Prayer chain offers encouragement and support during pandemic

Hazel Hammond

Reporter:

Hazel Hammond

Email:

hazel.hammond@ulstergazette.co.uk

A TANDRAGEE minister is hoping to provide encouragement to others following the establishment of a prayer chain at his church.

Rev John Gray, of Tandragee Free Presbyterian and members of his congregation have been ensuring prayers are being said on an hourly basis for all those affected as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

As the crisis deepens across Northern Ireland, Rev Gray is hoping the prayer chain can be rolled out further to others wishing to pray for the current situation, our land and each other.

And, with many elderly members of the congregation now finding themselves in isolation, he believes the prayer chain “keeps people’s spirits up”.

“I was praying and thought it would have been a good idea to have a prayer chain,” Rev Gray told the Ulster Gazette.

“It originated to keep our own congregation together as so many people are isolated, especially the elderly folk, so I was thinking it was a way to keep in contact with them.

“What happens, I give members of the congregation or whoever wishes on the prayer chain a specific hour to pray every day.

“Most of them would be praying with their families each day and if someone is alone, they would be praying on their own, so it’s been encouraging for them.

“They pray at the same time every day. Every hour is covered in the day so there is somebody praying at all times.

“It has been going very well - The Lord says for men to always pray and not faint. The Lord answers prayers, but doesn’t always answer ‘Yes’ and sometimes can say ‘No’ and that can be a hard thing to take.

“One of the things we are praying for is that a vaccine can be found.”

Rev Gray said a WhatsApp group made up of prayer group members from near and far has been set up.

“There are over 120 on the prayer chain and there’s new ones coming in every day.

“If anyone has any specific prayer requests, they put it on the WhatsApp group and we pray.

“One of our missionaries is in Kenya, Miss Margaret Russell and she keeps in contact with us as well.

“She is originally from Tandragee and has been out in Kenya over 35 years and will be retiring this year God willing.

“We have been encouraged by it and especially for elderly folk, it has been a real source of encouragement. It keeps people’s spirits up as well as they can make their wee comments.

“It is good when they are in a group because it encourages them knowing that there are other people praying with them.

“Anyone else is welcome to join the prayer chain and if they contact me on 07407 020966, I will give them a time to pray and they can pray with us.

“We need to pray in these days for one another and that the Lord will in his Divine Will send a vaccine for this virus as we definitely need that sorted out. Hopefully the government can come up with this vaccine.

“I think everyone is apprehensive and in Northern Ireland and throughout Ireland and the UK, things are getting worse day by day.

“The numbers are doubling every day in London, so it must be quite frightening for people in London,” he said.

Having had to cancel all church services over recent weeks, Rev Gray has continued to get his Gospel message across to his congregation by recording weekly worship and making it available on the internet.

“It was hard to do but in the present climate, it was the sensible thing to do as you don’t want to bring people out into big gatherings.

“I have been recording the messages in the church, but it is empty and it is hard to speak to an empty church.

“It only takes me to go into church myself and stand on the pulpit and it is recorded.

“I think people need encouragement at this time,” Rev Gray added.

The services are available on the Tandragee Free Presbyterian Church Facebook page on Sunday at 11.30am and 6.30pm and a further service will also be provided every Tuesday evening at 8pm.

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