The UN says that the current global refugee crisis is the worst since World War II. These past few days have been a wake-up call. The recent news stories about the Syrian refugee crisis along with the picture of the little boy who drowned, have filled me with heartache and pain. I've been struggling with a sense of guilt – for complaining about my own silly problems when the world is hurting so much; and a sense of helplessness – what can I do to help those weary, terrified Syrians as they flee their homes and land?
I looked online, frustrated it seems that all I can practically do is send monetary aid to organisations like UNHCR, World Vision or Save the Children. Physically, there's not so much I can do myself. This has been on my mind for the past few days and I've prayed and sought God's help about understanding what I can do from my corner of the world.
And the word that came was “Pray continually.”
Probably the one statement I didn't really want to hear! I wanted to get to ground level and get my hands dirty. Help carry somebody's child as they trudged across the country; not pray. Prayer seemed so escapist in a way. A balm to soothe my conscience. To feel like I've helped. All very comfortable and non-threatening. And, to be brutally honest, so useless.
But God reminded me of these verses from I Kings 8 -
“Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day . . . Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people . . . when they pray. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.
When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people - being aware of the afflictions of their own hearts... then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart).”
And He is helping me understand that I can show my love and compassion for those struggling with so much loss, by falling on my knees and interceding for them. And not just me – we all can. As one body of Christ, brothers and sisters united across the world, we can pray for God to intervene in this situation. We are called to be watchmen – to stand in the gap and pray for those who are weak and broken. We are called to intercede for God's mercy and grace to fall on our hurting world.
So I'd like to invite all of you who read this and feel burdened to pray for the situation in Syria to join me over the coming month. As churches, life groups, communities and families – may we spend one hour a week, praying and interceding for this situation. You can choose the time, the place, and the day. I strongly believe that when we unite in prayer, God will move and we will see hope and peace come.
I've given a list of prayer points below that you can use as a guideline to pray. This is just a starting point. Please add to it. But I believe when you wait on God, He might give you a word of knowledge for a particular person or situation. My request is that you not only pray, but also listen to what God is saying – because in praying continually, He will show each of us avenues through which we can help in other ways. When this happens, we must be ready to move.
Before Jesus left the earth, He raised the bar on the most important commandment for all His disciples. He called us to love as He had loved us – by dying for us while we were still sinners. And not just that, but also to love as the Father had loved the Son – a love that unifies and glorifies the other, that gives honor to the other and finds complete delight in the other.
This is the love we are called to display to the world today. And we can begin to show that love by praying in our homes and churches; praying continually as the Lord has instructed us to do, even as He leads us to turn that love into action in myriad ways.
May His Kingdom come and may His will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven.
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