effects of the virus and restrictions that have been imposed. We have seen older people dying on their own, and families unable to even properly grieve with their friends and loved ones. We have seen the widespread economic devastation as a result of the ongoing lockdown, and loss of dignity suffered by those who have been denied the right to provide for their families. We have witnessed the loneliness, despair and general sense of hopelessness that has engulfed the hearts of so many of every age in our societies as a direct consequence of what in the Republic of Ireland has been one of the longest lockdowns in the EU, and one of the toughest in the world.
Sadly, we have heard of many young people in our communities who have taken their lives in tragic circumstances. These stories are heart breaking because they were not simply numbers or statistics: fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and children whose lives can never be replaced. It has therefore been a great frustration for us as pastors, in this time of darkness and despair to have the doors of our churches closed, particularly when we know that they are open all over Europe. To have to tell people to stay home, when we know well that their mental and spiritual health would be helped by coming to church is deeply distressing.
People desperately need hope, and we believe that hope is found in the Gospel of Christ. Ecclesiastes 3:7 says that “there is a time to be silent and there is a time to speak.” Clearly, that time has come, and we cannot, and will not remain silent any longer. We must speak up, but we must also reach up. While we reach out to our fellow man, we reach up to God in prayer and supplication. While we face many challenges, the answer is not found in protest, but in prayer. “In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer” Psalm 109:4.
In light of this Christian Voice Ireland is calling for three days of fasting and prayer for the island of Ireland from Friday 16th to Sun 18th of April.
Ultimately, we recognise that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but rather it is spiritual in its source. While we may not always agree with decisions taken by our political leaders, and at times we won’t even agree with each other, we believe that prayer can make the difference between life and death, success and failure. Proverbs 21:1 says that “The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” We will see the governmental and wider societal changes we need only as we stand united in prayer and repentance.
Joel 1:14 says to: “Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.” Over these three days as the Body of Christ in Ireland we will be gathering online to pray for wisdom for our Governments, freedom of religion, reopening of churches and society, hope and healing, repentance, revival, spiritual awakening and the return of the fear of the Lord to our lands. Christ said in Matt 17:21 that “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” There are some chains that can only be broken by prayer and fasting.
It’s clear that our people need freedom, and our generation needs hope. "I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest” Isaiah 62:6. In light of these numerous and unprecedented challenges we as the Church must rise up with a holy boldness as watchmen on the wall and stand in the gap and pray. Change will come. Breakthroughs will manifest. Answers will be seen. We must simply take our place in prayer and refuse to be moved. “This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” 2 Chronicles 20:15.
We are not alone in this storm. God fights for us, and He has never lost a battle yet! We hope you can join us over this weekend of prayer and fasting. More information at Christian Voice Ireland FB Page.
God bless you,
Pastor John Ahern