As Singapore celebrates its 54th year of independence, it is important for the Church in Singapore to remember the faithfulness that God has shown towards our country through the years.
This is why the National Council of Churches Singapore (NCCS) holds an annual National Day Thanksgiving Service—an ecumenical event that sees Christians from all walks of life gathering to give praise to God for yet another year of blessings and peace, and to pray for the country and its leadership.
Bishop Dr Chong Chin Chung was invited to give the sermon at this year’s service, which was held on the evening of 15 Aug 2019 at St Andrew’s Cathedral and themed “Pray and Give Thanks for Our Nation and Our People”. He referred to 1 Timothy 2:1–3, where Paul instructed his young protégé on how best to guide a congregation: how Timothy should lead his church in prayer; whom they should pray for; and how it should be done.
Bishop Dr Chong exhorted the congregation to do as Timothy’s early church did: “that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people, for kings and all those in authority”. Here, Paul explained that the reason for praying for kings, rulers and all who are in high positions, is so that “we may lead a peaceful and quiet life”, that there will be no wars, rebellions and unrest. This also sums up the purpose of the annual Thanksgiving Service as a deliberate and corporate effort of the Church to not just pray for those who are in need, but also for those who are in positions of leadership and decision-making within Singapore.
Bishop Dr Chong concluded his sermon by pointing out that by praying for others—such as for those who are not our kin or have any form of relationship with us, or even those who may have wronged or grieved us (be they individuals or even those in authority)—is ultimately spiritually self-beneficial.
For it is only through prayer that we will find our hearts humbled, our indignation softened, and our will bent towards God’s. And prayer for the well-being of others is in fact a godly response to earthly challenges that is pleasing to the Lord, and uncommon in a world obsessed with individualism.
“Remember this—that for the past 200 years, since our founding, the Christian community has always prayed for the leaders and the people. We will continue ceaselessly to pray for all people, for the leaders and those in power,” said Bishop Dr Chong.
“God wants us to cherish our nation and put in our best to ensure that Singapore continues to be an enlightened, righteous, upright, peaceful and vibrant country.”
Jason Woo is Methodist Message’s Editorial Executive.
Photos by Alvin Phang and Tung Yan Foo