Think of it: Whether it’d be local news or a broadcaster’s edition of world and international news, we watch 10-15 news stories on any given night, with hours more spent reading online and paper news articles and navigating social media. Stories around the world, when read, watched, or heard, can move us to tears; more importantly, in the face of unmet needs and tragedies, they can lead us to prayer. While much of the world’s news contains stories of victory, healing, and joy, there are many more stories that can plague one with somber discouragement.
Sometimes, we see needs, near and far, only Jesus can fix, correct, and redeem. Over the next week (or at least in the coming days), be praying that the Lord, by His Holy Spirit, would quicken your heart and bring to mind those in the news (both over TV and the internet) as well as those in your own life who need to be prayed for. Pray that Jesus would show you the places in your own life, in your own heart, that need to be brought to light and given over to Him. Living in this fallen world, may we take notice of the things that matter all around us, and come to Christ in prayer over them.
The needs of those in Nigeria and its surrounding countries are very diverse, yet no less important than any other. May we keep these stories– and more importantly, the people who are involved in them– close to us.
Please pray for…
- The government of Nigeria. Almost one month ago, the people of Nigeria elected a new man into office: Retired General Muhammadu Buhari, an ex-military leader who ruled Nigeria for a short time during the 1980s. While many believe that Buhari will solve many of Nigeria’s problems, it is concerning that he is a muslim who has encouraged the enforcement of Sharia law in the mainly muslim North. Pray that first and foremost, this man and his family would come to know the Lord Jesus Christ in a real, intimate way. Pray that as He comes to know Jesus, He would be led by the Lord to bring others to Christ while being an overall strong leader for Nigeria. Pray also that the many politicians elected in this year’s elections would come to know Christ, that their hearts would be changed, and that, in doing so, Nigeria’s corrupted state would slowly heal. Pray for a peaceful relationship with the USA, as Obama takes steps towards relations with Africa & Nigeria. Lastly, pray that Jonathan would continue to peacefully hand over the presidency to Buhari, even as these details have emerged. Clink on the links for Nigeria’s government and Buhari for more information.
- The corrupted, violent state of Nigeria as a whole. Reading this account of the Nigerian elections in Rivers state opens ones eyes to the constant violence, injustice, and lack of order found in Nigeria. Corruption does not stop in Rivers state; in Yola, Nigeria, there have been grave reports of assault, rape, and human trafficking among displacement camps. Many of these problems are caused by the spiritual decay of this nation– where men “do as they see fit,” just as in the book of Judges (Judges 17:6, 18:1, and 21:25). Please pray for the very root of the issue: many peoples’ lack of knowledge about Jesus, as well as love and obedience to Him alone. Pray for a revival both in the government as well as in the hearts of Nigerians everywhere. Pray that as many come to know Christ, justice and peace would be sought for the victims of the horrendous crimes happening in Nigeria. Pray for the perpetrators; that they would know Jesus and the freedom & Truth of His love. Pray that as hearts are changed and aligned to Christ’s will, justice would reign. Click the links for more on Nigeria’s corrupt state and the situation of many people in Yola, Nigeria.
- Nigeria’s military. In February, elections were postponed for six weeks because of Northern Nigeria’s instability (due to Boko Haram activity). In the face of this– and a new African Union army, made up of approximately 7,500 soldiers from Chad, Niger and Cameroon to help Nigeria– President Goodluck Jonathan issued a six-week offensive against Boko Haram, promising that Boko Haram would be conquered by the time of the elections. While this promise was not completely fulfilled, two out of three states under Boko Haram’s control were liberated. Nigeria’s victories have been notable: with one major military leader in Boko Haram killed, 48 child soldiers rescued, and over thirty towns taken back from the terrorists including the important cities of Gwoza and Baga, There is much to be encouraged by. Yet, there have been many suicide and car bombings in the past few months, still terrorizing many. As the most recent development in Nigeria’s offensive against Boko Haram, the military planned an offensive in the dense, dangerous Sambisa Forest— something that, if successful, will be huge in stopping Boko Haram. Though the military had to retreat because of landmines within the forest, there is still hope. Pray that the men in this army would come to know Christ. Pray they would also be strengthened by His love for the difficulties ahead of them. Pray also for the success of the offensive in the Sambisa Forest; pray each leader, whether a general or a lieutenant, would have Jesus’ wisdom, skill, and strength to completely remove the Boko Haram from Nigeria and it’s surrounding nations. Pray also for the families of these soldiers; pray they would come to know and trust in Jesus during this uneasy time. May every man and women within this army look to Christ, the One who can deliver the Boko Haram into their hands, as He delivered Israel’s enemies into their hands (Joshua 6:2). Go here for more on Nigeria’s military.
- The Boko Haram. God’s Word tells us to “LOVE our enemies and pray for those who persecute us” and to “BLESS those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:15). How can we love and bless those who are out for our blood, considering us their worthless archenemies? Praying for– and even forgiving– these people this does not mean we need to over look or underrate the horrendous crimes Boko Haram has committed. It does not mean that the evil, traumatic events that have crushed so many are in any way justifiable. It means that we can cry out to Christ, relying on Him alone for the strength, compassion, and grace we need to see these terrorists as Christ sees them: human beings who do not know the One true God, His amazing Love, or the True, eternal salvation and forgiveness He has given us through His Son. These people are deeply deceived by the enemy. Yet, Christ can do amazing things in and through them, creating witnesses that would shock and humble the world with the magnitude of God’s grace and love.
Just think about it: Paul, once Saul, a man who mercilessly persecuted and killed many Christians, was completely transformed by Christ into a passionate, Loving apostle who boldly proclaimed the very name He once hated. If God changed that terrorist, He can surely change these ones.
Using this guide, Pray these men and women would be rescued from the dominion of darkness, and brought “into the kingdom of the Son He [the Father] loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). Pray they that they may “know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3). As they know Christ more, pray they would rid themselves of “anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from [their] lips” (Colossians 3:8). Pray Christ would destroy the insurgency and humble these people greatly, so that they might soften their hearts and minds to Christ’s gospel. Pray they’d know Him who truly sets us free! Click here for more on Boko Haram.
- The Chibok girls. This, I type with heartbreak. It has been over one year since these beautiful young girls were viciously kidnapped. Since then, Boko Haram’s leader has claimed they’ve been “married off” to terrorists and trained as woman soldiers. Those not married off are domestic or sex slaves.
Parents, riddled with fear and accosted by sorrow, rally and protest seemingly to no avail. Buhari, though hopeful, doubts that Nigeria can find and rescue all the Chibok girls. The hashtag campaign, #BringBackOurGirls, has lost much of it’s attention, though the founder has asked Obama to step up and help Nigeria find the girls. The Global Justice Centre has begged the ICC to investigate the kidnapping. Yet, no matter our efforts, we must remember that Christ is in control. Therefore, let us pray for the imminent release of these girls. Pray that Christ would comfort these women, their loved ones, and all other victims. Hope is not lost. He hears them. And to Him alone belongs salvation and justice (Revelation 7:10; James 4:12).
Pray also for the thousands of others who have had their lives and loved ones ripped away from them. Pray they would know Christ; pray they’d know He is near. Let us mourn with those who mourn, letting them know they are loved amidst the pain. Go here for more on getting to the heart of this situation and praying for their freedom.
To all those who feel led, I pray you’d make time to seek the Lord in all these matters. Let us listen to and apply the exhortation found in 1 Peter 4:7: “The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.” May we keep these people in mind, knowing that the fight is never over.
Do you know Jesus?
The fact that many people pray– that there is something in us that wants to pray– gives glory to God in that it shows He is omniscient, omnipresent, very Loving, and incredibly interested in our lives. Yet, there are many people who keep God at arm’s length, buying into the idea that He is a cosmic genie, “the big guy in the sky,” or the One you run to when all else fails. Do not misread this: God takes great joy when people seek Him, even in these somewhat ignorant ways. Yet, He is so much more than these things, and wants so much more with us. The amazing truth is, God wants a Personal, consistent, Love relationship with us. He does not want to zap us for our sins; on the contrary, He wants to save us all from our sins and graciously give us a new, eternal Life– both here and after– that can not be had any other way.
To read of God’s passionate love for mankind– and His plan for reconciling with us– read here.