SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2013
Tonight as we gather for the 21st National Prayer Vigil, Lady Allen and I are pleased to unite with other believers here in St. Elizabeth, to once again lift up Jamaica before the Lord. It is the assurance of the power of prayer which inspires our participation in this prayer service organized by National Prayer Vigil Committee, through the St. Elizabeth Ministers’ Fraternal.
I wish to commend the Rev. Dr. Roy Henry and other members of the Committee for arranging this annual vigil and ensuring that each parish is given the opportunity to serve as host. I am confident that the preparation for the vigil also serves to strengthen the fellowship between the Ministers’ Fraternal in the host parishes. My prayer is that the fellowship will deepen among all Christians so that we may be effective channels of God’s love right across Jamaica.
In addition to sending a letter to President Zuma of South Africa on Friday, I take this opportunity to publicly express our support, as we have always done for the people of South Africa, who are mourning the loss of their legendary and loyal leader Mr. Nelson Mandela. We offer our comfort for his family who deeply grieve his passing. In tribute I say: “His life of faith and forgiveness is a model and inspiration for all people around the world, especially leaders”. Tonight we will pray also for the people of South Africa as we pray for our own nation.
All of us in this sanctuary, and those who have joined us courtesy of the electronic media, share the conviction that we are indeed a country in need of prayer. There are many aspects of national life which need fixing, and these cannot be fixed by mere human hands, but by the Right Hand of God!
So we come remembering the assurance in 2 Chronicles 7 : 14 that:
“If my people
will humble themselves and pray and seek my face
and turn from their wicked ways, then will I
hear from heaven and will forgive their sin
and will heal their land.”
My brothers and sisters, let us place our complete trust in the God who is unwavering in His promise to His people. We have the recipe for the transformation which Jamaica needs. We, the Church, are those who are called by His name! The Church in Jamaica is called to:
1. To humble ourselves because it is the Church which must lead the charge to prayer, including in our homes, places of business and in educational institutions.
2. It is the Church which must repent and seek God’s forgiveness. The answer to our prayers for Jamaica’s healing and transformation demands the faithfulness of the Church; and in this, every Christian shares the responsibility.
Some may question the wisdom of holding yet another prayer vigil for the nation, when our problems and social ills have not abated. Some cynically declare that these prayer vigils are ineffective and that our time would be better spent working on solutions. Others believe that God is not hearing our prayers because of the iniquity which is widespread in our nation.
But I say to you: let us not be daunted. Let us not be diverted from our focus and our mission. We as leaders and citizens alike must acknowledge where we have failed and seek God’s enabling to lead and live in accordance with His will. The Church must be the examples for the justice, unity, peace and healing all of that which we want to see in Jamaica and it must also be demonstrated in our lives.
These prayer vigils and intercessory moments must equip us:
- To truly care for our neighbour, for the poor, the vulnerable and the disadvantaged;
- These intercessory moments must enable us to stand up for what is right, regardless of the cost;
- To seek peace and pursue it in our relations within our families and right across our society; and in these moments we must
- Commit to strengthening each other through encouragement, warmly and effusively reaffirming that which is good and gently helping to change attitudes which are negative and corrosive.
Otherwise we will be like salt that has lost its ability to savor the meal.
Many of our leaders of State, in government, business and civil society are active members of their church. Our Mayor is a Deacon. I believe that with the prayerful support of the faith communities all across this land, they can be used by God to make a lasting difference in this country. So our prayers for God’s wisdom, guidance and protection for all our leaders should be continuous. As a nation we would do well to spend our energies, much of our energies, on prayer, rather than on the negative criticism which is regrettably rampant in our country.
We know that God’s timing is not ours, but we have seen proof that He is already acting in various ways in our land. Our duty therefore is to continue to be faithful in prayer and believe the promise of Jesus in Mark 11:24 which states:
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer,
believe that you have received it, and it will be yours”.
The organizers of this year’s National Prayer Vigil have called for our prayers on the theme of “Justice, Unity, Peace and Healing”. These are four necessary pillars on which Jamaica must be built if we are to forge ahead on our nation building journey.
Inasmuch as our country needs our fervent prayers, I want to tell you that it also needs our strong commitment to do what is necessary to correct or eradicate what is wrong here; as you know very well, faith without work is dead!
Let us open ourselves to be empowered by God’s Holy Spirit as we seek to:
- reduce the high levels of murder and other crimes which threaten our social and economic development and the very future of our country;
- Let us be empowered as we go forth to eliminate the behaviours and attitudes which result in senseless and fatal accidents on our roads;
- As we learn to respect and value every life which is a gift from God;
- As we love and nurture our children rather than abuse and ill-treat them;
- As we cry out against injustice and all forms of social inequity;
- As we reduce the level of illiteracy among our people especially the youth;
- As we build Brand Jamaica and cement a positive image of Jamaica in the global marketplace.
My fellow Jamaicans, we must maximize this opportunity to make Jamaica the country for which we can all be proud. As we “pray without ceasing”, let us be mindful that God is hearing every word and that He will respond in His time!
May our Eternal Father, ever Bless our land!
I thank you.