Briefings for Intercessors: Undergirding prayer for key issues and moving in the flow of wider prayer

Sep 5, 2023 | PRAY, Prayer Focus for the Nations, READ, Ukraine

When we were moving from Chester to Ludlow in 1989, and packing a 7.5 ton van that we had hired, we will never forget Ruth, then aged four, solemnly bringing out a banana from the house and placing it in the van as her contribution! Given the scale of the ever rising political, military, cyber, economic and climate tensions that are engulfing so many parts of the world it would be easy to feel rather that our contribution ranks about as high as that. Mercifully, the Lord welcomes and hears our prayers and, to borrow from the language of the airborne fire fighters, enough drops of water do put fires out, well aimed waters bombs can accomplish marvels, and also serve to create utterly necessary fire ‘gaps.’

I am sure that you will have long noticed that in the Acts of the Apostles, we always find the disciples  on their way to or from a time of fervent corporate intercession. Let’s not let up as pressures increase.

To accompany our prayers, it is important to keep a flow of worship going in our hearts.

Moving into the flow of wider prayer for situations of great need

Sally Mowbray’s anointed song, ‘We join with all the angels’ reminds us that the host of Heaven that surround us are no ‘amorphous’ company, but rather made up of countless individuals, each one with their own story of finding God and following Jesus.

Praise God for His body all around the world today. May they – may we – indeed be harnessed for good in every clime and country. When it comes to praying for the world, we cannot even begin to take on all the concerns and needs that we know about. What we can do is to be alert to, and as it were, zoom in on particular wider issues, just as we seek to do with regard to other pastoral needs that are known to us personally.

This is what it is to walk in the power of the Spirit – like Jesus, who knew when to ‘stop’ to minister to particular people as He walked along. As always, our challenge is to be able to ‘cope’ with this when the needs are intense ones – such as I mentioned in the post that this sendout links to.

As always, one of the most effective ways to pray about these is to ‘zoom in’ wherever possible on particular individual, family, group or party, and to take that as representative of the whole category of people caught up in that situation.

So, for example, as we hear of really major things that have happened even in the past few days:

Start by praying for one person or family who you may have seen or heard being interviewed who has suffered devastating loss as a result of the hurricane-fanned wildfires on Maui island in Hawaii, that have all but obliterated the historic town of Lahaina, with many charred to death in their cars as they sought to flee the flames.

Briefing for Intercessors1) Heat Drought and Floods

Extraordinary surge of heat and forest fires have been afflicting the planet this summer – including Greece, (the biggest ever recorded in the EU) France, the Pyrenees, Catalonia, Sardinia, Caligari in Italy and many others too numerous to mention. Huge fires in Canada are continuing to cause smoke problems for the people in the eastern parts of the United States, while the south and south west of the States has experienced an unparalleled heatwave for many long weeks now.

The Philippines and the south of Japan have been devastated by an exceptionally long-lasting typhoon, and floods in parts of China are so bad that it is thought that they will take six months for the waters to recede – even while South Korea baked before being struck by a typhoon.

The speed of the ice melt in the Arctic and Antarctic are another menace altogether to the world. It is all happening much quicker than expected.

The cost of climate change disasters is huge and rising exponentially. It can only hold back the tide for so long but may effective measures yet be taken.

With so many hurricanes, fires and floods hitting the world, where do we start? well, one poissible place that you might not have thought of would be by holding the land of Slovenia before the Lord. Its leader has declared that up to two thirds of the country has been affected by the worst floods it has ever experienced.

See this brief but poignant Prayercast for Slovenia – and pray blessings on all who know and love the Lord in that country – and for the Holy Spirit to come upon the church there.

2) Why this is an urgent time to be praying for the war in eastern Ukraine

We give thanks as we continue to pray protection for President Zelensky, who is said to have survived yet one more assassination attempt, orchestrated by someone working for Russia. Let’s continue to pray for him as he has SO much on his plate.

The whole situation feels every bit as much a David pitted against a Goliath as it ever has done, now that Russia has erected the equivalent of Hitler’s all but impregnable Atlantic wall the length of its 1400 km long front line with Eastern Ukraine. (It has also been busy recruiting vast extra numbers for its army). and yet Ukraine is still somehow managing to make progress.

Claiming to be concerned for ‘results’ in return for their provision of armaments, far too many senior voices have been raised from their armchairs in the West to complain that the Ukrainian counter offensive has been slower than they expected.

They seem to forget that no western nation would even remotely contemplate such a brave offensive against a very numerous and very well-entrenched enemy without adequate air cover being in place. No wonder Ukrainians are urging such people to come and see if they can speed things up themselves!

See this realistic article report in the BBC, that ‘dozens are dying daily.’

Now that advance Ukrainian troops have made their way through the first lot of minefields and other defences in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, they look set to come up against the main Russian defensive line – in which case an already intense battle looks set to become still more intense.

There is a good argument to be made that Ukraine’s strategy of attacking strategic targets behind the front line is now bearing fruit.

We pray for breakthrough in Ukraine’s counter offensive – and also for all who have participated and been caught up in such atrocities. Everyone knows someone who has died in this conflict, and stress and trauma levels are off the scale.

We pray healing and comfort for shattered hearts and grief stricken minds – of soldiers having to continue – of the consciences of those in command – and for women and children who are left bereft of the men in their lives and their country.

*Communications, of course, are vital*. Russia is advanced in this direction, and has been developing the capability to intercept signals between Ukrainian front line soldiers and Elon Musk’s all-important Starlink satellite network. This is potentially extremely important. It is far from ideal for Ukraine to be so heavily dependent on this highly erratic man who, at will, reported denied access to the Starlink satellite-based internet system recently in order to make it harder for Ukraine to launch drone attacks on Russia – as this article in Forces Net explains.

This is where action on the ground links to the crucial role that codebreaking plays, as I featured in my recent attached article.

AI, drones, codebreaking and secure communications are vital in this war, along with wise and imaginative target and project planning warfare. This is by no means all one way. As of the start of this term, all Russian children are now being taught how to operate combat drones.

Apart from praying for what happens directly on the field of battle, propaganda and communications have important roles to play.

‘A sluggard says, ‘There’s a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!’ . . . The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.’ (Prov. 26:13, 28:1)

Early in the Second World War, in the Battle of the River Plate, you may remember how the advanced battle cruiser the Graf Spee had been causing devastating losses to Allied shipping in the South Atlantic. Have been wounded in a battle with much smaller units of the British navy, the saga of the Graf Spee came to an abrupt end as the result of Allied propaganda that a great fleet was gathering outside the harbour in Montevideo, where the ship had been sheltering. Fearing such a conflict, the captain took the decision to scuttle his own ship. In reality, no such additional Allied forces had been on hand to take part in the battle! The power of propaganda alone had triumphed.

I am reminded of Theseus’s speech in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ about fantasies that assume particular shape, and which lunatics, lovers and poets easily fall for, causing people to ‘see more devils than vast hell can hold — and to give to airy nothings particular names.’

The history of warfare through the centuries has borne out the truth of Shakespeare’s words that ‘Such tricks hath strong imagination . . . That in the night, imagining some fear, How easy is a bush supposed a bear!

From the perspective of propaganda, now that the myth of Russian invincibility has been exposed, we should certainly not underestimate the reputation Ukraine is gaining for itself as it launches increasingly damaging drone strikes across Russia itself, which are doing serious damage to Russian ammunition dumps, anti aircraft defence systems, (including the principal one defending Crimea) and even destroying aircraft on the ground at airports far and wide. All this diminishes Russia’s ability to fight effectively in Ukraine, and prepares the way for the (long delayed) arrival of 50 fast American jets in the spring, that Denmark and the Netherlands will be supplying.

Provocative as ever in its nuclear sabre-rattling, North Korea has also ramped up the production of advanced cruise missiles, aerial vehicles and rocket launchers in the aftermath of a visit from Moscow’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu, who surely came requesting arms (perhaps in exchange for nuclear information). We can be sure that many of these are destined to boost Russia’s supply of deadly munitions. (Russia dumped a staggering 500,000 munitions on Kramatorsk in one week alone recently).

Pray for the terrifying and utterly traumatic impact the people of Ukraine are experiencing as they suffer beneath the constant rain of shells and missiles on their cities. You can well imagine the great cloud of agonised prayers that will be going up, each one of which the Father will be hearing. We remember, too, the hundreds of thousands of children forcibly removed to Russia and the millions internally or externally displaced.

Father, we grieve to see Ukraine civilian bases being pounded and pulverised every single day. Be Lord of every aspect of this conflict we pray. We pray for every single initiative, and every single life – and Your outworking of how this is going to develop, at this time when Putin must know, deep down, that he can only win by conventional means if the West ends it support for Ukraine – as all three leading Republican candidates are vowing to do to if they win the election in 2024. So much depends on this. Erdogan’s response, in Turkey, has also been disappointing telling Ukraine that it must soften its attitude in relationship to the failed grain deal with Russia – when it is manifestly obvious to most people that it is Putin who has taken the initiative in hurting Ukraine in this way.

Father, be Lord today of all developments in and pertaining to this war we pray – and of every single and family person caught up in it.

Please pray on from where this post leaves off..

3) It’s never too soon to pray for key leadership appointments

Those who are wise will take all this to heart; they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord. They will also understand from Scripture the consequences of forsaking His ways.

[But] if you rebel against the Lord’s commands and refuse to listen to him, then His hand will be heavy on you. (Ps. 107:42-43 NLT, 1 Sam. 12:15)

Satan’s intention, as Milton sets it out so poignantly clearly in Paradise Lost: bk. 1, line 756) in a nation is to set up Pandemonium, the high capital of Satan and his peers. (John Milton) To do this means facilitating the wrong people coming to power, and causing wrong beliefs to prosper in such a way that evil spirits prevail – just as so clearly occurred in Pergamum, ‘where satan has his throne.’ (Rev. 2:13) (Milton depicts satan as having been a great prince in heaven and architect of ‘high tower’d structures’ who fell from grace and ‘was headlong sent with his industrious crew to build in Hell.’

It is a desperately grievous thing as we look around the world and see so many examples of where this has happened, or is happening. Let’s be praying even now for future appointments, in Church and state alike.

4) The Church in China is under renewed and really serious pressure

Churches in the Henan province of China have long since been obliged to replace the Ten Commandments with the sayings of President Xi Jinping.

‘God Reports’ are warning that China has plans to explore its ideology worldwide in an attempt to reshape the face of Christianity.

You may have heard that the Chinese Communist party are producing their own version of the Bible, that must be used in official churches. It can by no means be described as a translation. For example, in John 8, Jesus Himself is said to stone the woman caught in the act of adultery. The pressure has been going up and up on Chinese believers, with all Bible apps having been banned – and now the faith itself is being marginalised to the point where anyone not going to an official church is liable to imprisonment.

See these articles and pray for Chinese believers to remain faithful despite the critical lack of access to resource materials.

CCP revises John 8  and Christians in China face further crackdown.

5) Let’s thank the Lord, too, for the 1.5 million young people who attended the Catholic World Youth Day recently in Lisbon, an event that actually lasted nearly a week. Participants endured sweltering heat, with many sleeping outdoors after a Saturday night vigil.

May the Lord raise up many who are on fire for Himself at this time when the Catholic Church in Portugal, as in many other countries, is being severely rattled by the exposure of numerous examples of clerical sex abuse.

6) Praying for the Housing Market and the Private Rental Sector (PRS)

With so many experiencing massive squeezes as a result of massive mortgage rate hikes, pray too for government strategy for overhauling the private rented sector. As you will have heard, a huge percentage of private landlords have ceased to function in this capacity over the past year or two, with really serious knock on effects. This has meant that in every region, the number of people seeking rental accommodation has at least tripled since 2019,

With upwards of 20 people after every single property on the market. Landlords meanwhile are feeling as though they are being ‘hammered and threatened’ by new legislation on every front, meaning that fewer and fewer individuals are entering this buy-to-let market that is so crucial for millions.

Pray for any amendments to be made that usefully improve Michael Gove’s far-reaching Renter’s  Reform Bill, which is expected to become law on 1st October – and for how this works out for specific families and individuals.

Photo by Andrew Bertram on Unsplash

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