Bishop's Message

Lent Prayer and Word

It is the Lent season and we are in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic, which has rattled the world. While it has exposed human failings, it has also shown there is still human goodness in times of tribulation, as seen in the selfless services of the frontline healthcare workers and mutual help among people affected. All these have deepened the significance of the Lent season.

We do not know how the COVID-19 epidemic will unfold, but it is important to maintain good personal hygiene and be updated on government announcements and advisories. Remember, however, that the most important spiritual discipline of the Church is prayer. Prayer keeps our heart focused on the Lord and helps us grow and walk in His will. It enables us to love others as we pray for our friends, for strangers, the community, our nation and the world! We are able to experience God’s miracles through prayer.

We celebrate MCS 135 this year and have included “Lent Prayer and Word” sessions to commemorate the occasion. However, in view of the critical time we are facing, I urge you to first pray urgently for the following groups:

Pray for the healthcare workers

They are fully aware of the dangers of the epidemic but they also know it is their task to save lives. The virus spreads rapidly and it can be life threatening. Despite these real and present dangers, they are resolute in fulfilling the expectations that society has of them—that they help to heal the sick and save lives. They bid farewell to their own families and join the ranks of healthcare workers on the frontline. It is not unlike how Jesus Christ walked resolutely towards Jerusalem and to the cross to fulfill the mission of God the Father despite knowing that his life would be endangered.

Pray for the infected

As of 18 Feb, there are 81 confirmed cases in Singapore. They are understandably worried and afraid. The people who had contact with them—family members, relatives, friends, colleagues and neighbors—are anxious and troubled that they may have been infected. May they be filled with the peace of Jesus Christ, peace that is not of this world.

Pray for the general population

They have been receiving daily doses of news from official and unofficial sources, as well as rumors and hearsay. All this has spread paranoia and caused panic among the people. They are like frightened sheep without a shepherd to guide and assure them. Many may feel fearful, disturbed and troubled.

Pray for the church

The international spread of the COVID-19 virus has exposed the corrupt human nature and the frailty and capriciousness of life. The church has the responsibility to impart the message of respect for life and for all creatures that coexist with man on earth. The church has to call attention to the sinful nature of man and his need for salvation. She has to preach the gospel and share the love and grace of God so that man will revere Him and learn to love and help each other.

Pray for self

Crises are a time for self-examination and soul searching, like the psalmist has prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” (Ps 139:23)

I have cancelled all engagements that may prevent me from attending the “Lent Word and Prayer” sessions scheduled for Thursday evenings, 8 to 9.45 p.m., beginning in March. I want to be prepared for them. I know I will experience the beauty of communication of saints in the weekly prayer gatherings held in Methodist churches that are more than 100 years old. At the same time, I will be able to follow the example of the older generations of our Church in their prayer life.

Bishop Dr Chong Chin Chung was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore in 2016. He served as President of the Chinese Annual Conference from 2008 to 2016.