"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."
Blessed Lord acquainted with grief and suffering as you were bruised, maimed and slaughtered, hear our prayer for those persecuted by the power of corrupted regimes.
Hear the cry for freedom and social justice from your good children who are imprisoned for their love of the ordinary people:
· For the release of the human rights lawyer Mohamed Baker falsely accused and imprisoned in Egypt.
· For the release of teenager Mikita Zalatarou imprisoned at 16 in Belarus for protesting election results without proper legal representation and physically abused now held in solitary confinement.
· For Imoleayo Adeyeun Michael facing prison in Nigeria for protesting against Police violence.
· For Amal Fathy a leading women’s right’s activist jailed in Egypt for posting a Facebook video criticising the government’s failure to protect women from sexual harassment.
· For the international community’s approach to the growing Apartheid type policies in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories that result in home demolitions and evictions for so many Palestinian people and families.
· For the rights of women in Afghanistan
The crisis of the invasion of Ukraine embodies so much that is wrong in the world and so we continue to pray:
· For all those who have given so generously in offering to give practical support to Ukrainian refugees.
· For those of us who are not able to give practicable support let us pray that we may support those who can.
· In giving to the poor let us pray that we come to understand that in giving we only give back what is already theirs.
· Let us pray to understand better the link between our own actions and their far-reaching impact on those less fortunate than others.
· Let us pray that we recognise our collective responsibility in fuelling the conflicts and divisions in our society and across the world, through the way we live our lives,
through self-interest and through not crying out against the injustices we see all around us.
LORD IN YOUR MERCY HEAR OUR PRAYER
April 2022: PRAYER FOR UKRAINE AND ALL THE COUNTRIES IN CONFLICT
In Resident Strangers, A Philosophy of Migration, Donatella di Cesare tries to unravel how the land that God created for all has become the property of a few, and how Nations have put up borders that keep people in and keep people out. Ethically, morally, we have no more right to own land, or to live somewhere, than anyone else.
John Locke tried to make sense of what intuitively felt right, but for which there was no obvious basis in logic or philosophy. He came up with a solution that has become widely accepted, if deeply flawed, and the route to where we are now, “….every man has a property in his own person: this nobody has any right to but himself. The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property.”
This thinking goes deep and leaves us with a feeling of entitlement to everything we own even though its provenance is lost in the mists of time. Perhaps this is the root of all sin, structural sin as Pope Francis has termed it, a failure to acknowledge the impact of what we have taken but can never truly own. God gave us stewardship. He did not give us possession.
Bob Dylan’s Chimes of Freedom flashed for, “Those condemned to drift or else be held from drifting”. Those words of Bob Dylan written in the early 1960s ring true now more than ever. Today there are an estimated 80 million displaced persons in the world.
What is happening in the Ukraine is less about a despot seeking power than what Pope Francis has termed the “globalisation of indifference”.
The response to the Ukraine crisis has been overwhelming with prayer, donations and offers to house Ukrainian refugees. But is it enough? Can it ever be enough until we realise that God acts through us? We are His power. We must do more than respond piecemeal to each new conflict and its consequences. We must pray for understanding and discernment, to recognise the part we play, to recognise our complicity in living lives that impact indirectly and unknowingly on everything that happens in the world.
Let us pray for all those who have given so generously in offering to give practical support to Ukrainian refugees
For those of us who are not able to give practicable support let us pray that we may support those who can
In giving to the poor let us pray that we come to understand that in giving we only give back what is already theirs
Let us pray to understand better the link between our own actions and their far-reaching impact on those less fortunate than others.
Let us pray that we recognise our collective responsibility in fuelling the conflicts and divisions in our society and across the world, through the way we live our lives, through self-interest and through not crying out against the injustices we see all around us.
FEBRUARY: The Lord's Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
I love the Lord’s Prayer! It is a fantastic guide for teaching us how to pray, and when I look at all that is happening in the world right now, I am reminded of the need for prayer.
So why is this prayer, first prayed by Jesus over two thousand years ago, so powerful? Let me share with you five quick things…
1) It reminds us of our relationship with God.
Beginning with the opening line, Jesus tells us to start with ‘O Father in Heaven’.
We are children of the living God, and this is how we should approach Him when we come to pray. I am not sure about you, but sometimes the pressure and worries of this life cause me to forget that prayer is about a relationship and not a list of requests! God is our loving Father and we are always welcomed and invited to share with Him.
2) It reminds us of our need for God.
When Jesus spoke the words, ‘give us this day our daily bread’… I do not think he just meant the physical food we all need to survive. Our ‘daily bread’ includes our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs, all of which can only be truly met in God. I wonder what your needs are today?
3) It reminds us that no one is perfect - just in case you needed the reminder!
When Jesus says the words, ‘Forgive us our sins,’ he was pointing out the importance of confession. The reality is we all do things wrong and we need to learn to say sorry. That is why we teach children this important life skill from such an early age. If we cannot recognize our failings and say sorry, then our world will fall apart. Jesus reminds us that God freely forgives our sins when we confess them and this, in turn, helps us to offer forgiveness to those who have hurt or let us down.
4) It reminds us to keep walking a different way…
‘Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil’
While the world is full of all kinds of evil and countless temptations day by day, this prayer helps us to follow Jesus’ example - resisting temptation and walking in the way of peace.
5) It reminds us to submit to a higher and better plan…
‘Your kingdom come; your will be done’
Given all that is going on in the world and the many wars and conflicts that exist, because people are trying to establish their own kingdoms, we are reminded to pray for, and work towards, God’s Kingdom. God’s kingdom is one where everyone can live life to the full through Jesus, where the Fruits of the Spirit are on display and where we learn to walk in the way of peace.
So, this prayer is radical! It is counter cultural and is the prayer we need to pray to ask God to change us and our world.
Could you start making some time to regularly pray the Lord’s Prayer?
Looking ahead, I would love to encourage you and your church to join in with Thy Kingdom Come (TKC), the global wave of prayer that is taking place between Ascension and Pentecost (26th May – 5th June 2022). TKC is a fantastic opportunity to join with Christians from all over the world in praying for others to come to know the love and peace of Jesus Christ. There are loads of free resources on their website (www.thykingdomcome.global) for children, young people and adults, so why not join in with this prayer movement that is growing all over the world!
This month we continue to pray for Ukraine.
"What did you feel when you killed my husband?"
"Are you sorry for the crime you committed?"
"Yes. I admit my guilt. I understand you will never be able to forgive me, but I ask for your forgiveness."
"Why did you come to our land? What were you going to do here?"
"There was an order for us to go... and for me to shoot."
"Do you know about the "duty to disobey”?" (Permission to disobey palpably illegal orders.)
"Yes. I admit my guilt and am ready to bear the punishment."
These words were spoken a court hearing by the first Russian soldier to go on trial for war crimes committed in Ukraine. He is only 21 years old. He killed an unarmed civilian and has been sentenced to life in prison.
The need to pray is as urgent as ever.
Here are some scriptures to encourage us in our prayers:
The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
In the LORD’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water
that he channels toward all who please him.
1 Timothy 2:1
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
Here are some recent prayer requests from Ira Kapitonova, a Christian living in Ukraine:
Please, pray for people in the temporarily occupied territories (Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv regions). Pray for protection and God's mercy over them.
Please, keep praying for Moldova. Russia still wants to use occupied Transnistria as a platform for further attacks on Ukraine's south, namely Odessa.
Pray for the people who lost their jobs because of war and are trying to make ends meet. Most people either didn't have any savings or have already used them up.
Please, pray for wisdom in handling shortages. Fuel shortage is a big problem in Ukraine. It's either impossible to find gas or diesel, or the prices are double from pre-war times. The salt shortage is becoming a new problem because the largest salt production plant is in the active war zone now