7 Days of Prayer: Sunday, 21 January 2024

By Justin Long

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Join us in beseeching (δέομαι) the Lord of the Harvest this week for…

1 This week, we pray for the “less seen” crises in the world. An annual report from CARE highlights 10 situations that rarely see much media coverage. We pray for workers and the church in each of these countries to be a blessing in the midst of these very challenging situations.

  • Zambia, in a climate crisis: erratic weather patterns (floods, followed by extreme temperatures and months of drought), has led to the inability to grow food. 60% of the country lives below the poverty line, and 1.3 million are food insecure.
  • Burundi, one of the world’s most densely populated countries, also having one of the highest rates of malnutrition, tens of thousands of refugees, and high inflation.
  • Senegal, where the rainy and dry seasons have become less predictable, and food prices have risen sharply in the last year.
  • Mauritania, one of the poorest countries in the world. Usually dry, 2023 and 2022 saw severe floods. A quarter of the population are dependent on humanitarian aid and live in poverty, and 12% of children under the age of 14 are forced to work.
  • Central African Republic, where armed conflict has dominated life for a decade. Over half the population were in need of assistance and protection last year.
  • Cameroon, facing armed conflict in the north, northwest, and southwest, with more than 2 million people displaced (out of 28 million), and 1 in 6 needing aid to survive.
  • Burkina Faso, wracked by armed conflict and military coups, with more than 40% below the poverty line and 10% displaced from their homes.
  • Uganda, one of the poorest countries in the world, hosts more than 1.5 million refugees (mainly from S. Sudan, DR Congo, Somalia and Burundi).
  • Zimbabwe, marked by low income, food shortages, high inflation, and climate change. Two-thirds of the population depend on rain-fed agriculture, and the rains are erratic.

2. We continue to pray for the war in Sudan (“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted,” Psalm 34:18). The RSF has been gaining ground. Many states are arming self-defense militias. Ethnic and communal militias are also mobilizing. The specter of full civil war and  anarchy is on the horizon. Over half a million displaced refugees are now fleeing Wad Madani, recently taken by the RSF—who is also trying to take the al-Jazirah breadbasket state. Aid agencies are having to relocate and consider new routes for their work.

  • We pray for the workers, churches, and people who are enduring trauma that will mark their lives for the next decades. “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted” (Psalm 34:18).
  • We pray especially that God would turn the hearts of the ‘kings’ in the surrounding governments would take more humanitarian action on behalf of the refugees (Proverbs 2:1).

3. We pray for the many Africans in West Africa once again taking the “migrant road” from Niger to Libya in the north. Many will suffer along this path of desperation.

  • Pray that believers will be able to intersect these paths and find ways to be a blessing.
  • Pray also that believers in the destination countries will have compassion and love for these migrant workers (1 Peter 4:9, “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal and a place to stay”).

4. We pray for the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who have been deported from Iran and Pakistan back to Afghanistan—over 80% women and children. Few of these have adequate shelter and food, and their survival during the coming harsh winter will be a challenge.

  • We pray for some sort of initiative to successfully help them. I have no idea what this might be, but God sees and loves each of these refugees.

5. We pray for the believers and churches in India, especially as the new Ram Mandir temple in Ayodhya nears its opening. While many laud its potential to draw global pilgrims and the $9 billion renovation project that has been conducted in the area, others think it will become a focal point for religious nationalism.

  • Pray for believers and churches to endure and respond with wisdom and love to the growing pro-Hindu nationalism and increasing persecution.
  • Pray that, reminiscent of Paul, the spiritually hungry who journey on pilgrimage to this remarkable new site will be met with dreams and visions of Jesus, and believers who will help them discover the Way.

6. We pray for the churches in China who continue to endure increasing levels of oppression, control and persecution. A new article in CT points out that “Xi Jinping’s primary goal is not cultural assimilation but political domestication.” Yet there are almost certainly more than 100 million Christians in China, more than most other countries.

  • Pray for the believers and church leaders, who have already endured so much, to continue in their spiritual race.
  • It’s been said that China is ruled by men, not laws. So, let’s together pray for the conversion and discipleship of China’s political leaders!

7. We pray for the spiritual transformation of North Korea, so that “those who are walking in darkness will see a great light” (Isaiah 9:2). Two different news bits this week brought the nation into our view: first, that it has ranked #1 on Open Doors’ annual World Watch List (“the most difficult place in the world to be a believer”); second, that the North is no longer “interested in reunification” with the South—it has “formally abandoned peaceful reunification as a policy goal… and instead views the south as an enemy that must be subjugated, if necessary, through war.” What this rhetoric will mean in reality is unclear, but sabers are certainly being rattled.

  • Pray for the believers in North Korea to endure the difficult daily challenges.
  • Pray for peace, if not in word then at least in deed, to continue between the North and South. A war in this area, even if blundered into, would be devastating for the region and chaotic for the world.
  • As with China, let’s pray together for the conversion and disciples of North Korea’s leaders. Once upon a time, North Korea was the “Jerusalem of the East.” We pray it will be so again.

Thanks for your feedback on last issue’s format tweak. We continue it through this week’s issue. This week’s is a little longer due to item #1, but I felt it important for us to pray for the “less seen.”

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Where do these prayer requests come from? This is a weekly guide to beseeching (δέομαι/deomai, Matthew 9) the Lord of the Harvest for the unreached peoples and places of the world. It is based on the events listed in my Weekly Roundup, as well as on information received from disciple-making movements and other sources around the world. If you’re interested in my Weekly Roundup (out each Friday), you can see a sample and sign up for it here.

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