'Do not postpone your prayers!' urged the diocese's world mission advisor following news that elections in Nigeria have been postponed amid security fears.
Just one week before presidential elections and elections for governors and representatives from across the country were due to take place on February 14, the Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission announced they would be postponed until March 28.
Ongoing violence by Boko Haram in the north east of Nigeria had reportedly stretched the army to the extent that it was unable to provide security for the people during the elections.
Parishes across the diocese - which has been linked with the Church of Nigeria for 50 years - had been urged to pray for peaceful elections in February as the country braced itself for increased unrest.
Now, world mission advisor the Revd Andy Wheeler said those prayers were as important as ever.
He said: "There are diverse views on the reasons and necessity for the postponement, with reports that in addition to the security element, many voters have not yet received their voting card.
"We are encouraged to hear that many church leaders are of the view that the delay will allow a calming of the political situation, an improvement in voter registration and an easing of the security situation.
"But however we look at it, this remains a very uncertain and fearful period for our Nigerian brothers and sisters and we are urging churches to continue praying, and not postpone their prayers."
With the radical Islamist group Boko Haram stepping up murderous attacks in the north east, Christians are fearing for their lives and the survival of their churches in the region.
Archbishop of Kaduna Province, the Most Revd Edmund Akanya, whose diocese is linked with Runnymede Deanery, has described this as a time of great fear and uncertainty.
He said: “We are in great need of God’s intervention. The insurgency has seriously affected our churches in the north. Many in our congregations have relocated to other parts of the country which they consider safer. The outcome of these elections could be a deciding factor in the survival of the Church in these areas.”
Andy has written this prayer for parishes:
We lift Nigeria to you, at this decisive time in the country’s history.
We pray for the communities wracked by violence, and terrorised by Boko Haram. For the areas of the Niger Delta experiencing renewed insurrection.
We pray for those many areas where people's lives are blighted by poverty, corruption and poor government.
We pray that the Christian Churches of Nigeria would build vision and unity among the people and promote trust and hope for the future.
Lord, may the forthcoming Presidential Elections be conducted peacefully and fairly. May the results have the confidence of the people and bring about courageous leadership that addresses the country’s many problems and draws people together with a common purpose.
- Find out more about the diocese's link with Nigeria here.
- More prayers for Nigeria are available here.