It’s Saturday, March 28. And we are finishing our fourth week of Lent! We are coming together across many nations, miles and time zones to intercede for nations, peoples, and our brothers and sisters in Eurasia.
My name is Sandra and I’ll be leading you today in our scripture reading and intercession for the peoples of Central Europe.
Theme: God offers the nations His living water, if they will believe
Scripture: John 7:37-53 (The Message)
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 Eastern Mediterranean Field. The weekend before, we prayed for Northern Europe. On the second weekend, 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 nations of Central Europe.
The Church of the Nazarene includes in this field: Denmark, Romania, Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Kosova, Finland and Norway. The countries are grouped together because the Church of the Nazarene in each nation is judged to be at similar levels of development, making resourcing, support and leadership to them together more seamless.
Although the denomination shares similarities in development, culturally these countries are distinguished by incredible diversity.
Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Romania, Croatia, Albania, Serbia and Kosova share a Communist legacy. Norway, Finland, and Denmark are northern European in culture and geographic position. Two countries are home to large percentages of people who practice the Muslim faith. Others have a rich Catholic or Orthodox heritage. Affluence and poverty vary widely, including several of the richest countries in Europe, and several of the poorest.
All are impacted in various ways by the spread of corona virus, and many have closed their borders, ordering residents to remain at home except for emergencies or essential work. On March twenty-second, Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia, was shaken by its strongest earthquake in 140 years. This complicates the nation’s stay-at-home orders designed to slow the virus spread.
Here are ways to pray for each country:
Denmark—Danish people enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world. Despite a long Lutheran heritage, with 76 percent of Danes claiming membership, just 2 percent regularly attend church. Half of that two percent actually report being atheist or agnostic. Pray that although Danish people are secure in their affluence, they will become deeply aware of their spiritual poverty, and will hunger for a relationship with God.
Poland—Eighty-seven percent of Poland’s 38 million people proudly claim the Catholic faith. Yet, Because Poland is blessed with a thriving economy, many Pastors sayd that interest in God, especially among the young people, has greatly diminished. Pray that a movement of the Holy Spirit will overpower the forces of materialism and secularism, igniting a spiritual revival across Poland. Pray that millions come to a personal saving faith in Jesus Christ, and a missional spirit is unleashed across the nation.
Finland— A historically educated and wealthy nation, Finland still struggles to recover from the 2008 recession, a cause of worry for the aging members of its population. Prayercast.com says that over 80 percent of people in Finland identify themselves as Christians. The church is known for sending out missionaries to all nations. However, local church attendance has dramatically declined, with only eight percent attending a religious service once a month. Just three percent attend weekly. Some churches are adopting a secularized view of the Gospel. Pray that a Holy Spirit movement would reignite a national desire for repentance and a new, fresh pursuit of God anew as their source of hope and life.
Norway—Christianity became the state religion more than 1,000 years ago. Today, eighty-six percent of Norway’s 5 million people who are members of a church, mostly Lutheran, do not attend for worship. Affluence may have allowed Norwegians to become lukewarm in their faith, as their security and wealth comes from their own hard work and economic blessings. They have forgotten their need for God. A growing minority of immigrants belong only nominally to other faiths, leaving them open to the gospel. Pray that a new spirit of Pentecost would sweep across Norway, among the native population and immigrants alike.
Romania—Romanians still suffer from the lasting economic damage of Communism. About 25 percent of the 21 million people live below the poverty line. Romania has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. Pervasive drug abuse, prostitution, and pornography reflect widespread despair and generational cycles of broken families, even though 80 percent of people belong to the Orthodox church. A misunderstanding of Christianity as a cultural tradition obscures the possibility for a personal saving relationship with Jesus. Pray that a rejuvenated hope in Jesus would set the Romanian people free from the strongholds that enslave them.
Albania—Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Albania was ruled by a Communist regime. It has struggled economically ever since, remaining one of Europe’s poorest nations. The business climate is unstable due to subsistence farming and regular energy shortages. Evangelical Christianity is growing rapidly, but could be stronger in unity, and more robust in discipleship and maturity. Pray that Albania would be spiritually revived through a powerful movement of the Holy Spirit, and be freed from the principalities and powers of poverty and hopelessness.
Bulgaria—About 60 percent of Bulgarians belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church as a matter of cultural identity, even if most don’t attend regularly. Few know they can have a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Despite shaking off its Communist government years ago, the country is still oppressed by with corruption and economic stagnation. One area of Bulgaria, called Montana, is the most economically deprived area of the entire European Union. Most people in Bulgaria who want to make a better life for themselves and their children have emigrated to other parts of the EU. This rapid drain of young, educated, working families has crippled the economy further. A relatively large Roma population experiences tension and discrimination from the native Bulgarian population, and live in deep poverty, with high rates of abuse, prostitution, and broken families, and low rates of education.
Pray for God to restore Bulgarians’ trust in Him, and to turn to Him as their source of innovation and economic opportunity. Pray for the Holy Spirit to move across the Roma population, shattering strongholds of broken families, generational cycles of addiction and abuse, teaching them how to overcome discrimination and racism with love and forgiveness. Pray for God to bring unity across the nation, and a revived spiritual hunger for a true relationship with Jesus Christ.
Croatia—Although still bearing the scars from its Communist past and the civil war that broke up the former Yugoslavia, Croatia has recovered economically. Even so, many Croatians emigrate for better opportunities elsewhere. More than 90 percent of Croats are Catholic. Croatia has received an influx of asylum seekers from the Syrian civil war, and other countries where people flee threats and persecution for their ethnicity or religious beliefs. These immigrants have difficulty navigating the asylum process, and many are deported back into what they fear are life and death situations. Please pray that Croatians would recognize their deep need for God and pursue Him with all their hearts. Ask God to help those struggling economically to find hope for their families in Christ. And pray that refugees will be successful in receiving in asylum and be able to begin new lives in safety and peace.
Slovenia—Since achieving independence from the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia has been relatively stable and more prosperous than many of its Central European neighbors. Although Catholicism is the dominant religion, 54 percent claim to be Christian. The evangelical church does not have a strong influence in the growing secular culture. Pray that God would break through apathy and materialism to capture the hearts of Slovenians, and draw them into a national movement of love for God.
Kosova—Following a 1990s civil war, people still bear emotional scars. They grieve those who died, and some remember being refugees. More than two decades later, Kosova remains economically devastated, its unemployment rate at 70 percent. The vast majority of Kosovars follow a religion other than Christianity. Evangelical Christians are very few, and sometimes are quiet about their faith to avoid conflict with family or discrimination and persecution within their communities. Please pray that God would bring healing to the nation of Kosova. Pray for forgiveness and reconciliation, and that a movement of the Holy Spirit would turn the nation to Jesus Christ for renewal and new hope for their future in Him.
Serbia—Prayercast.com says of Serbia, “Forty-five years of Communism, inclusion in Yugoslavia, and the devastating Balkan wars that followed have all left Serbia with a bitter legacy and a desperate economy. The recent global economic crisis and the effects of war have led to high unemployment rates. A past littered with what most of the world perceives as ethno-religious hatred and cleansing haunts Serbia even today. Primarily Orthodox, 80% of the population claim Christianity. Over half of these would see their faith as cultural and part of their ethnic identity, leading to rampant nominalism.” Pray that the Holy Spirit would begin to work healing in Serbia by softening the people’s hearts toward God, leading them to a true national repentance, and reconciling them to God and others. Pray that God would make Serbia a people passionate about God and full of love and a missional spirit to serve their neighbors.
Hungary—Hungarians enjoy a stable post-Communist economy and society, but secularism has driven a national apathy about spiritual matters. Barely more than half of Hungarians identity as Christians. In recent years, new laws have drastically restricted religious freedom, making it very difficult for small congregations or religious organizations to exist, or to register with the government. Pray for Hungarians to see the truth of the gospel in the midst of an increasingly postmodern culture. Pray for the government to ease restrictions that are making it difficult for believers to gather for worship, and restricting open witness to the gospel.
Oh God, our loving Father,
Thank You for Your love for the people of Central Europe. Thank You that You are now and always at work among the peoples of Kosova, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Albania, Romania, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Hungary, Serbia, and Poland. You are crying out to them Your mighty love and longing to heal and renew them, even though many do not hear or see You.
Most of these nations have a long history of Christianity, and yet people have become lukewarm. Some could be described as post-Christian, where young people especially have not even heard the gospel story or ever been to a worship service. Others have been disillusioned by the failures of the Church to authentically preach a growing relationship with You.
Apathy and ignorance are among the most difficult strongholds to shatter. You said to the lukewarm church of Sardis in Revelation 3: “Now wake up! Strengthen what little remains—for even what is left is at the point of death. Your deeds are far from right in the sight of God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly and turn to me again. Unless you do, I will come suddenly upon you, unexpected as a thief, and punish you.”
And to the lukewarm church of Laodicea, you said:
“I know you well—you are neither hot nor cold; I wish you were one or the other! But since you are merely lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth!
“You say, ‘I am rich, with everything I want; I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that spiritually you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.
“Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me. Let those who can hear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”
Our father, we intercede with burning hearts for the peoples of these nations who only see faith as a ritual, a cultural tradition or an ethnic identity. For the millions who have never experienced the freedom and joy of repentance, and the beautiful transformation You offer to make them a new creation in Christ Jesus.
In Your faithful, prevenient grace, Jesus, wake them up! Open their eyes to see and their ears to hear. God of the angel armies, sweep across Central Europe in Your power and goodness to shatter the twin strongholds of poverty and wealth; conquer the principalities and powers of secularism, as well as the worship of other gods and idols. Break through the darkness of ignorance and our enemy’s efforts to deceive and distract with the brilliant light of Your Truth.
Where there are refugees and asylum seekers making a new life in these countries, please use this opportunity to introduce them to believers who know You personally. As they adapt to cultures where they can freely explore the Christian faith, open their hearts with curiosity and hunger to know more about You, and lead many to a saving relationship with Jesus.
As the nations of Central Europe are affected by the COVID-19 virus, and especially in Croatia, which was also struck with a powerful earthquake, please give wisdom and resources to treat the sick and to protect the vulnerable.
Father, we pray that You would grant each nation wise authorities and leaders who know You personally, and seek Your power and discernment to leave their people with integrity, compassion, and boldness.
In Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and Kosova, where high rates of poverty and unemployment strangle the potential of people to fully be all that You created them to be, please meet people in their despair and the exhaustion of subsistence living. Help them to see that true hope, joy, and contentment will come from You, not from obtaining material prosperity. But also, please intervene to break cycles of generational poverty, human trafficking and prostitution, abuse, addictions, and failure to complete their education. As You rescue people from these strongholds, show them it was You they have to thank, and enable them, in their gratitude, to commit their new lives to following You, and sharing You with others.
Lord, we know that only You can achieve such great miracles, and yet doing so would take no effort from You. You have all the power, all the wisdom, and You love each person in each of these nations. Please, Holy Spirit, continue to call the people to You, and to defeat our enemy wherever he opposes You. We believe You can do all these things, and we pray this in the wonderful name of Jesus. Amen.
Please join me again tomorrow to intercede with me on behalf of God’s people across Central Europe.