St Andrew's Church
St Andrew's Church Image Credit: Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Churches across the UAE may be closed for the moment, but congregation leaders in Abu Dhabi have urged worshippers to pray in their own homes.

In a video filmed remotely and released on social media, they called upon Christian residents to stay home amid the coronavirus pandemic, and pray at 7PM every day. Churches and other places of worship in the UAE are currently closed to avoid the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

The 10 leaders then went on to prescribe verses from the Scriptures that worshippers can use in their prayers, and set out a prayer regimen for the week.

“Together, we want to speak with one voice as members of the amazingly diverse Christian community who live, work and woship in the city. We want to speak to you today about the response to the coronavirus pandemic. We are living in a time where the most important thing we can do is to love God and love our neighbours. And we can do this by following the guidelines given by the UAE Government,” the leaders say in turn.

“The rulers are determined to contain the virus in the UAE, and they believe that the most effective strategy is in preventing, as much as possible, large and small groups coming together in the same physical space. This strategy means that churches are being encouraged not to meet together. Instead we need to find other ways of being community,” they continue.

“The most important thing that unites is that we pray to a God who loves us and hears us in our prayers. So we invite all who trust in God as our loving Father to join us in praying for the city of Abu Dhabi at 1900 hours. We encourage people to stop for five minutes at 1900 hours, because 19 is the number linked with this virus, and use the first letter of the day of the week as a guide to how we pray,” the leaders,” the group of pastors, reverends and priests advise.

They then spell out how to pray:

  • Sunday: Scriptures, such as Psalms 91:1-5, Psalm 121:5-8, John 14:27, Philippians 4:6-7, Timothy 1:7
  • Monday: Prayers for Medical personnel at the forefront of the fight, who need strength, alertness and endurance
  • Tuesday: Truth because accurate reports are a must in these perilous times, and so that truthful bulletins and correct information drown the proliferation of fake news and falsehoods
  • Wednesday: Wisdom because government leaders need great wisdom as they develop and implement necessary guidelines, measures and strategies to protect people
  • Thursday: Triumph so scientists around the world can find an antidote to Covid-19
  • Friday: Faith so that people can stop panicking, and trust God more, being a source of help and encouragement to others
  • Saturday: Prayers for the Sick to completely heal and recover.

“We are the church in Abu Dhabi. God has called us to bless this city, to pray for this city and to be faithful in our witness,” the video concludes.

In a press statement, the Department of Community Development, which oversees non-Muslim places of worship in Abu Dhabi, praised the efforts and honest prayers.

“This unique initiative comes in line with the regular awareness messages sent by the DCD to all houses of worship in Abu Dhabi, encouraging them to spread health awareness among followers and dedicate their prayers for overcoming the current challenges,” the DCD said, adding that these efforts greatly contribute to serving the community during these times.