Today is Saturday, April 4th! This is our final weekend of intercession for the peoples and nations of Eurasia. My name is Sandra, and I welcome you as we gather today to intercede for the nations of India and South Asia.
Theme: You have blotted out all our sins
Scripture: Psalm 85:1–7
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 Central Europe. The weekend before, we prayed for the Eastern Mediterranean Field. In the prior weeks we prayed for Northern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Western Mediterranean Field.
In South Asia, the Church of the Nazarene includes Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. There are also Nazarenes present in two other areas that we will not name for security reasons. You can learn more about the church in South Asia by visiting www.southasiafield.org.
Let us first look at India.
The nation now has a population of 1.3 billion people, nearly 80 percent of whom follow the Hindu religion. Christians make up just 2 percent of the population. According to Prayercast.com, 89 percent of Indians are completely unreached with the Gospel.
In recent years, India has made tremendous gains in economic growth and the movement of impoverished people into the middle class. However, it is reported, more than 360 million Indians continue to live in acute poverty.
Prayercast.com writes: “The caste system continues to hold great influence over the culture and remains a major bar to social mobility. To this day, it is difficult for people of lower castes to find jobs, no matter what their education or background. India’s infrastructure is unreliable, and political corruption is rampant.”
Increasingly restrictive anti-conversion laws make it difficult to share the Gospel. However, despite the intense persecution in some localized areas, and discrimination in others, Christianity is the fastest growing religion in India.
As of March 2, the country entered extended lockdown until April 14, as the government tries to stop the spread of COVID-19 respiratory virus. Police are deployed to enforce the lockdown, and people are experiencing panic.
Pray that a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit will break through India’s widespread strongholds of idol worship. Pray that the enemy’s use of deception and spiritual blindness to the one true God will be shattered. Pray that He will make Himself known to the people of India in whatever ways and means are necessary, even if they are unlikely to personally encounter a Christian or receive evidence of the Gospel.
Pray that Jesus will continue to dismantle the powers of discrimination, especially in the caste system, that oppress and obstruct people from living fully into who God made them to be. Pray against principalities and powers of corruption, of power-seeking, and exploitation that prevent people from raising themselves and their communities out of poverty and despair.
South Asia Field
Nepal—Nepal’s 29 million people are almost entirely unreached with the Gospel. The United Nations’ multidimensional poverty index describes 28 percent of the people as living in poverty, as of 2018, cutting its poverty rate by half over 8 years.
Prayercast.com writes, “Religious freedom is legal under Nepalese law, but restrictions are imposed on non-Hindu groups. Christian believers are at risk for fines and even imprisonment for” inviting people to follow Christ. “Though the percentage of Christians in Nepal is small, the number of believers is growing.”
Strict measures to prevent the spread of the corona virus lay heavily on the people of Nepal, many of whom are day laborers or subsistence workers, and do not have savings or food and water stored for a time of unemployment.
A Nazarene leader in Nepal says, “The general public is not allowed to go out of their house unless there is an emergency. It is very difficult for those depending on daily wages for buying their family food.”
Pray for God to give wisdom, strong leadership, compassion, and abundant resources to the country as they face a potential economic disaster. Pray for the hungry to have adequate food, the thirsty to have clean, abundant water, and for no one to lack for whatever they truly need. As the people grapple with the pandemic, pray that they would turn to the one, true living God to provide them what they need. Pray for a powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit across Nepal, that the entire nation would experience hunger for God. Pray that millions would find their joy and peace in Him.
Pray that the government and authority figures at all levels of society will extend favor and support to believers and churches.
Sri Lanka—The small island nation of Sri Lanka is home to more than 22 million people, 70 percent of whom practice the Buddhist religion. About 7 percent of the population are Christians, including 6 percent Catholics, eclipsed by other minority world religions such as Hindus, at 12 percent, and Muslims at 9 percent. The nation is known for its fervent religious practice.
The island has a primarily plantation economy. Since 2005, poverty has dropped to 7 percent.
Sri Lanka claims the honor of being the oldest democracy in South Asia, and is the first modern nation to have a female head of state. However, the people are still scarred and divided by a terrible ethnic and religious civil war that lasted from 1983 to 2009. War crimes and human rights violations continue to be investigated.
In March, the government ordered people to take voluntary precautions, including staying home, to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Pray for the continued economic progress, health and flourishing of the people of Sri Lanka. Pray that as they continue to develop, innovate, and grow, that material blessings and prosperity would not dim their spiritual hunger.
Pray that employers, landowners, and business people would bless and care for their employees and workers. Pray against the principalities and powers of exploitation and abuse.
As Sri Lankans faithfully seek enlightenment, pray that this especially religious nation would encounter the one, true, living God. Pray for the Holy Spirit to sweep across the nation, healing the scars, sorrow, and bitterness of war. Pray for a true movement of reconciliation between ethnic and religious groups, bringing peace and unity amid the country’s beautiful and rich diversity.
Pakistan—96 percent of Pakistan’s 204 million people profess the Muslim faith, the nation’s official state religion. People view their religion as cultural and a fundamental aspect of their national identity.
The nation is one of the most unreached with the Gospel in the world, with prayercast.com reporting 98 percent have not heard the gospel. The Bible has been translated into few of the people’s 70 languages.
Hindus and Christians make up a small percentage of the population; Christians number more than 2 million. Both groups experience discrimination, hostility, persecution, and often, deep poverty.
Christian prayer movements are rising up, and many people are accepting Christ as their savior for the first time.
According to the Hindustan Times news, the government has instated a partial shut-down to slow the spread of COVID-19, but many people defy it. Mosques remain open, and quarantine camps on the border with Iran are squalid and lack adequate screening procedures, the Times said. The state seems to be in turmoil as to how to respond to the pandemic.
Pray that in the midst of pandemic, government leaders and religious authorities would have wisdom, clarity and resources to combat the virus’s spread, and to protect the people without discrimination. Ask God for peace and cooperation – that they would reign amid uncertain, conflict and potential panic. Please pray for God’s gracious protection on the health of the Pakistani people, especially the poor and vulnerable, as the virus spreads. Pray that those who hold power and influence in government, industry and religion will not take this opportunity to engage in corruption, bolstering or expanding power, or instituting oppressive policies. Ask God instead to help the leaders act out of compassion and wisdom and love for the nation.
Pray that during this time, God will pour out the Holy Spirit across the nation. Pray that people will realize their need for God, and hunger for spiritual truth. Pray that Jesus will make Himself clearly and undeniably known to the millions who seek to know and please God with all their hearts. Pray also that God would use His people to shine a light in the darkness, to love and serve their neighbors, and to swiftly move through open doors to share about their hope in Jesus with family members, their communities and friends.
Bangladesh—Of Bangladesh’s population of 157 million people, about 90 percent claim the Muslim faith. Nature is the enemy for this low-lying country with extended coastline; Bangladesh is subject to repeated monsoon storms, violent typhoons and devastating flooding, all of which regularly drive millions out of their homes, destroy infrastructure, crops and livestock.
The people of Bangladesh have engaged in a long-term battle with poverty, pervasive pollution, corruption, lack of clean water and lack of education. The industrious people are making incremental progress in economic development, moving as a nation into lower-middle income status. Much of this progress is due to a movement of communities forming self-help groups who save together and grant each other loans to start up small businesses.
Despite legislating religious freedom, the minority of Christians and other religious groups experience social discrimination and persecution. Missionaries are prohibited.
A national lockdown, including a ban on passenger travel, was instituted through the weekend. Police and military have been deployed to ensure people follow social distancing and quarantine rules. The hardest hit will be people who are subsistence workers or day laborers, and those without access to clean water.
Please pray that the Holy Spirit will move throughout the country to open hearts and minds to Jesus Christ. Where people have never met a Christian or have never heard of Jesus, pray that Jesus Himself will appear to those who hunger and thirst for living water and the bread of life. Pray that strongholds of ignorance and idolatry would be broken. Pray for God to powerfully shatter principalities of generational poverty, corruption, oppression, exploitation and abuse. Ask God in His grace to hold back natural disasters that eradicate progress in infrastructure, and that destroy the businesses and farms families are cultivating.
Pray for God to instill industry and government authorities with wisdom, integrity, compassion and resources to lead the nation in rooting out corruption, and developing creativity and innovation. Pray especially for discernment and clarity about how to protect the nation from COVID-19, without harming the poorest and most vulnerable.
Concerning the countries in these two fields, a local Nazarene leader told us:
“There are countless people in each South Asian country (and even more in India) who are day laborers. After a day’s work, they take the money earned that day and buy food for that day. Because of the current coronavirus lockdown, most of us are not allowed to leave our apartment at all. That means that many of these day laborers are out of work; immediately out of money; and thus they are immediately or almost immediately out of food for their families. The food security is so low for these families that they enter into a serious crisis within just a day or two of losing their job.”
Let us pray.
Our Father in Heaven,
We bring before You the peoples of India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Thank You for blessing millions of people across this part of the world with growing prosperity, spreading access to clean water and adequate nutrition. Thank You that many more people are completing their education, starting their own businesses, benefiting from increased hygiene practices and better health care, and moving their families from extreme poverty into the lower and middle class.
However, millions remain in spiritual poverty, because relatively few people have heard of Your Son, Jesus. Generations have not even heard His name, or ever met a Christian. Hundreds of languages lack the Bible, and millions could not read it anyway, due to lack of access to education.
Father, we know that Your heart is heavy. That You grieve over the millions of people You love with all Your being, but who are unaware of Your love. You long for relationship with them.
God of the Angel Armies, we pray that in Your almighty, powerful love, You would shatter the powers, principalities, and strongholds that enslave people in ignorance about You. Holy Spirit, break through the evil forces that have deceived the people into worshiping other gods or following false religions. Set them free from their spiritual prisons by Your beautiful truth.
We pray that You would break the chains of oppression, corruption, discrimination, abuse, exploitation and ethnic hatred wherever it is found.
We pray that You would change the hearts of those in power, who use their power to limit religious freedom, and who persecute, imprison and harass believers. Cause them to end laws that seek to stop Your people from telling others about You.
God of all creation, we pray that You would grant people of these nations relief from natural evils. Hold back storms, hurricanes, droughts, and flooding that erase all the progress people make in improving their families’ lives and communities.
Jesus, we pray that as prosperity increases for millions in India and South Asia, that they would be grateful to You. Don’t let material blessings close their hearts to their sense of spiritual need. Instead, let them seek the one Who is blessing them, and find You.
Lord, we ask that You would cause a revival to sweep, across the whole region, bringing millions of people into the Kingdom of God, so that Your Kingdom breaks through into their families, villages, towns, and across their nations. Heal all conflicts; replace hatred with love, and usher in an historic time of peace that all the world will see could only come from You.
We pray all this in the name of Your son, Jesus, whom we trust and believe can do all this. Amen.
The additional scripture passages for today are from: