RELIGION often provides comfort and a guiding light for people during times of uncertainty.

There is no doubt, we are all in uncertain times at the moment as most aspects of our lives are curtailed.

Whether its working from home or battling the boredom of self isolation, there are a number of challenges that the public are facing.

And things are no different for the Rev Marion Walford, of St Nicholas Church, on Canvey, who has written for the Echo about the news that churches must be closed and what this means for parishioners:

All church buildings must now be closed, not only for public worship, but for private prayer as well. This includes the priest or lay person offering prayer in church on their own.

This is the message we have received from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

Yes, I am sad, I am unable to pray in St Nicholas Church, where I have prayed since I was seven years old.

I am only too aware there are so many who have even greater reasons to be sad, who are anxious at this time because of the effect the Coronavirus is having on each of our lives.

The buildings are closed, but the Church is open.

The Church is not the building, it is the people of God.

Each one of us is the Church, wherever we are, whatever we face.

If we are not allowed to pray in Church, where shall we pray?

We can always pray anywhere, anytime, during this period.

Can we also set a specific time aside, find a specific place where we can pray?

I am encouraging people to set aside 9.30am each morning.

This morning the sun was shining at 9.30 am, if we have an outside space that may be ideal on the warm sunny days.

We will know that although we may be praying by ourselves, following the guidelines, we are also praying with many others.

We as a Church, have an opportunity at this time, as the body of Christ to pray and to reach out.

To reach out to those who feel alone, those who have nothing, those working tirelessly to care for those who are unwell, those who are dying.

Foodbanks remain open because of the generosity of so many, homeless shelters continue to care for the vulnerable.

As a community, as a nation, we have always pulled together in difficult times.

These are the most difficult days many have faced but this time it is different, in order for us to pull together, we must pull apart.

You will continue to be in my prayers, particularly at 9.30am each morning.