Archbishop Glenn Davies has appealed for Christians to be in fervent prayer as New South Wales entered a State of Emergency because of bushfires raging around the state.
As the state of emergency was declared, at least 17 people had died in Australia and more than 1,400 homes have been destroyed in bushfires since October. Three bushfire fighters have lost their lives in New South Wales.
Renewing the call for prayer he made at the start of the bushfire season, Archbishop Davies wrote to churches noting that many, especially in the Wollongong Region have been arranging special prayer meetings as well as practical offers of support to those affected.
"Our January Sunday services will give us all an opportunity for bringing our prayers to God for his mercy to flow, and indeed for rain to fall." Dr Davies said.
The Archbishop issued a special prayer, which asks for protection for the firefighters.
"Our hearts cry out to you for those who have lost loved ones, and those who have lost properties in the wake of these ravaging fires. Father we pray, in your mercy, restrain the forces of nature from creating catastrophic damage; in your mercy protect human life." the prayer reads. "Guard those volunteers, rural fire service personnel and emergency services who selflessly step into the breach to fight these fires. Guide police and authorities who help evacuate and shelter those who are displaced. Bring comfort and healing to all who suffer loss."
St Andrew’s Cathedral will be holding a prayer service on Sunday 19 January, as well as offering special prayers each Sunday.
The Archbishop, the NSW Governor and officials will attend a service at 1030 am on Sunday at the Cathedral, next to Town Hall, to pray for all those affected as well as those fighting the bushfires.
Dr Davies also commended the work of the Archbishop of Sydney's Anglican Aid, which continues its drought and bushfire appeal which has raised more than 300 thousand dollars and the work of Anglicare’s Disaster Recovery Response, where teams of trained Anglicare volunteers give practical aid such as helping prepare meals, providing clothing, bedding and towels for showers and helping with displaced pets.
On Sunday, 5th January, after a day of high fire danger and fires, the Archbishop tweeted "To all those praying for the safety of personnel and residents in #nswfires - I urge you to continue to call on God's mercy. Pray the break in the weather allows people to get to safety, refresh and give strength to the firefighters. For those returning, may God give you His hope."
The full prayer reads:
A prayer for Australia in drought and fire
Our heavenly Father, creator of all things and especially the creator of this land and its original peoples, we call out to you in these desperate times as fires have swept across several parts of our country.
Our hearts cry out to you for those who have lost loved ones, and those who have lost properties in the wake of these ravaging fires
Father we pray, in your mercy, restrain the forces of nature from creating catastrophic damage; in your mercy protect human life.
Guard those volunteers, rural fire service personnel and emergency services who selflessly step into the breach to fight these fires. Guide police and authorities who help evacuate and shelter those who are displaced. Bring comfort and healing to all who suffer loss.
Remembering your promises of old that seedtime and harvest will never cease, we pray that you would open the heavens to send refreshing rain upon our parched land.
In your mercy, we pray for drenching rain.
We pray that despite the forecasts, in your miraculous power you would bring forth rain to quench these fires and to bring life back into the earth, so that crops may grow and farmers may bring forth the harvest of the land again.
We bring these requests before your throne, in the name of your Son, who died and rose again for our deliverance,
Feature Photo: Jamberoo Anglican Church Senior Minister, the Rev Jodie McNeill, a volunteer bushfire fighter.