Welcome to the fourth weekend during our Lent journey! It is Saturday, March 21st. My name is Sandra, and I will be leading you today for our Scripture reading and intercession time.
Theme: God wants our love
Scripture: Hosea 6:1-6 (Living Bible)
During our Lenten journey, each weekend we are interceding for a different field of the Eurasia Church of the Nazarene. A field is a cluster of several countries where we have churches, and there are seven fields within the Eurasia Region. You can find out more about our fields and regions at www.eurasiaregion.org.
Last weekend we interceded for Northern Europe. The weekend before, we covered Commonwealth of Independent States with our prayers. The first weekend, we prayed over the nations of the Western Mediterranean.
This weekend, we will pray for the Eastern Mediterranean Field, also known as the Middle East.
In this field, the Church of the Nazarene includes Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, the Holy Land, and several areas we do not name for security reasons.
Here are some ways we can pray for the peoples of the Middle East.
In Jordan, just 4 percent of people are Christian. Fourteen of the 21 people groups in Jordan have not heard the Gospel. Though legally protected, many new followers of Christ are pressured to emigrate out of the country by legal and social discrimination, and by the rejection of family and communities. This results in fewer people remaining to bear witness to the transforming power of the Gospel, according to prayercast.com
With a population of 10 million people, Jordan is considered a stable country that welcomes refugees. It has taken 2.5 million Palestinian refugees since 1948. Since 2010, the country has taken more than 1.4 million Syrian refugees, most of whom have had nowhere else to go. Welcoming and caring for refugees puts a huge strain on the country’s services and infrastructure.
Lebanon, a tiny country with 6 million inhabitants, has also taken more than 1 million refugees. Many of these do not qualify for permission to take local jobs or receive permanent residency. And many refugee children do not have opportunities to continue their education. The nation’s infrastructure and attitude toward the refugees is increasingly strained.
Lebanon is the Middle East’s most diverse population in terms of religion. Forty percent claim the Christian faith, with 1 percent of those attending Protestant churches.
Following a long history of civil war, Lebanon has achieved a fragile peace and stability, occasionally threatened by acts of political violence. Mass protests against the government that began in October 2019 led to a partial change in government, but the political crisis and protests continue.
In several other regions of the Middle East, including Syria, divisions between religious and ethnic factions continue to fracture communities and nations. Political coups, and the organized militias of religious extremist groups, have killed and displaced millions. They have destroyed whole villages, towns, cities, and regions, as well as families and individual lives. As a result, large swaths of people have become disillusioned with religion. Such regional instability and war leaves behind destabilized societies, widespread poverty, shattered economies and infrastructures. Survivors suffer lasting trauma and grief. A generation of children is missing their education.
In the Holy Land, centuries of ethnic and religious conflict continue to divide the country, erupting frequently into violence. Barely two percent of people claim to be Christian, and these face legal and societal discrimination, and harassment. Christian missionaries are not welcome, and are actively opposed by other religions groups and anti-missionary organizations. According to prayercast.com, more than 80 percent of people in Israel are unreached with the gospel.
Here are ways we can pray for the peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean Field:
Pray for widespread growth in religious freedom, both legally, and in the dominant social attitudes toward matters of faith and the freedom to convert.
People from other religious backgrounds are turning to Jesus in large numbers. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to move in the hearts and minds of people across the Middle East, so that many more will find salvation in Jesus.
Pray for the multitude of refugees and displaced peoples who still have not found steady and adequate employment and housing. Ask God to meet all their needs, and lead them to places of safety where they can permanently settle and start new lives. Most of all, ask God to meet them in these places with the message of hope in Jesus. Pray for healing and forgiveness for those deeply wounded by the tragedy of war and for peace to reign.
Pray for Christians to commit to staying in their communities and nations, to provide a compassionate and faithful witness, and boldly spread the gospel to their neighbors. Pray for believers to courageously stand firm in their faith despite persecution and terror. Pray for the Gospel message to break through hearts hardened by longstanding divisions and intense rivalries.
Pray that the power and love of Christ and His people would shatter strongholds of hatred and prejudice, oppressive power and control, terror and death.
Ask God to raise up servant-oriented leaders at the local, regional, and national government levels. Pray that these leaders would love their people. Ask God to instill them with courage, integrity, wisdom, skills, and resources to expand freedom and opportunity for the people. Ask God to cultivate military and law enforcement personnel with honesty, compassion, justice and boldness to protect the innocent while fighting injustice.
Pray for reconciliation and peace among all the ethnically and religiously divided peoples of the Middle East.
Let us pray.
We come to You, our Heavenly Father, to intercede for the peoples of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, the Holy Land, and several areas we do not name for security reasons.
Every single person in the Middle East is your beloved children. You know each one by name. You know their dreams, their hopes, their fears, their challenges, their pain and losses. You created each person with the intent to have a loving relationship with them. And You grieve for all those with whom you do not have that relationship.
Our enemy has raised up seemingly insurmountable obstacles to prevent millions upon millions of these people from hearing about you or believing in you. Among those who all themselves Christian, many practice only as an outward cultural, ethnic or family faith, and still do not know that they can have a personal, growing relationship with you.
Our mighty and powerful God, in your love, shatter the strongholds of ignorance, deception, legal oppression and fear that separate the people from recognizing your presence and responding to your love.
Father, though it is the birthplace of Christianity, in some places the disciples of Your Son Jesus are few and cannot testify about You and preach the Gospel. Yet, you are reaching thousands upon thousands of people through dreams and visions. There is no power, human or otherwise, that can withstand your determined love that pursues people even when there is no church or Christian to tell them about you. Please continue to make yourself known to millions more, trampling over every earthly and spiritual principality and power that might resist you. Bring countless people to saving faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Please protect and heal those suffering from the trauma of war, abuse and violence. You who call yourself our Comforter, comfort those who are grieving separation from loved ones, the deaths of family members and friends, the loss of businesses, personal property, and their entire way of life. Replace despair and sadness with hope for the future, and opportunities to rebuild their lives in a place of peace and rest.
Holy Spirit, we ask that those who have chosen violence and extremism will become disillusioned in their beliefs and ideology. Please ignite a movement of repentance and transformed lives among those who have pursued paths of violence, hatred and control.
God of justice, we ask you to topple strongholds of injustice, corruption, discrimination, oppression, abuse of power, and selfish leadership wherever it might be found. Please raise up wise, compassionate, courageous, honest and just authorities across every level of society, from villages to national governments, and throughout military and law enforcement. Let your goodness, peace and justice pour out on the peoples. Restore freedom to worship across these nations. Cultivate widespread tolerance, reconciliation, and a hunger for peace and understanding.
We know that you have been already and continue to pierce through every place of darkness with your dazzling light of truth and love. We thank you for all that you have been doing and are doing to seek out and save the lost. Please show us continued opportunities to join you in your work across the Middle East.
We entrust all our requests to your great power, love and wisdom, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Today’s additional scripture readings are found in:
Join us again tomorrow as we intercede for God’s people across the Eastern Mediterranean Field. Watch a video about the field here.