A Hard Lesson on Prayer in the Midst of Oppression and War
7 And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7 (NLT2)
1 Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. Isaiah 62:1 (NLT2)
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ 44 But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. 46 Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! 47 And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that! 48 You must be perfect—just as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48 (TEV)
In these days, when there are wars in the world, battles in our communities, and even in our denominations, it is easy to pray for those we perceive as the victims, and ask God for revenge and curse those who oppose them.
It seems obvious today, in the midst of what is happening in the Ukraine – as the world takes sides, arms their military, and throws economic power around as Russia and the Ukraine go to war. There will be victims that surely need our help. but here is what is controversial….
both sides need our prayers. And we need to encourage them to pray for each other.
God has his people pray for those in captivity, and those who were their captives in the verses above from Jeremiah and Isaiah. He even called on the “victims” to do their best to help those who oppressed them. (think about Joseph – who did the same in Egypt – where he was enslaved!) God calls us to pray for enemies and those who perseccute us – and that means, in the case of two countries where there are Christians, we need to encourage them to pray for each other, and the leaders of both countries.
THis is true in the battles we see throughout our lives as well – we need to pray for those who oppose us, who make our lives a struggle.
Not easy, our nature is to protect what is ours, to defend those we love, not to love those who hate and hurt us.
Yet this is the call we have – as we dwell in the love of Jesus, who did exactly this for us. Don’t try to pray for them without meditating on God’s love first – it will be too hard. But think for the cross, think of His love and mercy and compassion demonstrated there. Find your peace, your refuge in Jesus. Know how much He loves you….
and then pray – for the Ukraine and Russia, for the leaders of both, and for those engaged in the fight. That they would know God’s love… and then that the Holy Spirit would bless them…. as He has blessed you!
By the way – do the same for those in your community, your workplaces, churches, denomination.