The current conflict in Ukraine began a year ago with Russia’s ‘special military operation’ in the Donbas region. Will this year mark its end, or see it escalate? The praying church is God’s agent of change and has a decisive* role in what happens. [*strongly affecting how a situation will progress or end. Cambridge Dict]
The Spirit of Christ empowers us to live as his sent ones, people assigned to make a difference in his name (John 20:21-22). Prayer is at the core of being his agent of change.
This post will end with a specific prayer action, but firstly, these reminders:
- Agent of Change
The praying church is God’s agent of change, healing and reconciliation in the world. A lasting solution in Eastern Europe doesn’t rest with political peace brokers, but with God working through pray-ers (1Tim 2:1-2). The size and complexity of the conflict chessboard, and our inadequate grasp of the power-moves in play, can make our praying seem insignificant. But, in fact, our platform has more authority to influence the outcome than any government alliances. Mountain-sized barriers are removed as we plant our mustard-seed faith into the desire of God. He has chosen to blend our prayers into his plans for blessing the region in conflict.
- Admirers of Glory
The Lord gives us reasons to admire him in every situation. Admiration of his Glory is an eternal constant that makes a difference to what and how we pray. My July 2022 post, Praying for Toxic Rulers, focused on exalting the Lord’s perfect rule over all (Dan 4:17, 25, 32). We can’t grasp the full, complicated picture of earth’s troubles, their interrelation and how they serve God’s plans. But, we know enough about the love, mercy and wisdom of the Lord to admire his rule in every situation.
Is there more to ask for?
It is right to pray for leaders to know the Saviour, and to rule well (Rom 13:1-7). But, is there something more we should be asking for leaders in the Ukraine conflict?
A number of political leaders are involved, at various levels. The prayer action at the end of this post will focus on just one; not to reduce prayer for the others, but to focus prayer on the nerve centre of the conflict. How should we pray for that leader?
Scripture shows God dealing with rulers in various ways. For example:
- When Abimelech of Gerar took Sarah into his harem, the Lord punished the ruler as his action worked against God’s promise to Abraham. When the king accepted correction and returned Sarah to her husband, Abraham prayed for him and the Lord blessed the ruler by lifting barrenness from his household (Gen 20:17, 18).
- The spiritual roots of Cyrus, ruler of the ancient Persian Empire, were in a polytheistic faith that didn’t acknowledge the true God. Yet, the Lord referred to him as his shepherd and his anointed, and used him to end Israel’s captivity in Babylon (Is 44:28 – 45:13).
- God reduced Pharaoh’s power and influence by devastating his land, removing his heir and drowning his chariot army as they pursued Israel (Ex 12:29, 15:4).
- The Lord dethroned the rebellious King Saul and gave his office to David (1Sam 15:23-27). He not only took away Saul’s rule, but also his life (1Chr 10:14). Note: God establishes rulers (Rom 13:1), so prayer for their removal is not a quick go-to prayer to solve political chaos. But we want to be alert for the times when the Lord does give a green light for a prayer of removal.
Plan to pray together with someone else, or with a prayer group. Prayer authority rises when we pray together in agreement. Our prayer focus: Russia’s president.
- Admire the Lord’s perfect rule over all. Use scripture to exalt him as King, celebrate his reign and declare his rule over the conflict region. As a start, use the passages given earlier: Dan 4:17, 25, 32.
- Thank him for entrusting his church with the authority to be a prayer agent of change in situations that seem unsolvable. ‘Remind the Lord’ of two or three occasions in Scripture where he worked miraculous change in response to prayer.
- In praying for Russia’s leader, what does the Lord want your group to ask for? Is there an example from history to be repeated, viz. asking God to do it again – to bless, use, reduce or remove the leader? Pray, discuss, pray again…until there is agreement in your group on your specific asking point concerning the ruler.
- Return frequently to admiring the Lord’s rule over the conflict area.