A Prayer Challenge for a Weary, War-Torn World
by Rick Love
Each morning I pray over the news: the crisis of ISIS, terrorist attacks against innocent civilians, and chronic civil wars. This tumultuous state of violence and injustice burdens my soul. I know many people are overwhelmed with grief, anger or fear. How should followers of Jesus respond to this avalanche of conflict?
I can tell you how nine evangelical organizations are responding. The National Association of Evangelicals, World Vision, World Relief, Pathways, the Sider Center, Sojourners, Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding, the Global Immersion Project, and Peace Catalyst International have banded together to form a network called Evangelicals for Peace. We are an evangelical network that includes pacifists, just war proponents, and just peacemaking practitioners.
We realize there are no quick fixes to terrorism or tribalism. We don’t pretend to have answers to these complex conflicts, but we have been praying and wrestling with how evangelicals should respond. We have spent three years dreaming about long-term, multifaceted responses to conflict that will help “educate, equip and mobilize the body of Christ to advance solutions to violent conflict, foreign and security policies that encourage justice and peace, and the reconciliation of global enemies.”
What if evangelicals took more seriously the command to “make every effort to live at peace with everyone” (Hebrews 12:14)? Imagine how different things could be if every evangelical in the U.S. decided to “seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14). One thing is for sure: more people would be praying for peace.
Evangelicals for Peace invites every evangelical to spend five minutes a day on the last five days of 2015 praying for one of the top five conflict zones as measured by the Global Peace Index and the Fragile States Index: Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, Central African Republic, and Afghanistan.
Praying for peace is commanded and modeled throughout the Scripture. It marks the hidden behind-the-scenes work of peacemaking. Paul the apostle prayed for peace in every one of his letters and prayed for peace in every aspect of life: “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way” (2 Thessalonians 3:16).
But prayer for the blessing of peace goes beyond the sphere of the personal and into the political. Paul exhorts Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 1:18) and then says his first priority should be praying for governments and peace:
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).