Incendiary Matters: An Intercessor's Prayer Guide

 

 

As we enter this new season with the Lord, and rejoice in the signs of spring, I am nevertheless reminded of the vast numbers of incendiary bombs that were dropped on Britain during the Blitz, which led to such immense devastation: there are so many incendiary issues affecting the world at the moment.

Many of us may feel as though our hearts and ‘prayer lockers’ are already full to near overflowing with matters of concern, but the purpose of this compendium is to steer us to prayerfully home in on various specific wider issues.

We hope you will find all the information and pointers for prayer that we are sharing here both handy and helpful. Once you have familiarised yourself with the ground that we are covering, do feel free to return to them over a period of time to pick up on the items that are calling most strongly to you, and to leave certain others for someone else to pick up and run with.

Intercession is a partnership between the Holy Spirit and our own unique and wonderfully made self, with all its interests, callings and leadings. Some of us are called to pray more for geo-political issues, some for the whole gamut of environmental concerns, some for specific communities, and others again much more for individual and pastoral matters.

That is how it should be, and our most effective praying is done when we are beautifully tuned to play the music and to pray the prayers the Father has in mind us for us to focus most upon.

Joel’s Summons to Prayer

Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the LORD your God,
and cry out to the LORD. (Joel 1:14)

Back in 1980, the Lord strongly impressed many of the verses from the prophet Joel on our hearts, as He summoned us to pray with great urgency about the hostile intent and movement of certain nations, particularly the Soviet Union. On that occasion destruction was averted and the Cold War miraculously came to an end, but the winds of war are blowing strongly now, and the risk of the flames spreading remains very great.

In the aftermath of an invasion that devastates the land (think Ukraine), the book of Joel opens with a strong call to wake up and seek the Lord as never before. Let’s be under no illusion about how determined the powers of darkness are in seeking to neutralise the effectiveness of our prayers. If they can cause us to be buried under our own problems and concerns, so that we don’t pray as we might for wider issues, then they can carry forward their plans much more easily – and many potential blessings will never see the light of day.

At this time when power and undersea cables are under threat, may the Lord keep our ‘prayer cable’ to Himself in good repair – especially if it has been hit by fiery darts that are more like cruise missiles in their effect upon us – or where we are simply in need of some refreshment and maintenance, so that we are able to play our part to the full in the spiritual fray.

Joel sounds an urgent warning against a ruthless enemy, and issues a very strong call to God’s people to stand together and to pray. Beyond the apocalyptic warnings are quite wonderful promises, on the one hand that the Lord may so hear our prayers that He may “turn and relent and leave behind a blessing,” on the other that He will pour out His Spirit on all people, even in the midst of showing awesome wonders in the heavens and on the earth. (Joel 2:14, 28-30).

Let’s invite the Lord to re-energise our vision and perspective, by re-reading at least the first two chapters of Joel in this light over the course of the coming month. Ask Him to lead you in prayer as you do so, perhaps with this Intercessor’s Guide to hand so that He can highlight certain themes to you. May the Lord energise and inspire you as you read, ponder and pray!

The war of words between Beijing and Washington has just ramped up another notch

China’s new Foreign Minister, Qin, has made an uncharacteristically direct attack on the United States recently, warning them to change course or face catastrophic conflict. We can be sure that he would not have spoken thus unless he was being President Xi’s mouthpiece.

There is a great deal to ponder here. Is China simply demanding greater respect, and to be treated as an equal superpower as the United States? There is likely to be at least a major element of such hubris here. Or is China saying much more bluntly, that if you continue to support and provide military aid to Taiwan, then conflict is inevitable?

At this time when there are no established high level diplomatic channels between America and China, we should surely pray that everything that can be done and should be done will be done in terms of seeking to dial down the pressures – even though there are bass bottom lines below which America cannot and should not go.

This cannot fail to be a huge test for both President Biden (a relative dove) and the new Republican-led Congress, many of whom are not noted for their subtlety of diplomacy. A very great deal will depend upon this.

It must surely be right to pray that the powers that incite to warfare be curbed and contained for as long as possible, especially when America is so deeply engaged in European affairs and embroiled in its own controversies, that China might feel it an opportune time to ramp up the pressure on Taiwan.

China’s need for resources

China faces the need to import a great deal of what it needs, for although vast in size, the percentage of usable agricultural land is tiny in comparison with, say, Australia. In fact China depends on Australia for over half of its need for iron ore and coal. China is seeking to address this issue by developing its contacts in Africa, but this will not happen overnight.

The serious implications of the gender imbalance in China and elsewhere

Photo by Cindy Tang on Unsplash

Something that should concern us with regard to countries such as China and India is the imbalance concerning the number of women in the population. (This would presumably be true for Russia too, now that so many of its best and most able men have fled the country to avoid being called up to fight Ukraine, leaving a fast-shrinking population).

This was the theme I felt the Lord stressing to me when I woke in the middle of the night the other day. I have long been aware that when male population in a place vastly outnumbers the women, they often resort to desperate measures. The gender imbalance has reached a critical point in China in the aftermath of the ‘one child per family’ policy. Many girl babies were aborted or died and even now, when the policy has been abandoned, many families are unable to afford more than a single child.

I came across a report on this matter by Brian Stauffer, written for Human Rights Watch and, called (perhaps deliberately shockingly) ‘You Should Be Worrying about the Woman Shortage’. It makes for grim reading, including how women are seized from Myanmar and treated with great cruelty. But If you can bear it, please do make the effort to read it

It crossed my mind that behind Putin’s terrible deportation of Ukrainian children there may be an element here of Russia seeking to revitalise its shrinking population

Let’s ask the Lord to lead us in our prayers for this topic, so that He can bring at least some of the horrendous practices mentioned in the report to an end, and set desperately abused women free.

A dreadful lesson from history – and taking Psalm 51 as a prayer for restoration

Praying about the critical gender imbalance in countries such as China and India reminded me of the truly horrendous events described in Judges 20 and 21 that describe the bloodthirsty civil war that all but obliterated the tribe of Benjamin.

In the aftermath of that massacre, the Israelites took a vow to make it illegal for their daughters to marry the few surviving Benjamites – which in turn led to a devious and murderous ‘solution’ that made it possible for these Benjamites to seize women for themselves, and so perpetuate their bloodline.

As one contributor to the Bible Reading Plan wrote of these truly gruesome events, ‘Rather than admitting their own error and asking guidance from God, the Israelites followed one bad decision with another (and another).’ These two chapters are right up there as ranking amongst the most terrible in the whole of Scripture. See Judges 20
and Judges 21

At the end of the Bible Reading Plan’s notes for Judges 20, the editors urge us to ponder whose sin needs restoration the most in our lives: ours or that of the people around us?

They ask deeply pertinent questions: ‘In what ways have you experienced unrepented sin that gets deeper and darker?

What would it look like to confess, repent, and live in freedom and leave the deep/dark stain of that sin behind?

They then encourage us to ask God to return us to the joy of our salvation (as Psalm 51:12 puts it) and to fill our heart afresh with joy.
Here is a link to the psalm to remind us of these well-loved words.

May the Lord lead us to direct our prayers, whether at a personal level, or with regard to the issues I have raised concerning Brian Stauffer’s deeply disturbing article.

The Chinese desire to claim Taiwan

President Xi has made it very clear that he wants to gain control of Taiwan – and has set a deadline of 2027 ‘at the latest’ to accomplish this. The global need for Taiwanese chips undoubtedly plays its part in this, but the intention is more easily stated than won. Even if Xi were to send in 1 million troops, as he has suggested, victory in Taiwan is no pushover not least because of the AUKUS pact. Pray that the island may so bristle with defensive weapons that it may effectively deter China from launching an all-out assault.

Where diplomacy can help, let’s pray for diplomatic efforts that will go at least some way in terms of de-escalating the tension that China, in the conviction that its hour has come, has deliberately provoked with regard to trade and Taiwan.

The prayer of a godly diplomat

Let’s bear in mind the outstanding example of a ninth century Orthodox believer who is known as Symeon the Translator, who served with unrivalled skill as an astute diplomat, protecting the Byzantine Empire from bloodshed against the many militaristic Arab tribes that threatened it.

For his efforts Symeon received the highest praise possible. So far from welcoming the riches that were offered to him, however, he sought no reward other than to be allowed to lead a life of seclusion, in which to devote himself to gathering extensive details about the lives of the greatest saints who had lived until his time. This labour of love led to a work of unparalleled scholarship. Some of his musical compositions continue to be sung in the Orthodox Church to this day too.

We can certainly echo in our hearts the prayer that he wrote, in our deep desire for Jesus to remove ‘the causes of sin’ from our hearts’ (Matt. 13:41)

O my creator!
Consume the thorns of all my offences.
Make clean my soul, make holy my mind,
Nail down my being in Thy fear,
Ever keep watch, guard and protect me
from every act and word that destroyeth the soul.
Make me holy, make me clean, set me in order.
Make me comely, give me understanding, give me light.
Show me the Tabernacle of Thy Spirit alone,
And no more the Tabernacle of sin.
Make Thy slave a child of light.
For it is Thou that makest holy,
And we know none other that is good but Thee;
Thou art the shining brightness of souls
And to Thee, as is justly due, as God and Master,
We give all glory every day.
Greek Hieratikon  

Discerning the Lord’s view on international matters

Our quest, as ever, is to discern the Lord’s viewpoint, and to ask ‘What is the Spirit of God saying to His people in this season and about these issues?’ By what spirit are things happening?

Whatever the heavenly ‘scouts’ are reporting back to the council chamber in Heaven, it will not be of peaceful trust and cooperation between the superpowers. May the Lord raise up utterly necessary checks and balances to meet these dangerous days on Earth.

As we continue to pray strength for the new king and his family to fulfil their role in the face of so many pressures, it is on my heart to pray grace amongst the member countries of the Commonwealth – and particularly the 14 or so who (at least for the time being) continue to recognise King Charles’s headship of their respective Nations.

The royal court that Queen Elizabeth left behind her is very different from the one that she had inherited, but she had moved it miles forward by such undramatic stages that the process had been all but imperceptible to many at the time. It is certainly looking likely so far that King Charles and Prince William may well be willing to go further in changing the shape and appearance of the monarchy than their predecessors – but also in being willing to address such issues directly.

There is further to go in terms of apologising for the many and great failures of the British Empire in the way they ruled their colonies . . . Let’s not just call them failures, they were atrocities.

Here are a couple of links for those who are historically concerned about these atrocities, and to pray into the need to face up more fully to the implications, especially at this time when the King of Belgium has at long last been obliged to face the great atrocities committed by people in his name and for his ‘glory’ in the Congo.

The second of the two items somewhat balances the first article.

There are more up to date articles on the web than these, (search for something like ‘sins of the British imperial nation’ but I chose this one because the whole concept of ‘forced labour’ stood out to me.

Praise God for those who campaign vigorously for righteous causes. See how the Lord leads you as you read these articles.

Rather different is this article.

and this challenging one from Politico.

Reading these articles, I cannot but think of Zimbabwe, where President Mugabe consistently blamed British rule for human rights abuse on a massive scale that were quite egregiously of his own doing.

It is difficult for present day royals to do more than to express their sorrow over these events for, were they to attempts to offer a formal apology, it might open the way for their governments to be found responsible for huge atonement reparations. In other words, the Sovereign could only venture into such territory with the express blessing of the British government, but let’s pray for forward progress, that the Commonwealth can fulfil all that it can do as a force for good.

At the end of the first World War, my great uncle was initially delighted when the administration of Tanzania and Zanzibar was taken out German hands and placed under the control of the British.

He had witnessed many great cruelties at the hands of the Germans, which he had recorded in detail in widely circulated form. To his chagrin, Frank saw the British subtly reintroducing forced labour by the back door – and he came against it with all his might and main. This included writing a booklet called ‘The Serfs of Great Britain’. He had disappointing meetings with high ups in London, but some responded – especially Winston Churchill, who rose to the occasion and proved instrumental in leading the fight against the reintroduction of cruel forced labour.

Frank showed the same battling resilience here to bring this about just before the War when confronting the House of Bishops when they were poised to accept the tenets of liberal theology. A huge national campaign at that time was successful in bringing the bishops back in line in bringing the bishops back into line by affirming their belief in the centrality of the Lord Jesus and His saving work. Phew!

Praying for Britain’s Borders

Photo by Max Böhme on Unsplash

I always remember back in the time of the Vietnamese boat crisis, the testimony of so many who had sought the Lord with all their heart to make it to safety and a new life, at a time when so many others didn’t.

Getting into Britain is a far from straightforward process these days, and for obvious reasons, our border policy has long been under the spot light. For decades I have grieved that our borders are often too rigid in keeping out people who truly deserve and would benefit from being here – but also too porous in terms of letting in those who harbour no favourable intentions towards this country. Whilst doing our best to keep politics out of the equation, let’s pray for all who are truly seeking God for their futures – for those who, humanly speaking, decide their fate.

Britain’s dependence on China

Ian Duncan Smith rightly reminds us that never before has Britain been so economically dependent on a nation so hostile to it as is China. The stakes could not be higher. Pray for western companies to respond wisely in the light of this reality.

French protests and a police force who are weary as well as violent

Talking about matters incendiary, let’s also remember France, which continues to be prey to great and violent upheavals as its citizens protest against their pension age being raised to 64. The response of the French riot police has often been heavy handed, and revolts most French citizens, but they are faced by some difficult issues. I remember reading an article some years ago concerning the exhaustion they felt as they dealt with the Gilets Jaunes, together with the being those taking the brunt of people’s anger against political decisions. Even then, they felt they were at breaking point. Do include the police force in your prayers for France during the present round of protests.

The threat to democracy

With autocratic leaders on the rise, democracy is under threat across the world. It is not a perfect system of government – none is – but it is so very much better than the alternative. This is part of the reason why I have been so intensely concerned to pray for America in recent years, given how close President Trump came to siding with autocratic rulers of Russia, North Korea and Saudi Arabia. The steps that shift a democracy to a mild dictatorship can be very subtle, and then it is not so far to outright tyranny. To some extent the Lord has summoned me again and again to pray for democracy to survive in America.

And not only to pray, but also to warn, for these things are deeply significant markers in the history of America, and warning signals for the whole world. Where once the American people might have stood aside to permit the course of justice to run its course when matters are brought to court, now we find a belligerent spirit that claims that everything is a weaponised witch-hunt that must at all costs be resisted and denounced – along with calls to take away the power and platform of those who would seek to defend the frontiers of free speech in favour of the utterly warped vision pedalled by narcissistic individualists and toxic party spirit.

It is never too soon to pray for the 2024 Elections in the United States

A few nights ago, I felt a nudge to watch a channel I do not normally watch: Talk TV. As I switched it on, Piers Morgan was just beginning an in-depth “scoop” interview with Ron DeSantis, the Governor of Florida.

Often categorised as ‘Trump with brains but without the baggage’, this man, who would be a popular candidate amongst many Republican voters in some polls were he to finalise the decision that is surely uppermost in his mind and to run for the Presidency.

DeSantis would appear to be a prime example of Trumpist beliefs and practices being set to outlive the name, for, in truth, it is more the man that many Republicans are moving away from than the ideals that he embraces. See what discernment you glean as a result of watching this extended interview with this increasingly prominent and influential right winger.

It would obviously be strategic to pray for him – not least because he is already coming under intense attack from the former president, who has already threatened to dish dirt on the man he calls ‘Ron deSanctimonious,’ and warned that he will end up a bloodied pulp if he dares to stand as a candidate against him. This is the language of the Mafia mob and not of respectable rival statesmen. Trump attorney says Ron DeSantis will be left a ‘bloodied pulp’ if he takes on former president (msn.com) In his long speech in Waco, that was filled with violent rhetoric, Trump claimed that ‘either the Deep State destroys America or we destroy the Deep State’. “They’re flooding your towns with deadly drugs selling your jobs to China, mutilating your children … setting fire to your life savings, releasing violent criminals to prey on innocent people.”

See also forbes.com; cf edition.cnn.com

There are no words to describe what darkness this potentially risks, not only for America but also for the world, now that Trump is fuelled by desire for revenge – not least for Ukraine, which Trump has far less interest in providing for and protecting than the present regime.

We should be wary of trusting polls too much, but Trump recently notched up a staggering 71% of the Republican vote in one survey, with DeSantis about sixteen points behind. It was most symbolic that he chose Waco as his place for his first rally – the place that is above all associated with extreme Christian nationalism of a sectarian and cultlike nature in all America. (That, be it said, is no longer true of the makeup of Waco itself, but it is true of the way in which it is perceived).

Trump began his rally with clips of the rioting at the Capitol, with no attempt to pretend that he wasn’t in favour of it. Rather, he was pictured wielding a baseball bat and vowing retribution, in an altogether darker more vengeful mode declaring, ‘I am the voice of justice and retribution.’ (He has subsequently removed the baseball bat image).

In the light of all that will unfurl in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s indictment

We should obviously be praying for what happens now that Donald Trump has been indicted, even while other cases are currently being considered against him Trump (including the attempt to ‘find’’ votes in Georgia, and the leaving of Top Secret documents lying around Mar al lago).

In the short term this is likely to play out in favour of his attempt to be nominated as his party’s candidate for President, with many (though by no means all) leading Republicans falling over themselves to defend him, with Senator Lindsey Graham and House Leader Kevin McCarthy to the fore).

There is sure to be a great deal of noise, just as there was over his claims that the election had been rigged. The moment those cases reached the ‘fact-based’ realities of the courts, however, rather than the hype of right-leaning networks, it was immediately clear that there was not a shred of evidence to support these claims, and they were tossed out dismissively.

So whilst this indictment may appear to benefit Donald Trump in the short term by rallying defence and support around him, I would suggest that being exposed to the ‘cold’ reality of the courtroom environment, with its evidence-based approach, (even though no one at the time of writing has actually yet seen what the 30 charges are), will likely do nothing to increase support for him amongst crucial independents and swing voters.

At the same time, there is nothing one can take for granted here. Trump has been written off so many times in the past before!

Autocratic Alliances and the falsifying of History

God breaks [cuts off, humbles, reduces] the spirits of great leaders [princes]; the kings on earth fear Him. (Ps. 76:12)

We marvel at the alliances that spring up on the world stage, making partners of former enemies. In an unexpected twist, the briefest of rapprochements, the King of Judea became ‘besties’ with the Roman Governor, where before, we learn in Luke 23:12, they had been enemies. Herod had felt snubbed by Jesus; refusal to perform a miracle in his presence, but Pilate would have been quite happy to have released Jesus, if only the baying crowd had permitted him to do so. Behind the scenes, of course, the forces of darkness were pressing in on these autocratic rulers in their frenzied endeavours to do away with the Lord Jesus. Whatever became of this makeshift alliance later, it succeeded in the devil’s immediate malicious aim.

There is nothing new about such unions between those who have embraced wicked ways. Just think of the Tripartite Pact (also known as the Berlin Pact) that was signed in 1940 between Germany, Japan and Italy. It was full of ‘weasel words’ about creating a new world order of peace, restoring the 1936 pact between Germany and Japan, that had been briefly challenged by Ribbentrop’s pact with Molotov in 1939 between Germany and the Soviet Union. The Tripartite Pact fully recognised German supremacy in Europe, and Japanese leadership in establishing a new order in Greater East Asia. Such agreements pave the way for great evil to be carried out.
What then shall we say of the starry-eyed ‘bromance’ that we see developing between Moscow and Beijing, where the two most powerful autocratic rulers in the world are so fervently affirming an ever-deepening and enduring partnership?

As Presidents Xi and Putin meet together for nearly the fortieth time since 2012, China may wish it to be known that that are speaking about pursuing peace with Ukraine, but one may wonder about the substance of their dialogue behind the scenes. The balance has shifted a long way in the last decade, and President Xi is clearly the senior partner in the relationship.

These are two men who exercise power without any valid checks and balances. And it appears that they are after setting up a new world order, independent of Western and NATO influence. Meanwhile, millions upon millions of Russian and Chinese citizens are fed state propaganda that spreads and takes hold like knotweed, springing up to poison and defile many.

When Antichrist himself is finally revealed, will it not be seen that he came across initially as an ambassador of peace, and a model to follow and to rally around?

Israel

We have been praying a great deal in our online prayer groups about the situation in Israel, where more and more people are deeply concerned that the nation is in danger of moving away from being a liberal democracy into something much more authoritarian. Checks and balances are being removed, the judiciary is being reformed, and the power of the Supreme Court has been vastly reduced. As you will be aware, Benjamin Netanyahu is reliant on right-wing ministers in his coalition in order to retain a majority, and they have been making incendiary remarks concerning the right of Palestinians to exist.

This has provoked a scale of protest unprecedented in modern day Israel, and which many even see as threatening something unthinkable: outright civil war.

Pray for voices of sanity, moderation and wisdom to prevail.

The Israeli leadership has effectively scored a whole series of political own goals by its pronouncements, risking the loss of support built up with painstaking care and diplomatic endeavour over many years, as well as a crisis with its chief ally, the United States. The situation remains extremely volatile, especially now that Ramadan is underway, adding another layer to the risk of violence as Muslims seek to gather and worship at the al-Aqsa mosque – known as Temple Mount to Israelis – which is under Israeli control.

Many of the new ‘settlers’ in Israel are doing what they are doing with biblical convictions, but whatever our own stance concerning the rightness or otherwise of Israel expanding its border territories back to Biblical proportions, it is always worth remembering that it is not enough just to be right: how we seek to express and outwork that rightness is also very important. By what spirit are they taking action?

What do we see when look from that viewpoint? Is this Heaven’s perspective and Heaven’s leading – or something very different? Do their actions exult the Lord of glory and point the way to Him as the present-day Saviour of the world, and the King who will come to reign on Earth?

If the actions of the Israelis (leaders and settlers alike) be not of God, then such actions can be twisted and sharpened for use by demonic forces. There are none so blind as those who think they see, and who have convinced themselves that they are right.

We pray for the government of Israel at this time, in the decisions that it takes, and the response of the world: not least whether any nations are tempted to take advantage of Israel’s present disarray.

Most of us will be well aware of the prophecies which indicate Israel being very much on its own at the time of the end, and coming under attack by all nations. This, of course, is what ultimately proves the opportunity for the Lord to come through on their behalf to reveal Himself to them. Do reread Zechariah chapters 12 and 14 in the light of that perspective.

The question of how the Ukraine war ends

On the basis that all wars eventually end in some form of surrender, outright slaughter or negotiated settlements, pray for how thing develop for the rest of this year and beyond in the unwinnable war in Ukraine, now that both Prime Minister Sunak and President Macron have made the first ‘noises’ to urge Ukraine to ‘settle.’

Lord, You know if this is wisdom speaking up or compromise setting in: we ask You to be Lord of matters at every level for the peoples of both Russia and Ukraine.

It is important to be aware that neither of the leading candidates for the Republican nomination for the US presidency– Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis – see continuing support for Ukraine as being a significant priority.

Praise God that there has been strong kick back by other Republicans like Mike Pence, amongst others, against the Trump-DeSantis line. It is crucial that America stands firm against both Russia and Chinese military pressure.

The danger posed by Western complacency

There have been many times when the Lord has warned that when we are diffident and hesitate, we cede ground to the enemy. I remember meeting a woman on a local train a few years ago. With utter intent and resolution, she was praying and fasting against Christian marriages and ministers.
Are we too complacent when it comes to defending, protecting, enhancing and expanding our marriages and ministries?

And, when it comes to our national security, have we become complacent about the need to defend ourselves in the West? We seem to have had to be pushed to the brink before we committed to rearming, and restocking our levels of ammunition.

In Britain, although more finance for the MOD was promised in the recent budget, I have also seen estimates indicating it will take ten years – yes, ten years – just to restock and make good the ammunition and missiles that have been sent to Ukraine and used in the conflict there. Where does that leave us in the meantime – especially if things hot up in China? Defiant gestures are one thing – but having the resources to back strong statements up is an entirely different matter.
Pray for the matter to be given the priority that it should. Only the Lord can prevent matters from progressing into a ‘hot’ war.

On the Continent, German parliamentarians are upset that of the huge 100 billion euro increase in spending announced over a year ago, to be spent on vital upgrades to the German defence forces, not a single euro has been spent thus far. It is claimed that it would take half a century at the present rate to bring German forces up to scratch, and that they are actually in a worse state now than they were before the invasion of Ukraine.

It was this sort of half-hearted response that so many Western leaders made in response to Hitler’s rise back in the 1930s, leaving to far more suffering than would have occurred had a firmer stance been taken to resist him when he first began to demonstrate his aggressive intent. The comparison with our own day is only too striking. There can be no excuses in the light of China’s well-publicised increase in military spending, and Russia’s recently declared intention to double its output of precision-guided weapons.

The AUKUS pact

The AUKUS pact between Australia, United States and the UK has unleashed a furious storm of protest from China, which says that it is driving them towards closer relationships with Russia. But AUKUS is about a deal for new submarines for Australia that won’t be ready until 2030. Nevertheless, it is a significant development.

Even though they will not be ready for many years yet, the nuclear submarines promised in the AUKUS pact, pose a real threat to Chinese sea lanes to expand southward into the South China Sea as well as in terms of invading Taiwan. An excellent overview can be found in Lewis Page’s major article on how the AUKUS pact could put a serious spoke in China’s ambitions for regional domination.

Unfortunately this article is hidden behind the Telegraph’s pay wall, but amongst the many relevant points it makes is the fact that Taiwan is incredibly well defended for a small country (it is about the size of Switzerland), with a huge arsenal of missiles, and planes that are stored in bomb proof bunkers.

The banking crisis

The US and the British governments have bailed out the bank, to try to prevent a run on banks generally, but there is no question but that there are tremors in the market and people are afraid. I have less than no idea whether these are early signs of the economic collapse that Chris Wickland was speaking about, but in the meantime it can only be right to pray for proper measures to be taken, and melt down to be avoided – as well as for really worthwhile initiatives to receive the funding that they need, and for their products to fare well.

Innovative fuel and power sources

There are a number of innovative ideas under consideration with the aim of providing more effective and less environmentally damaging power supplies. It is good to pray into these and many such developments, some of which may perhaps be threatened by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.

Some of us may appreciate information that helps us to pray into scientific developments – improving the next generation of electric car batteries, for example, or harnessing the geo thermal power of boiling water from deep inside the earth, as in Cornwall.

Here’s a sample for those who would be interested.

Praying for AI and social media matters

In all probability, praying about matters pertaining to AI is probably not a high priority for most of us, any more than a full-on recognition of the need to be praying for those involved in cyber security would have featured on most prayer lists a decade or so ago. We are beginning to wake up to its import, however, with America is taking the matter particularly seriously.

There is little need to catalogue the huge number of ways in which AI plays a central and useful role in our lives, but it is really important for more research to be done, and acted upon concerning such things as ‘Tic-Tac,’ as I heard one reporter refer to the giant social media platform.

Whereas people are only permitted to watch 40 minutes a day on such platforms in China, America alone boasts over 150,000,000 avid subscribers, many of whom spend many hours on it every day. The whole Tik Tok matter raises twin concerns: the tension it causes with China, (which conveniently forgets that it acted unilaterally to ban Google, WhatsApp, Facebook, and host of other such platforms there), and the whole question of just what damage social media – and Tik Tok in particular – may be having on people’s minds and attention span.

The daughter of a friend in America doesn’t think life will be worth living if Tik Tok gets banned – and of course there are highly articular commentators loudly declaring that it is an unacceptable infringement on people’s liberty to even consider banning it. But that is to forget either the impact on the brain and the very real security aspect. As my friend later replied,

‘Goodness, it’s going to be a huge shift in so many ways dealing with a near brainwashed generation who trying to raise an almost completely brainwashed generation.’

It has long been known that too much contact with social media is a cause of great distress as well as adrenal dopamine pleasure highs for millions, and that it is making it increasingly difficult for people to distinguish between objective fact and subjective interpretation of so many matters, leaving them wide open to be bombarded by a huge raft of persuasive and subtly couched suggestions, thereby further removing their ability to pursue carefully thought-out investigations into truth.

As for the immense security issues, TikTok scoops up vast amounts of information concerning every young person who joins its network. As has justly been claimed of somebody who subscribes at the age of ten, the algorithms of Tik-Tok have been trained to obtain a much more fully rounded view of that person by the time they reach student age than even their own parents are aware of – or even the person themselves.

With its users’ permission, TikTok knows where they live, who their friends are, what cars they like, what makes them laugh, who makes them laugh and who makes their friends laugh. They know a lot.” [Quoted from: forbes.com. See also this article from the BBC: AI: How ‘freaked out’ should we be?

“AI involves using computers to do things that generally require human intelligence, like “creating algorithms, or sets of rules, to sort, study and draw predictions from data. It also involves making decisions based on this data,” learning from new data and improving over time. How powerful is AI? IBM’s AI “Deep Blue” was able to beat world champion chess player Garry Kasparov.

All this should definitely be a matter for prayer: as part of our wider campaign to pray for God to raise up a young generation for Himself. May we be like John the Baptist, who go before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared not just to flick from topic to topic on attractively packaged screen social media sites, but for the Lord. (Lk. 1:17; cf Mal. 4:5-6)

One way and other, there is so much brain washing going on…. pray for the purity of God’s word to reach and settle deep inside believers’ hearts – and for people to see through the mists and fogs of propaganda, lies and inducements.

From the Heavens above to the waters below: Praying about space wars and the serious threat to subsea cables

The Lord God commanded that people should not make ‘an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above, or on earth below, or in the water under the earth.’ (Ex. 20:4) It is a moot point as to whether or not we have made idols of created things. What we certainly have done is fill the heavens, the earth, and the water under the earth, with our own words and signs and visions. And now those speeding – and vital to our modern world – communication lines are under considerable threat.

At the time when Putin invaded Ukraine, he suddenly directed the people of Russia to glorify Russia’s rocket systems. It was as blatantly idolatrous a call as any that we have come to expect from the ultra-militaristic North Korea. And while that nation continues to seeks to perfect the firing of cruise missiles from submarines (which are notoriously difficult to spot and monitor), I am reminded how a friend felt was moved to pray a few years ago that the West would not be provoked and drawn into open conflict with this petulant and quick-tempered power, whose only predictability lies in its regular threats to launch nuclear missiles against South Korea and America.

Both Russia and China have the capacity to take satellites down now with pinpoint precision missile strikes, and both are making much of their ability to do so. China is particularly concerned about Elon Musk’s near global Space X Starlink system, for fear that America could use it against China, just as it is currently providing such great help to Ukraine by pinpointing Russia military positions.

For more on this in the light of the present controversy, see the sections on ‘Military Satellites’ and ‘Military Communications’ in this wider article. The risk of damage done by debris running loose through space is already huge, but if we were to lose the ability to connect and interact with the satellites that orbit the Earth, the result would be a truly catastrophic breakdown in communications that would paralyse everything from the military, to energy infrastructures, to government and to everything else. The world is only a few missile strikes away from utter devastation and catastrophe. Everything depends on leaders having sufficient self-restraint to refrain from launching such weapons. Considering the lack of diplomatic channels that are open between the nations, this can by no means be taken for granted.

As I have so often warned, at the same time that we are threatened by what is happening up in the skies above us, so too are we in danger from perils under the sea. The following are lengthy but extremely significant posts concerning the threats being posed to thousands of kilometres of subsea cables, particularly in the Far East.

Hitherto we have thought about the threat to Atlantic cables from Russia; these articles present the matter with regard to Taiwan, and China’s connections with the rest of the world – always bearing in mind that 95% of all Internet traffic, including banking, depend on these thin cables. As these articles show, we are not speaking here of theoretical threats, because disturbing breakages of cables and denials of service have already been taking place.

Russia’s cyber warfare centre – and why winning the cyber war is so utterly crucial

Now there lived in that [besieged] city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom . . . So I said, ‘Wisdom is better than strength.’ But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded. The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war. (Ecc. 9:15-18)

This lengthy article in the Guardian outlines what we have been warning about for so long: the sheer extent of the efforts Russia has long been devoting to directing cyber attacks against much of the rest of the world – especially Ukraine, the Baltic States and the West.

it is so important to remember the intense efforts that were made by the code breakers of Bletchley Park to crack the Enigma Code, and by the Western Approaches Tactical Unit to recognise the tactic the U boats were using to sink vast tonnages of Allied ships every month during the vital Battle of the Atlantic that threatened both to starve Britain and to make it impossible for America to land both the huge number of personnel and supplies to make it possible to invade Europe.

Such examples can inspire us to see how utterly vital it is to pray for national cyber defences to hold firm, and for those masterminding them to be inspired and led by the Lord, whether or not they are aware of His guidance.

The dramatic story of how Gilbert Roberts and his team of Wrens effectively won the war for the West by ‘cracking the code’ to recognise the tactics Admiral Doenitz was deploying has recently been shown in a series of superb docu-dramas on Sky History Channnel with the name, U Boat War Gamers.

You can watch these episodes by searching for ‘Watch U Boat War gamers.’

Chips with everything

It was a surprise to learn that 1400+ chips are needed to build the simplest of modern cars. These control everything from the air bags to the engine, and without them, no new cars would function. Economists and business leaders alike are extremely keen to safeguard the supply of chips. America is creating a vast factory for making advanced memory chips in Boise, Idaho, all as part of the global race with China to be the manufacturer of the chips that power the computing platforms that AI requires.

At the moment, 90% of the world’s most sophisticated chips are made in Taiwan, and 60% of its semiconductors, with Samsung, in nearby South Korea coming second until or unless America is able to ramp up its production levels sufficiently.

This is a matter of serious concern for the Western world. Even without missile strikes on the island or against satellites, if China were even to impose an economic blockade on Taiwan, this too would have a catastrophic impact on Western economies – far more so than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has done, or than the semiconductor chip crisis that has seen many western car marking firms shutting down their production lines in recent years.

The risks associated with digital currencies – and the shrinking of free speech

There is much here to ponder and take to heart.

Climate matters

Climatologists are warning with considerable alarm, of the vast loss of Antarctic ice sheets, as they melt. The warnings are clear – but what will be the response? This article warns that the Republican led House of Congress is set to approve a sprawling energy package that seeks to undo virtually all of President Joe Biden’s agenda to address climate change.

It may not be right to make the welfare of this world more important in our thinking than our awareness of the new heaven and earth that the Lord is planning, but it is definitely right to pray that every good and proper measure be taken to safeguard it. Pray for the steps that governments take in this respect: America, China, with its huge dependence on coal-fired refineries, India, Brazil and so on.

The implications of Kate Forbes’ defeat in her bid to be First Minister of Scotland

Many of you will no doubt have been praying for Kate Forbes, the relatively young Christian woman who stood as a candidate to be the First Minister of Scotland, and who came so close to winning, despite being pilloried alike by the press and by senior members of her own party for being an out and out Christian. David Robertson, who I once enjoyed a wonderful conversation with on a train between Dundee and Edinburgh, has written this extremely lucid and important assessment of what this election means in real terms. It hits the nail spot on, and is really worth reading.

Communicating the gospel to the young in a post truth era

I had a powerful and moving dream last night in which I was present in a classroom somewhere, where a very capable teacher was doing an excellent job in fashioning a Christian understanding with pupils around about the age of seven.

There was then a gap, and either a second dream or a continuation of the same dream, in which I knew that I had been invited to participate in sharing with a class of slightly older children, perhaps around about the age of 10.

Once again there was a quite exceptionally able communicator teaching that class, doing a brilliant job inspiring the pupils with a clear love of the whole theme of faith. She was doing a brilliant job not just presenting the facts of the gospel but really drawing out their understanding and involving them.

Again and again, I saw quietly confident and refreshingly articulate boys and girls coming forward to ask questions, or to make short contributions of great relevance. It struck me as a magnificent riposte to the strongly self-censoring climate that ‘wokeism’ is inducing in society, as witnessed only too strongly in the recent example of the vicar who is in great danger for his job having said to a class that it is alright to question certain of the new assumptions.

So his own stance is clearly the ‘traditional’ one he was in no way knocking these, he was simply saying it’s all right to question them, and to look at things from more perspectives.

The dream was so clear and vivid that we feel as a team that it is just important to share it with you. And to pray for all who are seeking to communicate gospel truths effectively to young people in schools, despise all the pressures and complications that post-truth and wokist attitudes are causing. Discussing things like kindness as opposed to unkindness or indifference are so important too in helping them in their present day and future decision making.

It is important too to pray that the door remains open to be able to do this, and for evangelists to still have the freedom and permission to be able to come into schools to share about Jesus freely. In other words, to pray that we do not go the way that America has done in making it illegal to name the name of Christ in schools.

Praise God for the ‘Open the Book’ project, and all the success they have met with in introducing Bible stories to people. Thank You Lord for all the good teaching that is going on. Father, we pray this generation will have opportunity to hear the gospel and ask you to reveal imaginative ways for your people to reach this generation whose minds are so often undermined with ideas that do not come from You. So many fought so hard to make education available to all in this and other lands – and now we use this gift to glorify our own learning, or even try to disprove You. Forgive us. We pray a special protection over and anointing on all Christian teachers: may they be truly effective in being models and witnesses for You. Amen

Both firstly and finally, Lord, we start and round off our prayers this day by offering ourselves afresh to You: and sing with the little drummer boy: 

Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
So to honour Him.

Remember Moldova in prayer

Over the last decade, we have sent out a number of posts urging us to remember the small and defenceless country of Moldova that lies to the west of Odessa in Ukraine. See here
and here.

Russia has long since been eyeing up this small and landlocked country with a view to enlarging its own territory and improving access to the Black Sea. For a basic spiritual overview, this is an excellent prayercast.

For an up-to-date overview of the threats facing Moldova, see this article.