Interceding for crisis situations and injustice
Prayer moves the hand of God and changes the course of history. We live in a sin-tainted world where tragedy, danger and death are a daily reality. When the world is shaking around us, where do we turn? How do we pray?
“I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the LORD. Give the LORD no rest until he completes his work…”
How to pray for crisis situations.
When crisis hits we all want to do something. We want to help. We want to pray.
However, when faced with danger and devastation it’s hard to know how to pray beyond the instinctive “Help Lord!” So here are a few suggestions for turning empathy into intercession…
- Get informed: gather the basics of the story. What’s happening? Where? Who is affected? Who are the key leaders and who will be responding with aid? What are the needs right now?
- Pray for people: pray for those who are negatively affected. Pray for those who have their lost families, homes and hope. Pray for those who are still in danger. Who are the lost, vulnerable and forgotten in that society?
- Pray for the circumstances: what are the problems that only God can fix? The weather? Supernatural protection? Ask God to intervene.
- Pray for those in power: who are the decision makers that can impact the crisis, both the leaders in that country and those who can help? Pray for mercy, compassion and wisdom as they deal with the crisis. If you don’t know much about the nation affected why not learn more through the amazing Operation World resource.
- Pray for the Church: who can spread God’s love and God’s hope in the situation? Pray for pastors, churches and non-government organisations that they would be equipped with all they need to bring aid.
- Motivate others: If you are organizing corporate prayer, find ways of making the story personal. Find individual stories (with pictures, if possible). Find connections you or your group may have with the situation. Help to soften people’s hearts by making the crisis personal enough to understand.
- Share your prayer: use social media to share your prayer and inspire others to add their ‘amen’.
How to pray for justice
It can be a challenging and difficult process to try and work out how to pray for justice in our world. Issues of injustice can feel overwhelming it’s easy to wonder where we begin. Here are three simple suggestions for starting to turn our attention to prayer, to fight injustice and pray in the kingdom.
Jesus' disciples, on seeing the intimacy and depth of relationship he had with the Father, asked Jesus a simple question; "Lord teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1). Why not start by asking God how you can pray for the issue you’re concerned about? You could gather a group of friends together who share a similar passion or concern and use The Lord's Prayer to guide you:
- "Hallowed be your name" - Begin with worship. Jesus is Lord, even in areas of injustice.
- "Your kingdom come" - What does God's kingdom look like? How could His rule and reign change the lives
- "Daily bread" - What are the practical needs you see?
- "Forgive" - Who are the sinners and sinned against? What responsibility do we have to say sorry or to forgive? Pray for outbreaks of mercy
We have hope. God can and does change the world. Even the greatest injustice and the largest problem can be overcome by the power of prayer. He can do make a difference, and often chooses to act through our prayer and action. Ask the Lord for the gift of faith to see, pray and act for the redemption of the situation you’re concerned about.
Jesus teaches persistance through the story of the Widow in Luke 18. She knocks at the door of an unjust judge demanding justice, and he hears her not because of her case, but her persistence in pestering him. How much more likely is a loving Father God to hear and respond to the prayers of his children? We need to keep persisting in prayer even when nothing seems to be changing. There are many examples in the Bible and throughout Church history of major breakthroughs that required faithfulness through years of prayer.
If you want to commit to praying until you see change then here are a few suggestions to help you persist:
- Hold a focused prayer day or week - Why not try setting up a prayer room with a specific justice theme? Invite people to join you.
- Encourage daily prayer - Why not write some simple prayers from a passage like Isaiah 58, which focus on the issue of justice.
- Get outside - go to a place connected with the issue you want to pray for. Maybe a HIV Hospice or a Homeless Shelter.
- Pray with others - Gather a group of like-minded people - don't go it alone if you don’t have to.
- Be responsible - Some issues of injustice involve crime or danger, be sensible about what you choose to do and always enlist help and advice.