Syria: How can we pray? Andy Freeman - 4 Sep 2013
If you’ve watched TV news anywhere in the world in the last 7 days it’s likely that Syria and the prospects of military intervention from Western nations has been front and centre. Chemical weapons, a bloody civil war, a massive refugee crisis.
I wonder how you’ve found trying to pray about it - not easy I expect. I have to admit to hating these sort of situations. Cases being made for military strikes, details of aircraft carriers, missiles and warplanes. How do you pray?
One word I’ve heard a lot recently is justice. How can those responsible for using chemical weapons be brought to justice? How can there be justice in the region? Again, that’s a funny word. When I hear it used it sounds like people want a price to be paid, or something to be punished.
Maybe we can pray for God’s justice in Syria?
When we look at the life and words of Jesus we see God’s justice as something entirely different. God’s justice invests in those who many think are beyond God - he hung out with tax collectors and sinners after all (Mark 2:13-17). God’s justice upholds the poor and the voiceless - He speaks for them (Matthew 25:31-46). God’s justice lauds the peacemakers and the humble (Matthew 5:1-12). Most of all God’s justice asks us to look at ourselves first before we start considering others (Matthew 7:5).
50 years ago, Martin Luther King gave his great ‘I have a dream speech’. King sought to gain justice against oppression a different way. He said:
“As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation -- either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”
So how do we pray?
Why not set aside 5 minutes each day for the next week to be silent and ask God what he feels about Syria. Pray as you feel led.
Who are the voiceless, oppressed and marginalised in this conflict. Pray for them. Explore groups like Tearfund who are working with refugees in the region. Is there anything you can do to stand with the poorest and most vulnerable?
Who are those that can make a difference here? Pray for our leaders.
Who are those you most struggle with in this situation? Maybe those you’d call enemies or whose views you struggle with - pray for them with love and ask God to be at work in their lives.
How does this situation challenge us? Think about this globally - many Western nations own munitions tipped with uranium or use other weapons which are cruel and destructive. Think about this personally too ... what demons do we need to confront?
Lastly, whatever we do, let’s pray for Syria. I want to ask you to take a pen and write Syria on your hand. Leave it there. Don’t wash it off. Lets pray with passion and perserverance for this nation which needs us.
Pope Francis has also called for a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria on the 7th September
Images are used by permission in accordance with commons copyright license terms:
Feature image is a derivative of the image 'Feb. 14, 2012. Thousands attend the funeral in al-Qsair.' by Freedom House.