ISIS has become a terrifying reality in the Middle East. Thousands have been persecuted and martyred by this network of Islamic terrorists. It can seem hopeless reading and watching news reports of violence and persecution of Christians in the Middle East. What can be done in the face of such evil? Fortunately, we have one of the most powerful tools to combat this evil: prayer. These four prayer strategies can effect real change in the Middle East.
Set Your Eyes on Jesus
If you decide to take up the assignment to pray over the crisis in the Middle East, it is so important to keep your eyes focused on God and not let your heart become weighed down by the horrific forces of evil, says author Lorraine Marie Varela. When we pray, we are in an offensive position to defeat the enemy as we come into agreement with the purposes of God – the God of love, of mercy and of justice. God is the answer.
God also makes Himself known through His name. In Psalm 23:1, He is the Shepherd. In Exodus 15:26, He is the Lord who heals. In Judges 6:24, He is the Lord of peace. These are just a few of His various names and titles throughout Scripture that direct attention to His character. It’s so important that you are in tune with the nature of the One you serve. Each one of these previous attributes is meaningful when praying for the situation in the Middle East. When we recognize that He is our Shepherd, our Healer, and our Peace, we can then effectively pray to meet the needs of those who have been – and those who are – persecuted for the sake of the cross and trust in God’s ability as Healer.
Remember That Love Overcomes Evil
The ISIS message is rooted in deception, justifying the beheading of Christians who they believe carry cross delusion filled with spite against Islam and Muslims. These captors do not recognize that we live out a different message – a message our Father taught us: to bless and love our enemies, to bless those who curse you, do good for those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use and persecute you. This message of love is far stronger than hate and this good overcomes evil. Remember, darkness did not win. Love triumphed over death. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). When we love, we are able to place God’s heart on display. Love is very important when discussing the terrifying reality in the Middle East. It is crucial for love to stand in the face of ISIS. If you want to partner in the purposes of God, love not only your brothers and sisters who are your friends, but also love your enemies – pray that they might know the love that is coming after them.
Pray to Release the Presence of God
Since the beginning of creation, the Spirit of God has been present. The final name and title of God revealed in the Old Testament is announced in the last verse of Ezekiel, translated, “The Lord is there”. His name alone reveals His presence and His power.
Dreams are also powerful tools to break through the darkness in the Muslim world because many Muslim people understand and respect dreams and their meanings. They believe their dreams are a way for them to hear God and believe those dreams bring truth. Whenever a prophet appears in a dream, they are especially attentive. Varela suggests the following: Pray that God will reveal His presence over the Muslim world through dreams and visions. As many Muslims begin to have encounters with Jesus through this powerful demonstration of love, pray that He will be revealed to them not just as a prophet but in His identity as Immanuel, “God with us”.
Pray to Release the Armies of God
It may be hard to see the end of the story right now but it is clear. Every knee will bow in the name of Jesus. In Romans 14:11, “It is written: ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.” Our God of love will stand in the face of ISIS for the final victory. Pray to release the armies of God who bring light into a world of darkness. Pray that you will be enabled to join with God’s army of believers, boldly releasing His purposes on earth through the power of His name. Ask God to release His love in the midst of this evil and turn those with the hardest hearts to look on His face and receive His mercy while there is still time. Even in the face of evil, pray that God will forgive and make your heart like His.
There are so many ways to pray. Speak from your heart. Pray Scripture. During your Bible reading, if you come across Luke 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” turn that verse into a prayer. “Lord, I’m going to trust that You will bring peace to this world, particularly in the Middle East. You are the God of peace and all these things are made possible through You”. Any prayer made in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is powerful. For more ways to pray for the Middle East, read “Love in the Face of Isis” by Lorraine Marie Varela.