“It is thus an inherently Christian task to actively work at un-thinking the inevitability of the way things are and to labor accordingly at changing them.” —Jill Carattini, of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
PRAYER: (from the Lectionary)
“Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of His redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of His most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, AMEN.”
SCRIPTURES: (from the Lectionary)
“These I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy…for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:7 NIV)
PRAYER FOCUS: Our Hurting World
It has been a really bad week. Genocide in Iraq. Civil War in Libya and Syria. Ebola in Africa. War in Gaza.
Iraq’s Christians and religious minorities have been subjected to the greatest mass murder since the Holocaust. Until the past few days, this has gone on largely without a peep of condemnation from either Western governments or Western church denominations. One Christian blogger, Stacy Nott, sums it up thus:
Beheading children. Sawing them in two. Raping women. Killing men. Displaying heads on sticks in a park. Reports say that some parents, rather than see their children starve or fall into the wrong hands, have thrown their own children off cliffs…
In our world, today, they’re marking doors for destruction. Chew on that. Can you swallow it? (Between Blue Rocks)
Courageous Christian leaders such as Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako, of Mosul, and Anglican Canon Andrew White “the Vicar of Baghdad”, continue to testify to the ongoing genocide. They minister to the suffering Iraqi survivors with minimal resources, and at enormous personal risk.
A civil war is breaking out in Libya. Western nations are evacuating their diplomats and embassies, as law and order degenerates into open sectarian warfare. Hundreds have been killed in Benghazi and Tripoli, with hundreds more wounded. Hospitals are overflowing. The fighting is getting worse.
Civil war has not broken out in Syria, it has become the status quo over the past three years. The dominant rebel group—ISIS, once heralded by some in the West as the answer to Syrian dictator Assad—is the same group that is now conducting the wholesale slaughter of Iraqi Christians, even as they did in Syria. According to several estimates, well over 100,000 Syrians have died in the fighting, plus those who are being murdered in the subsequent atrocities (including beheadings and crucifixions) committed by the ISIS fighters.
An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus has killed one thousand people in four countries in West Africa, with thousands more infected and still more in danger of becoming infected. Other nations are moving to quarantine the disease-stricken ones, as global health organizations estimate this outbreak threatens to continue for months and take many thousands more lives. Despite the looming plague, Christian relief organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse continue to send medical supplies and personnel into these stricken areas.
In Gaza, Palestinian officials estimate that airstrikes and shelling have wrecked at least 10,000 houses and seriously damaged 30,000 more. Israel has been targeted by more than 3,000 rockets and thousands more mortars. Scores are dead and thousands are displaced from their homes.
All this in just one week. As our good friend Stacy says, “chew on that” for a moment.
What can we do?
As Christians, we first respond by praying. Prayer is our first weapon to fight back against the evil in our world. Prayer is our first touch in ministering to those who are hurting. Prayer is our first step in the journey of deliverance and freedom for those who are oppressed. A praying Christian refuses to come to terms with an unjust and fallen world. In prayer we stand, alongside each other, together with the faithful saints from all generations, against suffering and injustice, against the evil sent forth by the enemy of our souls.
Because, Christian, despite all appearances, this is still Our Father’s world, a place where nothing is impossible. A long time ago mankind lost dominion of the earth through an act of sin that still curses us. But God’s unchanging Word reassures us that curse was broken on the Cross. What we see today is not the end state of either mankind or the planet we share together. Through the suffering and triumph of the Risen Christ we gain more than personal redemption, we gain the courage to turn and face His enemies with purpose and resolve.
We do what Jesus did. We pray for yet-unseen possibilities. We pray against the deception and evil that keep us bound to Creation’s fall and not its redemption. We pray for the amazing grace of the Father and the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. We cry out to the One who has laid claim to vengeance, and who measures justice both in heaven and on the earth. We join our prayers to Jesus Christ, He who is Faithful and True, He who crushes injustice and fear, He who declares with all authority in heaven and on earth, “I am the way, the truth, the life.”
Dear Christian, do you feel overwhelmed by the tremendous scope of the evil on display today? If so, be assured you are not the only one. Our words fail us, too. We ask, where do we even start to pray?
So let us kneel and begin with the words we do know:
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name…”
Let us pray as we are led. We know that through our prayers, we unleash the absolute power of the Holy Trinity. We flood every situation, every circumstance, every place and every nation with the righteous will of the Almighty Godhead. This is why the prophet Isaiah declared, and our Lord Jesus repeated, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
Do you want to make a difference today? Do you want to make a difference right now?
Make your desk, your office, your car, your home, your room—wherever you are—a House of Prayer.
For all God’s people.
It’s Monday Morning. The world outside your window is hurting. It desperately needs Hope and Love and Healing. Pray for it. Pray for it now.