, 27 March, 2020 / 7:15 AM
Christians and Muslims in the West African nation of Ghana observed a day of prayer and fasting Wednesday, March 25 using a ten-point prayer guide that detailed specific prayers against the spread of COVID-19.
Among the key highlights of the prayer guide was a call for thanksgiving, protection, and forgiveness of sins that have been committed by Ghanaians and the rest of the world that is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, the latter prompting repentance.
“Fasting is a period of humbling ourselves before God and asking for His divine favor at all times, especially the times of crises. The kind of fasting that the Lord approves is to approach Him with a repentant heart,” read part of the prayer guide that was prepared by the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs that links Ghana’s government with the country’s traditional authorities.
The government’s prayer instruction also noted that fasting was a call for national prayer and repentance since, “If a nation is in trouble, a prayerful and repentant response by Christians and other God-fearing people is always appropriate.”
The prayer guide further read, “We also need to confess our sins of any injustice against one another. Come out of any cruel act against others, stop any act of known sin. Then follow this with acts of justice, charity and kindness.”
The prayers were offered following President Nana Akufo-Addo’s declaration that designated March 25, 2020 a National Prayer and Fasting Day.
The President pleaded with Ghanaians “to pray for the intervention of the Lord whilst following the measures outlined to curtail the spread of the virus in the country and world at large as the number of recorded cases keeps going up.”
Following the President’s directive, Catholic Bishops in Ghana, on March 23 instructed all Catholic faithful in the country to join the state in observing this nationwide spiritual exercise to seek God’s intervention in the face of the global pandemic that has brought the world to its knees.
“In consonance with the directives issued on Saturday, March 21, 2020 at 9:00 p.m. by His Excellency, Nana Akufo-Addo, the President of the Republic of Ghana calling for a National Day of Prayer and Fasting on March 25, 2020 for God’s intervention to end the Coronavirus Pandemic in Ghana and in the whole world, we, your Bishops, further recommend that: All Catholics and People of goodwill observe the day as such,”, the Bishops urged.
The ten-point prayer guide included thanksgiving for peace, which the West African nation has enjoyed so far; forgiveness of sins on behalf of the nation and world at large; God’s intervention to stop coronavirus pandemic; protection of the healthcare team in Ghana and the world; and that God gives medics and scientists the needed wisdom and knowledge to develop vaccines that can combat the coronavirus as soon as possible.
The prayer guide included readings from various scriptures of the Bible for Christians and the Quran for Muslims.
During one of the prayer sessions, the General Overseer of the Perez Chapel, Bishop Charles Agyinasare appealed to Ghanaians to take the national prayer and fasting seriously against the coronavirus outbreak.
Referencing the spread of COVID-19 especially in developed countries, Bishop Agyinasare said Ghana was no match for powerful countries that were “unable to manage the situation.”
“What we need now is God. Our only hope now is to pray while we adhere to the safety measures in place,” the Bishop told Ghana’s local media, adding, “The wealthy countries such as the United States, China, Italy and others are unable to manage the situation. Ghana will have difficulties should we be hit like the others and so, we have to pray and ask God to intervene. We have to pray seriously.”
At the event, National Chief Imam, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharabutu declared a two-day fast for all Muslims across the country.
Beyond the March 25 special national fasting, the National Chief Imam has further urged Muslims to “observe another fast on Thursday, March 26,” read a statement from the Muslim leader.
In the meantime, many social media platforms were inundated with prayers and fasting to seek the face of the Almighty God for mercy and healing as the country battles with the fear and spread of the deadly disease.
Some social media users shared individual prayers on their respective forums calling on ‘the lamb of God’, ‘healer’, ‘Abba Father’, ‘Throne of mercy’, and ‘The God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’ to save the world from the dreadful pandemic.
“God, we pray for the favor You bestowed on the Virgin Mary to be our portion as a nation that stands before You today in prayer. We pray that the Holy Spirit would overshadow the nation, hear our prayer & heal our land. Give us a vaccine and a cure,” prayed Ken Ashigbey, the Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Chamber of Telecommunication and Parishioner of St. Theresa’s Parish in Accra.
He invoked God to “Protect the frontline health staff, comfort the dying, heal the infected, protect those not infected, grant wisdom to the President to take the right decisions & to us citizens to take the right decisions.”
“For God with You nothing is impossible. Grant us faith in Your Son Jesus Christ as we pray. May His Blood mark and sanctify us our Lord and our God,” Ken Ashigbey posted.
Ghana has at least 132 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and three reported deaths.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa