praying for the Middle East


Photo Credit: NASA

The cradle of civilization. From high above it looks so peaceful. It is the confluence of myriad events and people, of nations which have risen and fallen throughout the millennia, and those which have endured, notwithstanding the ebb and flow of wars, alliances, and disasters.

Its beauty belies the suffering which is hidden by distance. Civil war in Egypt. Terrorism via suicide bombers throughout the region. Genocide in Syria. Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And now the likelihood that the USA will engage yet another war to punish Syria for using chemical weapons against its own citizens, killing at least one thousand people, hundreds of them young children.


Will the international community continue to pontificate, wanting to appear wise, and leave Syria to its own devices? Will they allow a dictator to continue exterminating his own people? Apparently, yes. Except for France and possibly the USA, depending on the results of the congressional debate and vote which will occur soon.

It’s a complicated issue. Russia reportedly is sending its own naval ships into the region in response to the elevated American presence. Putin is denying any wrong doing by his close ally, Assad of Syria. China also opposes any response, given their alliance with Syria’s government.

Every American president has a defining moment in his presidency. This may well become such a moment for President Barack Hussein Obama.

So, I call all followers of Jesus Christ to pray for him and for the congressional members, that they will gain wisdom in how to proceed.

I ask us all to pray for the people of Syria, those who are suffering on both sides of the conflict, and those who have access and power to initiate positive changes.

I ask us to pray for all the people in the Middle East, from Jerusalem to Beirut, from Damascus to Baghdad, from Kabul to Cairo, and throughout these lands.

May God raise up righteous leaders who will benefit their people, and remove those whose only concern is personal power and enrichment.

May God deliver young people from the bondage of militant thinking and terrorist training.

May those of us who live in relative safety remember our responsibility to wield power wisely, and engage tyranny when necessary, particularly when victimized citizens cannot help themselves in overcoming state-sponsored terrorism.

Do I want the USA to go to war again? No. But is it necessary? Quite possibly. Lives hang in the balance. Atrocities continue even after the mass killings which occurred recently.

Let’s do our part in prayer. Never forget, none of this has caught God by surprise. He knows what to do. May we seek him, and encourage our leaders to do the same so that we will better understand our responsibilities in the days ahead.

Do you agree with this post? Please consider sharing it with others. Do you disagree? Please feel free to comment respectfully.

Thank you.

Praying for Boston


It happened again. Another tragedy. Two bombs detonated near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon. Carnage and heartbreak. Heroism in the face of cruel cowardice. A deluge of details fill the news feeds, while family members and friends of runners and onlookers worry, pray, and hope for the best.

What do we who are far removed from the situation do now? I suggest prayer. Heartfelt, persistent, ongoing intercessory prayer. And as you engage in practical expressions of support, continue to pray. Just as you prayed in the aftermath of 9/11, or upon hearing news of the various shootings in recent months and years.

Be vigilant in your prayers for the victims and all who are impacted by the violence. And never stop trusting God. Even in the face of unthinkable horror, he is infinitely good. This is why we pray that his will be done on earth, even as it is in heaven. In so doing, we give full voice to our yearning for Jesus’ return to set the world to rights.

And until his return, we continue to pray in the wake of tragedy and in seasons of peace.

Boston, you are not alone in this dreadful heartbreak. All across the fruited plain and from the opposite coast, we are praying for you. God has not forgotten nor forsaken you. He loves you.

remembering those who served

Photograph by Glen Alan Woods

The bodies of my father, uncle, grandfather, and so many others in my ancestry who bravely served America now rest in military graveyards around the country. I remember them often, but especially on days like today.

Throughout America a tradition will be repeated. Military jets will conduct honorary flybys to pay respects to the fallen comrades who served their country with distinction. An inspiring sight to behold. This year I am content to remember the scene I witnessed and captured in the photo. It depicts a flock of seagulls enroute to their night’s resting place as twilight dances across the ocean waves. They call in the distance. Perhaps they pay their respects in their own right. I imagine it is God’s way of reminding us there is beauty to behold even in the midst of a world in which there is continued war, famine, atrocities, and their root: sin. It gives me hope that someday, when Jesus comes to set the world to rights, wars will cease. We will lay down implements of conflict and take up instruments of worship to honor him more fully. I long for that day. I yearn to witness his glorious appearance, whether in this life or in eternity, according to his providence.

But, I am mindful of my responsibility now to pray for the leaders of this nation and those around the world. I pray for the peace of the nations and their cities, not least Jerusalem. I pray for those in the military (American and foreign) who confront the tangible forces of evil in the forms of decentralized or national terrorism. Likewise, I am alert that my actions must give practical traction to my words and prayers by learning to love as Jesus loved: the unlovely, my enemies, those who are abusive toward me, those who cannot now and may never reciprocate any acts of love which God requires of me, and so on.

I pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

It will cost me. It may cost you should you be willing to pay the price.

Will you pray with me as we remember together those who served us valiantly, keeping in mind our part moving forward?

when a man of action is forced to pray

Learned of some troubling news this evening near the end of my commute home. A family member possibly in danger again. My immediate thought was to turn my car around and start driving. That thought was nixed. Rush hour. Multiple vehicle accident on a major highway, placing a strain on all the alternate routes. But the news demanded action. My action, specifically. Frustrating.

Pray. Cry out to God. Trust him to act. Exchange my weakness for his power.

Within the hour, the fear of immediate danger was past. Hopeful news. Yet deep concern persists.

So,  prayer continues. Into the deep watches of the night.

Prayer for the Nations

The world yearns in travail. Trouble assails on every front. Despair threatens to overwhelm. Will hope prevail? Will righteousness conquer evil? In Jesus Christ we have this hope eternal, that God has raised Jesus bodily from the grave. He who died for our sins is now raised up and seated at the right hand of the Father. He is our Great High Priest. He attends to our cries. He hears our prayers. He prepares for the hour of his glorious appearing.

Lord God, we bow our hearts before you even as we bow our knees. We worship you. We lay our affections at the foot of your cross so that we will express fidelity in motive and action. We ask forgiveness for our sins so that we may be in right relationship with you. We ask that you will purify our hearts so that we may worship you in spirit and truth.

And we pray for the nations. May you raise up leaders with hearts after you. May you direct the steps of nations. May justice for the hurting be prioritized. May peace be brought to theaters of war and conflict. May the hungry be fed, the naked clothed, the homeless sheltered, the orphan adopted, and the widow loved. Break our hearts of our selfishness. Turn the hearts of parents to their sons and daughters; the hearts of leaders to righteousness rather than personal gain.

Lord God you are righteous and holy. You are God. We yield our will to yours. Rise up, Lord and be glorified among the nations. Equip and unleash your church to be your ambassadors throughout all the world. Through your Holy Spirit heal the sick, reconcile the warring, deliver the deceived from wickedness. Dispatch your people among all the populations, ethnicities and language groups. May they be prophets who expose wickedness and raise a standard of righteousness; apostles in regions of scarcity; pastors over newly planted churches in all the lands; evangelists who clearly explain the gospel so that people can understand; and teachers who disciple those who believe. Give us courage that we might faithfully execute your purposes. And through it all, cause us to give you all the glory wherever we are, whatever we are doing for all the days of our lives.


Prayer for Children’s Ministry Leaders

As I write this, many of you who are children’s ministry leaders and team members are busy ministering in your churches and neighborhoods. Others of you from around the world have already done so yesterday. I am praying for all of you, that God will give you wisdom, strength, peace and joy as you lead little ones and those who influence them, parents and teachers alike, to a closer relationship with Jesus. Thank you for all you do. May the joy of the Lord be your strength and may the peace which passes all understanding calm your heart even in the midst of daily turbulence, so that in your faithfulness to fulfill your calling you will realize beautiful glimpses of God’s wonder in all that you do throughout your day.

New Year’s Prayers 2008 and beyond…

These are my prayers as we head into 2008 and beyond. God bless you as you enjoy your New Year celebrations with family and community.

I pray that the hearts of fathers would be drawn to their children and that the hearts of children would likewise be drawn to their fathers so that they would be orphans no more to any degree (Malachi 4:6; John 1:17).

I pray that husbands and wives would love one another, in mutual respect as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5; Colossians 3; One Peter 3).

I pray that wives and moms would be elevated in the heart of the culture (especially in the West) to a place of honor (Proverbs 31).

I pray that the religious leaders of our day, specifically within Christianity and certainly including me, would humble ourselves and pray, seeking God’s face. May we measure our words carefully and pray more so that when we do speak, we do so as unto the Lord (Two Chronicles 7:14; One Thessalonians 3:10; James 3).

I pray for local God honoring church congregations around the world (Two Corinthians 11:28), asking God to encourage them daily with hope (Romans 12:12), to give them wisdom in making choices and relating to their cultures (James 1:5), to protect them from the schemes of the enemy (John 17:11 & 15; Two Thessalonians 3:3), and to add to their numbers daily those who are being saved (Acts 2:47; 16:5).

I pray that families and individuals would plant themselves in their neighborhoods as salt and light (Matthew 5:13-14ff; Mark 9:50), the presence of Jesus Christ where they live, work and play, so that a standard of righteousness would be raised within the normal context of daily living and so that many would ask of the hope that is within them (Colossians 4:6), causing a viral wave of Christ-following discipleship throughout the nations.