Word for the Month, March 2022 – Lent Interlude
As the invasion of Ukraine continues, and Cold War 2 heats up, we continue to urge you to pray for an end to the conflict at this time. Pray for the seemingly impossible, that Putin would seek peace and pursue it. Pray for those who are waiting to step in and try diplomatic peace negotiations. Pray for peace in the Ukraine, in Russia, in Europe.
Dig in with prayer; seek peace AND pursue it.
Just over a week ago we had the privilege of being present for the St. Davids Day Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast and associated events in Cardiff, our Capital city. This is an annual cross-party- led event. We weren’t there for any political reasons but because of our ministry of prayer, blessing and mission. At night-time the Senedd was bathed in the colours of the Ukrainian flag; in daytime, the Ukrainian flag flew alongside the Welsh flag. Similar scenes are to be found in very many nations. Invited guests included Ambassadors, Consuls and representatives from 20 European nations, plus USA and others. I had the honour of praying over them and blessing them and their nations across several days.
Christians are uniting to stand in unity with Ukrainian believers. Why? Because it is wrong in the sight of God for unwarranted destruction and slaughter to be poured out on a neighbour. Because our own conscience should tell us that the shelling of civilian residential areas in multiple cities is wrong. When we see the media images of distressed civilians, of millions of citizens fleeing their nation, uprooted from peaceful homes and becoming instant refugees in foreign lands, it is wrong. Doesn’t something deep within us cry out for justice for them? Not vengeance; an accounting. And of course, you and I know that God sees life in that way. We are all made in God’s image. That image is marred in all of us – not one of us is innocent – and the same God who won salvation for us is also a God of Justice and an accounting always follows. He hears the cry of the Ukrainian people. Wickedness and oppression always, always, ALWAYS loses. Judgement comes.
When we remember the spread of revival fires across Ukraine in recent years; when the Bible Society cannot meet the current demand for Bibles; when Christians are kneeling in the snow to pray, in underground stations, wherever they can meet; don’t we want to cry out to God?
When Ukrainian and Russian families are hearing that their children have died in battle, don’t we want to cry with those who mourn?
What about Putin? This war is his long-held dream, not the desire of the Russian public. The West’s response of ‘banks against tanks’, sanctions, is affecting the Russian population. Both Russians and Ukrainians are suffering for the sake of Putin’s ambitions. Should we pray, as some have suggested, that someone should ‘take him out’?
Make no mistake about it, if Putin attacks a NATO country it will open the possibility of WW3. Who on earth wants to see that?
How might we play our part by interceding for other front-line nations like Finland, not yet a full NATO member?
How then should we pray?
- Praying for Putin. As Christians we worship the Lord and giver of life. The issues of life and death belong to the Lord. We intercede for needs and we bless in the name of Jesus.
We have two important principles to hold to.
- We must never bless what is unrighteous or wicked.
- If we pray for death, we come dangerously close to witchcraft.
We can assess the situation and ask the Lord, the Ruler of All, to remove Putin from his place of power. We cannot tell Him how to do it. We must leave that in His hands. Perhaps pray like this:
“Heavenly Father, we lift up President Putin to you. For the sake of peace, would you please remove him from the place of power he occupies, and raise up a man of peace to replace Him. Father, we trust you to do this in whatever way best fulfils your purpose for Putin and for the nations. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
- Praying for other front-line nations. We can, and should, intercede for the nations that are also under threat from Putin’s ambition. The obvious prayer would be to pray for those nations, that the Lord would turn His face upon them, cause His face to shine upon them, and give them peace. We can pray that their borders will be safe and secure.
We can support this by blessing those nations; perhaps something in this manner:
“(nation’s name), I bless you in the name of Jesus, that you may receive blessing from the Almighty one. I bless your boundaries and borders, that he may grant you security and peace. I bless your people in Jesus’ name, that they may know His love and the life, love and joy that He wants to pour into them, from the richest to the poorest, the strongest to the lost and broken.”
It’s Lent. A time of preparation, traditionally of self-denial. We are all living in an exceptional time of stress, a moment in history. Could we perhaps seize this Lent period to set a pattern of daily prayer for Ukraine and neighbouring nations? Plead our hearts out for God’s intervention for peace in our time?