Intercessors' Guide

November 2022

 

Staying involved as Watchmen for the Lord across many theatres of action

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

There are so many theatres of action, just as there were during the Second World War, and this edition also includes a weighty resume and compendium of themes for prayer for the coming month. You may find you want to return to these from time to time, so as to follow up the informative links and prophecies, and to pray with deeper understanding.

Bearing in mind how Rees Howells and his team of intercessors considered themselves to be as much on the front line of action in prayer as the troops were in the actual shooting in the Second World War, may the Lord re-energise us for the task ahead as we range to and from and cover various bases.

Our heart is always first and foremost for the Kingdom of God, rather than for national state politics or politicians, but the Kingdom extends beyond Church matters alone – central and vital though the Church is in every way for revealing and releasing God’s purposes on Earth.

We are primarily focusing our intercession on the main ‘block’ of nations that we have been featuring in recent editions, praying that the power of the Lord Jesus will shine through: in Russia-Ukraine and the United States, as well as here at home in the UK – but the Spirit will doubtless also be laying other themes, countries and burdens on you too; China, perhaps, in the aftermath of its rigorous President being elected for an unprecedented third term, while all the time continuing an ever more vigorous clampdown on believers.
Here are the themes we will be exploring:

‘That none should perish . . .’ (2 Pet. 3:9, cf 2:12, 2 Thess. 2:10)

The Lord is patient with us not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. (2 Pet. 3:9)

I woke the other morning with a strong sense of forces of darkness sweeping people away eternally, and the Lord saying insistently, (in the words of Ezekiel) ‘I do not desire that anyone should die.’

It is so good to take the message of Ezekiel deeply to heart, and to make this the refrain of our prayer. We will surely find the Lord leading us to pray for many as we do so.

By reminding us that the Lord does not want to hold doom over anyone, but rather that everyone should freely and deeply turn to Him and be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth, Ezekiel shows himself to be one of the truly great prophets of repentance and forgiveness. The Lord is the Great Absolver, but not the acquitter of the unrepentant, for nothing that is unclean can have any place in His holy city.

Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Lord GOD. Wouldn’t I prefer that he turn from his ways and live? . . . Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.” ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord GOD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked should turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! (Ezek. 18:23,32; 33:11)

The Midterm Elections – Democracy in the balance as a result of the MAGA far-right

As we have been repeatedly saying, in these topsy-turvy days the people of God everywhere need to a sharper discernment so that we may truly be able to distinguish between good and evil (Heb. 5:14) and between truth and lies.

I am grieving deeply over the choices being presented to the American electorate. On the one hand we have the Democrats, a party who are playing the pro-abortion card for all they are worth as their primary means of appeal, while on the other, the Republicans are fielding a majority of candidates for senior positions who continue to insist – without the slightest evidence to back up their claims – that the 2020 election was stolen.

The evidence given to the January 6th Committee has proved beyond any reasonable doubt that such an idea is compete nonsense, but with the opinion polls pointing strongly to the Republicans regaining control of Congress in the mid-term elections, and eager to dissolve this Committee as well as to impeach certain leading Democratic figures, the stakes could hardly be higher. (Cf this article in the Washington Post more than a year ago.)

President Biden’s administration is considerably more committed to supporting Ukraine than the Republican party – and even then, it is only just sufficient. Republicans can, of course, make out two good cases for reducing American support: their own domestic challenges on the one hand, and the need to be preparing themselves for the prospects of ever-increasing tensions with China, on the other. Putin will be delighted!

So much depends on the outcome of these mid-term elections, and not least on Kevin McCarthy, should he become the Speaker of the House. Will he have the courage to keep the lies and pressure groups of the far right at bay, given his need for their support? I find myself in tears at the thought.

See this article from the European council on foreign relations that warns that ‘The current trickle of “blame Europe” arguments may turn into a torrent if the Republicans take control of Congress in November.’

In which case, it is more important than ever that Europe steps up to the plate – especially given that its population exceeds that of the USA, but has only been contributing something like one fifth the resources that American has generously made available.
Equally worryingly, there is not only the threat of voter intimidation to keep many from casting their vote, but also the desire of the Republicans to appoint their own [highly partisan] tellers in future elections. Given Donald’s Trump brazen attempts to influence the count last time round in various States, this might well prove disastrous for democracy.

So long as Trump continues to call those arrested for breaking into the Capitol ‘political prisoners,’ and refuses to denounce violence – and so long as Florida governor, Ron de Santis sets out to prove that he can be more Trumpian than Trump, the social and spiritual outlook for America remains deeply concerning.

O Lord, the heart and soul of America . . . we mourn and pray for it – as well as for our own respective countries. How You long for it and sigh over it, Lord. May there come a breakthrough of humility, discernment and turning to You.

The Covering over the Land (i) From the Epicentre in Downing Street outwards

For as I was out walking, I saw your many altars, and one of them had this inscription on it—‘To the Unknown God.’ You have been worshiping Him without knowing who He is, and now I wish to tell you about Him. (Paul in Athens; Acts 17:23)

Father, You call us to pray for our leaders, and as a new set take up their positions at Number 10 and in the Cabinet, we pray that You will actively empower them to provide the best direction possible at this time when the forecast is for corkscrew waves and strong headwinds.

We are struck by the fact that this nation that has called on Your Name for so much of our history is now looking for leadership, honour and integrity to a man who serves another god. We pray Your strength and favour on the relatively few in high places who know and acknowledge You, that their influence may be out of all proportion to their number.

Lord, You have heard and seen so much that has gone on at Number 10 through the years: the good and the bad. We come before You to ask Your cleansing of this vital hub and engine of our democracy from all that has polluted, misled and exalted so much that is not of You, and we ask You to prosper and preserve all that is good and godly.

It is perhaps inevitable that many people felt relief at the appointment to the premiership, of a man who can fairly claim to have helped millions by his financial furlough scheme packages during lockdown. Given the way things are, there is no surprise that our nation should be looking first and foremost for financial stability. But this of itself is a long way from seeking the King of the Kingdom of God with all our hearts.

Although our direct covering comes from the Lord His people, and not from our political leaders, the appointment of Britain’s first Hindu Prime Minister, who made his oath not on the Bible but on the Baghavad Gita does raise some serious spiritual questions. The fact that his appointment came on Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Light, will undoubtedly be seen by many as an auspicious sign – but will there be any spiritual implications from this? It is important to remember that Hinduism is still a religion of idols, abounding in sacrifices, but with no hint of a God who comes down and reaches out to us.

Some of you will remember my publication from well over thirty years ago, called ‘The Hindu Challenge’ that went into considerable depth about the essence of Hinduism, and its effect on all it comes into contact with. I also foresaw then the rise of the present hard-line approach that has long since prevailed and come to power in India.

The whole way in which the UK is plunging down the path toward the suggestion that all philosophies, faiths and gods are equal – the very syncretism the Lord has been warning about for so many years. Downing Street celebrates Hindu festivals, and Muslims pray fervently for Britain to become an Islamic land, and society commends all manner of beliefs and behaviour. Are we not ‘broadcasting’ an open invitation to any number of spiritual powers to come and rule and reign in our midst in such ways? That at least is what Alex Buchanan warned would happen many years ago.

Alex brought some of the most significant and weighty words I have heard in my lifetime, at both a personal and a national level, and while there are those whose theology and outlook will make it hard for them to receive this as truly a message from the Lord, others strongly sense His heartbeat in, through and behind it, and accordingly take it very seriously. As someone who knew Alex personally, and who received very accurate words of prophecy from him, I take it very much to heart.

That said, this timely article from Premier Christianity, reminds us that ‘the Bible has relatively low expectations or demands for government because the real action in God’s world is the growth of His kingdom through the church. We are warned not to put our trust in princes, as they cannot save us, but to put our trust in the Saviour.’

The real battle for the heart of the nation is still more with certain types of liberal self-reliant philosophies. Let’s continue to ask the Father, in the Name of Jesus, that the eyes of this nation would be opened to see the True Light of the world.

Shifting Seasons in the Westminster Village and for us all

You have shaken the land and torn it open. Mend its fractures, for it is quaking. You have shown Your people desperate times. You have given us wine that makes us stagger. But for those who fear You, You have raised a banner to be unfurled to flee from the bow. Save us and help us with Your right hand, that those You love may be delivered. (Psalm 60.2-5)

In the light of unparalleled mayhem we have been witnessing in Parliament over these last months and years, the word ‘quaking’ in the psalm above seems particularly significant – especially considering the extraordinary decision to make the vote for fracking a three-line whip matter, given that fracking remains a questionable procedure for both the UK’s geology and its long-term energy supplies. (Plans to develop it have now been cancelled by the new administration).

How Britain has become one of the poorest countries in western Europe – and why there is no simple fix for Britain’s economy

Because of decisions that were taken in the past to focus on financial services rather than manufacturing, Britain’s economic situation is much weaker than most people realise now that that sector has been hit so hard.

This article explains concisely the reasons why there are no simple solutions and no easy way back. All the evidence is that the waters are set to continue to shelve very steeply for us with regard to our energy supplies in the near to mid-term – which means there will be many really difficult decisions to take in the days ahead. May the Lord have mercy on all who are facing, or who will be facing truly devastating consequences as a result of the recent chaos in the financial markets.

Prayer for Rishi Sunak

The Lord is concerned for people in ‘high places’ and the policies that they implement, not least because they have such a far-reaching impact on so many. Without praying for a smoothing over of wrong things that need facing up to, let us make it our first concern to pray for Rishi Sunak and his family, with this prayer from a friend:

Father, we commend to your care Rishi Sunak and his family.

Thank you for his gifts and abilities. Give him wisdom, and the integrity, compassion and humility about which he spoke in the day of his appointment.

We pray for all those who he has appointed as ministers, and especially to join his cabinet. Enable them to join him in a shared desire to serve the nation for the common good, without being controlled or diverted by personal agendas.

Protect him and his family from every malicious threat and danger.

We give you special thanks that he brings to us his Indian heritage. May it have an enriching and positive influence. Enable him to be a force for unity in areas of division.

Father, he does not know You, but You know him. Have mercy that he does not presently know or acknowledge the love and glory of Christ, and openly honours other gods. Let the harm of this be minimised in his own life and in our national life. And for our country we declare in the heavenly realms ‘Jesus is Lord.’ Look with mercy upon us Lord, and in spite of those many things which dishonour you in this land we pray ‘Lord, glorify Your great and mighty name. You have glorified it before. Glorify it again.’ (John 12:28)

Covering over our land (ii) Come Lord Jesus, no matter how great the darkness

Like the word from Alex Buchanan, Chris Wickland warns of violence and uprising ahead in our streets. These are heavy words, and they deserve to be weighed and taken seriously. If we hear the heart of the Lord in them then we will surely want to cry out to the Lord to mitigate the severity of what would otherwise happen.

Through absolutely no fault of his own, Rishi Sunak represents many fault lines with the potential for more shaking in this nation: Muslim versus Hindu (foreshadowed by recent events in Leicester), rich versus poor, racial divides . . . may the Lord find ways to use him as a means of unity rather than of division. What has happened in Leicester is a warning in this regard. Situated geographically in the middle of the nation, Leicester has long been ‘majority ethnic’. We have rightly been concerned about attack from the outside at this time, but let’s not underestimate the forces that are building in our own country, and which have the potential to get ugly – as seen in the recent unrest in the city. Initially triggered by a cricket match between India and Pakistan, it reignited many latent tensions. Significant police involvement was required to restore order, along with community leaders on both Hindu/Muslim sides pleading for calm amongst the young men.

The Lord has many ways to turn what we see and hear ‘in the natural’ into spiritual parables and messages, just as Jesus Himself did. He spoke to one friend as her kettle fell to pieces in her hands, warning her that there are ‘walls’ that are going to come down. This echoes Chris’s word. Let’s pray for all who find themselves caught up in the rush of escaping steam and scalding distress.

Father, we pray that you will limit, stem and moderate any violent uprising in this land, and bring true peace. We seek the peace and prosperity of this land which we love and where You have planted us. (Jer. 29:7) Please bring into position those who will be ready and able to take on its leadership in due time. Your Kingdom come here, Lord; Your will be done, just as it is in Heaven.

I am reminded of Noel Richards and Gerald Coates’ song Great is the darkness (Come Lord Jesus). The darkness is indeed great, but come Lord Jesus, pour out Your Spirit we pray in a truly far-reaching revival.

Covering over the Land (iii) – The Airwaves

Daniel was told of a time when many would ‘roam to and fro,’ when knowledge would increase. (Dan. 12:4) We can certainly see how the angel’s words might be applied in our own day, when we can find answers to almost any question at the click of a button – or even by asking a personable device to speak to us and tell us what we want to know. But what sound is conjured up by all our seeking and questioning? And what sound is broadcast by the answers we receive? God spoke light into the darkness: what do we speak? And who and what are we listening to?

The BBC has just celebrated its 100th birthday, and it has brought us so much over the years, during which it has been part and parcel of the lives of millions. Its aim of being completely impartial has been commendable, though an increasing number of people have long been expressing concern at certain liberal values, and at times it has brought us great national affairs, such as Queen Elizabeth’s Funeral, as well as incredible insight into the glories of Creation (think Countryfile, Blue Planet, Frozen Planet etc). At the same time, it has poured out a steady stream of polluting sounds and contaminating imagery. The admixture is so striking and disturbing it is no wonder that we both love and mistrust it. (Cf James 3:10).

We are rightly concerned about industrial pollution and climate change, but in our day, we have deeply infected and adulterated our spiritual climate too. When the Berlin Wall fell, some of the first consignments of Western literature into the former East Germany consisted of pornographic material on the one hand and volumes of liberal theology on the other. Ouch.

Yet we have also seen the gospel finding its way into the nooks and crannies of lands with borders closed against it, by means of radio and digital communication channels – praise God! Let’s pray for such programs to achieve all they can whilst the door is still open and the light can shine. Pray too for godly channels to find ways to survive and prosper in these days; Premier Radio, for instance is currently facing a huge financial challenge, and they are surely not alone in this.

Forgive us, Lord, for all that we have produced and listened to and watched, that defiles and contaminates. We dedicate the airwaves afresh to you. Tilt us toward that which is good and godly, and raise up men and women of stature and integrity – a new generation to succeed those like Huw Edwards who are preachers in their own right, and whose faces are turned towards You even as they face the nation.

A major prophetic warning as to where this admixture will lead

Back in 1968, an elderly and clearly very godly Norwegian lady received an extremely challenging word from the Lord, which she passed on to an experienced but somewhat bewildered evangelist. Although this word was given at a time when television was still in its relatively innocent infancy, it reads like many of the visions from the book of Revelation. The fact that is speaks about the outbreak of a devastating Third World War only makes it the more poignant.

Lord, have mercy upon us.

Autumn Mists

This improvisation feels particularly poignant to mark this season that is marking significant shifts in the structure, makeup and prosperity of our land. See where the Lord leads you by way of pictures, words, images and impressions as you listen to it. It was played for us in Berlin recently by Peter Richards, Thomas, Susanne and Julia Herzog as part of the Sounds of Heaven project.

Some who have heard this piece feel that it articulates and expresses a sad awareness of a time of transition, brought about by foreign influences, of struggle and hardship, although it is far from lacking in offering hope at the end of it.

One person commented that it also spoke of a time for surrendering and settling into a long of winter, but that this music also seems to herald a promise of reawakening with purposeful strength, drawn from a place of deep encounter with the Lord.

Another, who was touched by the way in which the trees are letting go of this year’s foliage in such resplendent colours, prays,

May I let go of both blessings and burdens and surrender them both to Your loving care. Fallen leaves pattern the ground with variety. So Lord, design my own fallings and failings into whatever design will please You most.

I am thinking too, of those in the Autumn of their years, full of richness and fruit, but perhaps feeling empty and hollow, lonely and isolated – and yet who have a wealth of memories and insights to share with others.

Lead us to befriend the lonely with Your love, Lord. Let us be ready to learn from their wisdom and help harvest their inner wealth. All for Your glory, Lord.

Putin has launched a hybrid war against the West – and it is only escalating

War has “always been the mother of invention,” wrote the historian A. J. P. Taylor. The First World War, in particular, is often seen as a hinge point in the history of technology, for it was the last war in which horses were widely used, and the first which saw weapons of mass destruction.

The introduction of swarms of deadly but inexpensive drones from Iran has been as much a game changer for Putin, as have the infinitely more expensive HIMARS weapons system for Ukraine. As you will have seen on your television screens, Ukraine’s economy is now in serious danger of total collapse, and in need of a huge amount of shoring up at every level.

Russia is losing the war on the ground and is therefore threatening in many other directions.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has now begun to make the specific threats I was expecting would come against western satellites. Russia does indeed have the capacity to do this. The thought of our wars being expanded into space is real, and horrible, as this important synopsis shows.

The danger to undersea cables

We mentioned in the last edition, as on many occasions over the last decade, the vital matter of the specialist fleet of Russian submariners who have been training for just such projects. This would disrupt the whole of ‘wired’ western life in ways we cannot imagine. Quite what the Lord may think and be saying about the quality of this western life is another matter, but we would be failing in our duties if we were not to pray about the matter – especially as there have been a number of undersea incidents recently. And while there is no direct proof yet that Russia was involved in any of them, there is clearly a need to pray for protection.

There were, for instance, not only the explosions under the Nord Stream pipelines, but also major Internet outages in France as well as in Shetland. One friend from Shetland wrote to say that, ‘There is evidence that a Russian ship was in our waters at the same time the cables were cut. It took a detour en route to Brazil’). (!)

Then there is Germany, where overhead cables were recently cut in two places, causing all trains to come to a standstill, and Norway, following a repeat of an episode last year in which cables were being deliberately severed. The finger of suspicion then was pointed at the Russian government, because these important undersea cables connect Norway with the Arctic, in highly sensitive territory, as this article explains.

We have mentioned before how significant and threatening Russian activity has been in recent years in the Arctic – to the point of amounting to what is beginning to be called a new Ice War.

Even if this does indeed turn out to be another example of Putin escalating matters –it is still only at a step-by-relatively small step compared with what he would be capable of if he were to unleash his full submersible cable breaking resources.

Father, the world as we know it is effectively only a few snips of a cables away from being plunged into a new dark age – just as it would be if nuclear weapons are used. We are so dependent on our digital connections. Father, mobilise all resources to protect these slim vital fibre cables we pray.

We ask You to oversee and overrule these multiple threats, and to enable defence and security units of the world’s various intelligence, police and armed forces to be utterly alert and effective in guarding vital cables – as well as governments for providing the resources to do so effectively.

We pray in particular for the vital cables positioned off the Irish coast.

Raise a hedge around all these communications and important gateways when used for good, we pray. Amen

Lord, we pray intelligence is one step ahead of all plans to harm or disrupt crucial infrastructure. Thwart enemy activity and arrest their intentions. These threats seem to be becoming a fast reality but we ask for divine protection and intervention where evil is being plotted.

You are the Lord of the seas and everything in it.

We ask You again Lord to be at work behind the scenes, even as You ultimately were to thwart Nazi Germany’s intentions.

We have mentioned before that Putin is committed to playing a long game, calculating that Russia is better placed and more inclined to endure prolonged economic hardships than the comfort-loving West. As I shared in the last edition, his hope for some time has been that ’weaponizing’ energy will have the knock-on effect of causing populist regimes to emerge across Europe, who will put their own national interests above their commitment to a coalition in support of Ukraine.

And then there is the greatly ramped up threat of ‘dirty bombs.’

Father, we pray too for real wisdom in discerning what Putin is up to accusing the west/Ukraine of use of dirty bomb. Frustrate the plans of the Russians in this plan, Lord, and pull the thread that unwinds the web of cloth Putin has woven. Provide the intelligence and confound all attempts, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Praying for confusion (!)

No, there is no typo in that title! I am currently reading Len Deighton’s detailed history of the Battle of Britain, which goes into events from both the German and the British perspective in great detail.

Something that jumps off many of the pages are the number of times that German intelligence and High Command made completely wrong assumptions and decisions during the course of 1940, thereby saving the British from catastrophic consequences. There was similar confusion when Germany sought to invade Russia, and in its persistent belief that the D-Day landings would be in the Calais region and not in Normandy.

When the history of the present war is written up, it will surely include accounts of a great many miscalculations made on the part of Russia. It is both right and necessary to ask the Lord to send spirits of division and confusion upon senior Russian leaders and councils, so that they may take what will turn out for them to be the very least efficient courses of action, and so enable many to escape with their lives.

Ivan the Terrible’s violent ways, which have never been repented of, go a long way toward explaining the mentality and behaviour of Russian troops.

The sickening accounts of the horrors suffered by Ukrainians at the hands of Russian troops, is sadly only too much in keeping with tales from previous wars. The following is a detailed article that provides important insight in the historical nature of this Russian cruelty and motives, helpfully interpreted for us through the lens of the Baltic Secret Intelligence Services. It helps us to understand several things with regard to:

  • a) Putin’s intention to obliterate Ukraine,
  • b) the cruelty of the Russian forces in Ukraine, and
  • c) his complete lack of compassion for Ukrainians.

It is well worth a read if you can make the time.

If you don’t have the time, a friend has picked out the following salient points from the article for us here.

  • • All 3 heads of Baltic intelligence say that the root of Russian mentality of barbaric cruelty goes back to Ivan the Terrible, and that this is a cultural root.
    My friend was struck by the way in which Manasseh, although evil, repented at the end of his life, but Ivan (as far as we know) did not. The barbaric violent treatment of people has continued down through Tsarist times and Communist times to today. There is a photo of a dog in Ukraine who has been found (alive) with a V burnt into its forehead . . . This is wanton cruelty.
  • Negotiations are meaningless because force is the only language Putin and Russia value. In their eyes there should only be one winner, and it should be the strongest side. They don’t want everyone to win.
  • Even moderate Russians look down on Ukrainians and see them as having little or no value. This was true when I lived in Russia – the Russians laughed at the Ukrainian accent, as if it were the language of uneducated peasants. Ukrainians are treated as ‘less than’ – very much as the Nazis used to look down on all people of Slavic origin.
  • Russians are used to suffering. Suffering alone does not provide sufficient motivation for them to risk speaking up. They might complain or joke about it among close friends, but not to the point of doing anything about it. (That is why the brave response of many protesters is so astonishing).
  • Putin’s desire is simply to increase his rule over as much territory as possible. Russia ends wherever Russia is stopped. Which is why the Baltics and Finland are so much on their guard at this time.

Further Prayer concerning Russia

Father, these are huge things and we feel the weight of them. We lift these burdens to you. Lord. Come and cleanse the Russian nation of this evil. Forgive them their sins! Soften their hearts, enable them to hear your word and repent. Remove the scales from their eyes, free them from the spirits that blind them and that incite hatred and violence, for they are part of the evil spirit that has been imposed on the Russian nation.

Restrain and remove the evil that grips that nation. Give many Russians a hunger and a thirst for something more than they are currently experiencing, and draw them to Yourself. Empower and enable Russians from all walks of life to humble themselves before You, to act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with You. In all of this, we pray that You will strengthen Your true church there and give them courage to speak up and discernment to know when to speak and what to say. Build your church, Lord!

Father, a great idolatry is now pursuing the West – which in turn is full of idols of its own making. Every step that Putin takes plunges the world into ever greater danger. He is a street fighter and a poker player, who knows only to escalate the stakes when faced by setbacks. He is also a gangster armed with nuclear weapons and, in the very short term, almost unlimited funds, who in his own way appears to have sold his soul for military hardware and rockets in much the same way that the leader of North Korea has done.

We are dealing with a clash of ideologies, but whose repercussions are now being felt more and more on earth; the shelling of nuclear power plants in Ukraine being but the outer rim and edge of a potentially catastrophic situation.

We pray for the obvious things Lord: the readiness of armed forces, the decisions taken at Number 10, and the United Nations and the White House…. (Especially if still more lethal weapons do get used at any point). But we recognise that it is above all what is decreed in the heavenly places now that is the most important thing of all.

Jesus, You see Putin’s seething hatred towards the West, and his constant calculations as to what he can and might not get away with. Just as you thwarted Sennacherib, but initially permitted Nebuchadnezzar to inflict much damage, we ask You to thwart this man’s collaboration with destructive powers of darkness that would goad him ever further down a very slippery slope. Turn even his paranoia against him to restrain him, we pray in Jesus’ name.

Life in Ukraine

Right from the start of hostilities (and remember that in the Donbas region, this goes back to 2014), I have been reminded of the trench warfare of the First World War and the grim condition that combatants and locals alike are enduring.

I am reminded of the stories of life in the south of England during WW2, when people went about in fear of V1 and V2 missiles falling from the sky right where they lived.
Although so many of the attacks have been indiscriminate, the fact is that Ukrainian energy infrastructures have been very hard hit in the last few day, and repairs will take much time, labour and resources.

We are concerned at the prospect of there being odd black out nights in Britain, but in Ukraine they are looking at something entirely different for the coming bitter winter.

Shortly before the Berlin Wall fell, we were leading a conference in a very cold retreat centre in North Wales, praying for the Lord to do a miracle in bringing down the Iron Curtain.

We were particularly touched to pray for Romania, which at the time was suffering a series of debilitating power cuts. Suddenly we lost all power ourselves, and were given a chance to identify more deeply with what they were going through.

Nothing daunted, the worship group began to play Mozart’s brilliant Eine kleine Nachtmusik – a little night music – from memory!

Just as we are praying for every family affected by the cost-of-living crisis, so now we pray and declare in the words of Zechariah 4:7, great grace, GRACE to all affected as a result of these drone attacks.

Pray too for the 60,000 who were told to evacuate Kherson.

Only the Lord knows the full horrors of what has been going on in places like Kherson. You may remember this article that we sent out many weeks ago.

Now, as you will have heard, the citizens of Kherson have been told to evacuate.

Rumours abound. Will those of military age be forced to fight against fellow Ukrainians?

If they are carted off to Russia, then we are straightforward back in the days of the Soviet Union with mass deportations. The cruelty is unimaginable. Lord, have mercy on this exodus and this imposition of martial law. Be with every single person caught up in this unwanted conflict.

European support for Ukraine

As we have mentioned before, the US has spent five to six times more aiding Ukraine’s efforts than Europe combined, despite Europe having a larger population and a greater economy. This really will need to change – especially with the Republicans warning that if as the polls predict they win the mid-term elections they will no longer be willing to provide Ukraine with an “open cheque.”

More than ever, this requires European unity – and this is one of the very central things that Putin is targeting in his hybrid war, in his bid to make countries so obsessed with preserving their own economies that they will pull back from supporting Ukraine in such costly ways. In some cases, of course, this plays into the hands of existing policies – such as Hungary having signed a new gas deal with Russia, and Berlusconi and Putin exchanging regular ‘gifts and sweet letters’.

Italy is a key nation to pray for in this regard. Mercifully, the new Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, is made of sterner stuff and remains firmly committed to Ukraine.

Considerable tensions between France and Germany emerged at the recent EU summit. For those with an interest in this important matter, (after all, nations have gone to war over such things in the past) see this article and this article.

Father, we have been so tardy in providing Ukraine with the wherewithal it has needed to shoot down drones, but even at this late stage we ask for the necessary reinforcements – and pray that by Your own hand outstretched You will cause many of these drones to be deflected; and for enormous success to repair so much of Ukraine’s national grid that has been knocked out, as well as grace for those obliged to endure the ensuing cold and discomfort.

Persecution of Christians in the annexed provinces of Ukraine

Further south in the annexed provinces, there is disturbing and widespread evidence of systematic persecution against non-Orthodox believers, very much along Soviet lines.

The following verses from Psalm 68, below, would be a perfect psalm to pray on behalf of those suffering and fighting in Ukraine.

The Lord announces the word,
and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng:

‘Kings and armies flee in haste;
the women at home divide the plunder.
Even while you sleep among the campfires,
the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver,
its feathers with shining gold.’

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Saviour,
who daily bears our burdens.
Our God is a God who saves;
from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.

Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies,
the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins.

Your procession, God, has come into view,
the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary.

In front are the singers, after them the musicians;
with them are the young women playing the tambourines.

Praise God in the great congregation;
praise the LORD in the assembly of Israel.

Summon your power, God;
show us your strength, our God, as you have done before.

(most Hebrew texts have: ‘Your God has summoned power for you’)

Rebuke the beast among the reeds,
the herd of bulls among the calves of the nations.

Humbled, may the beast bring bars of silver.
Scatter the nations who delight in war.

Amen

Concerning what is going on in Russia itself

Whilst we remember our Christian brothers and sisters in both Ukraine and Russia, let’s also give thanks and pray protection for Father Grigori, who is Russia’s most prominent anti-war priest.

The power given to Russian local authorities to exercise control over their regions is alarming, and many men are attempting to hide from the military draft. This article offers a disturbing insight into life in Moscow at this time.

We recently watched a lovely young man in Russia taking an incredible brave but humble stand, declaring that he was a true patriot, who would willingly come running were his country truly to be under threat, but who refused point blank to accept the order to mobilise and be dispatched to the front to fight in a war that need never be fought.

With news of churches suffering greatly in the annexed provinces of Ukraine, we are back in territory only too familiar from the days of Soviet oppression, when power was concentrated in the hands of local authorities, and mandated by central government, for the simple reason that it kept the populace under control. There was no recourse to justice or righteousness then when injustices were committed, and there remain many that have never been addressed to this day.

Because we know that what is not confessed tends to recur again, see ‘The Importance of Remembering’ in my 2015 article ‘Praying for Russia’.

As I shared in a recent Mashal,

‘Anything that might tell another side to the story, such as the real-life cases being publicised by Amnesty International or Memorial, the Human Rights Watch centre that kept alive the memory of Soviet-era injustices, is being ruthlessly suppressed. The closure of these organisations represents a great loss. Nations that do not remember well are prone to repeat the sins and errors of the past – but making such memories accessible to all does not fit in with the image of a newly resurgent Russia that has nothing to be ashamed of.’

Prayer for Russia

Oh Lord, raise up voices from within the nation,
to resist the tyrant’s call to war,
so that at the last sufficient internal dissatisfaction
may succeed where external force and pressures could never quite prevail.

Mighty God, strengthen many in Your midst,
to take their stand and to whether whatever pressures are brought to bear.

In his dialogues with North Korea and Iran, in quest of weapons and ammunition, we can be sure that it would not have crossed Putin’s mind to raise the issue of human rights; yet You, Lord, are thinking of each imprisoned persecuted one – and indeed hard on many levels.

We ask You to be at work in doing all that is needed now to save the world from plunging deeper far into self-induced decay.

We acknowledge all the ways in which we have contributed to this decay – as a nation in the choices we have embraced, and as individuals in our far from perfect responses to many provoking challenges.

Forgive our foolish, foolish ways.

And yet we dare to ask come Lord we pray afresh into this weary bloodstained world,
in the icy grip it finds itself in
where hunger, pestilence, want and war stalk,
and ruin now lies very near.

Lord, even as restless winds shriek and the waters threaten
(not least if the Dnipro dam be breached)
come now to establish Your full and deeper purposes –
however imperfectly we perceive them.

For although there is much we cannot fathom of Your call,
since Your ways are past finding out, (Is. 55:9, Rom. 11:33)
in our hearts we would respond to this call to worship You,
and trust that You will take and use what we do not yet fully understand but offer up to You.

Before we plunge into address the weight of daily duties this day, we pause to wait on You;
to savour afresh the blessing of Your concern,
and to yield, yield, yield all things into Your Fatherly hands.

Amen.

Praying for Belarus at this time when there is renewed danger from the North

All last week, I found Belarus coming regularly to mind. Apart from remembering all those who were, and in some cases may well still be, imprisoned for their part in the protests against the hard-line dictator Alexander Lukashenko last year, the last thing the Ukrainians need is an incursion from the north and to be fighting on yet another front.

Let’s remember to pray for this country that is so often overlooked, and pray for the power of God to be at work in this impoverished land, which is still suffering greatly from the legacy of the Chernobyl disaster.

But 9000 troops from Russia are scheduled to arrive in Belarus, and are boasting of being in fine fighting spirit.

See too this brief overview from Operation World.

Praying for the Lord to be at work on the front lines

As huge numbers of combatants facing each other, all with their own fears, hopes and ideals – some with bravado but many wishing they were back with their families – so let’s keep praying for the work of God on the front lines.

Father, the military environment is anything but conducive to quiet reflection’ nevertheless, in these extended front lines, where fear is everywhere, and the culture is inevitably one of survival instinct, macho aggression, and much bad language, we pray that You will activate in many soldiers’ lives all such seeds as have been sown in them of spiritual truth – and all such witness as their believing fellow soldiers share with them.

Activate and reactivate we pray all that people serving on the front lines have learnt about You through contact with Sunday schools or church, or through direct contact with the word of God – as well as the example of praying mothers and grandmothers. Yes Lord, right there on the front lines, we pray for Your Spirit to be at work to make the God of Israel known as the one true Everlasting Father: the God of the whole world at this time, and Jesus His Son, the Saviour of the world.

Concerning Sunday’s second-round run-off vote for the next Brazilian President

We have sought in the past to round up prayer for this vast country, and now again in this election decider. Like Donald Trump in America, the current office holder, President Bolsonaro, has declared his readiness to question the outcome of the election ahead of time.

Join your voice in this heart cry prayer for this vast country, the size of Europe, and its equally vast needs; it remains as relevant now in this ultra-divisive time as on the day I recorded it some years ago.

The Brazilian election brings with it a worldwide concern for the Amazon Rainforest, and there was widespread hope that the new government would, if not actively promoting its welfare, at least prevent so much destruction. These hopes appear to be in jeopardy now. Although Bolsonaro himself may not win the run off, his staunchly right-wing supporters have won increased representation in both Chambers of Congress. In other words, ‘Bolsonarism’ has gained a greater momentum than is suggested by the opinion polls even if its leader himself loses his position.

All this would appear to be an out and out win for the vast agribusiness and mining factions, very much to the detriment of environmental conservation. The main effect of this will be that Lula, if he is indeed elected President, will find it extremely difficult to get any meaningful measures or reforms though the legislature.

Meanwhile, gun sales have been rising sharply in anticipation of the result.

Remarkably, perhaps as many as a third of Brazil’s population of 215,000,000 are now thought to be evangelical in this fundamentally Catholic country. There is a strong Catholic charismatic movement, but other parts of the church are heavily affected by spiritism and nominalism. As in America, we see a vast number of sincere Christians embracing an extreme right-wing leader with intense fervour.

This article in the Financial Times is helpful in pinpointing the reasons why so many believers continue to support Jair Bolsonaro – but also why many women, in particular, are having second thoughts.

The dire reality is that a huge percentage of Brazil’s children go hungry. This is unlikely to improve any time soon, but it is the vote of the poor that will most probably determine the outcome of this election.

Lord, we pray for Brazil – for peaceful and just elections. We pray for their new leader to be a person with a heart for the Brazilian people and for the good of this country.

Here are two other prayer casts to use as a starting point for sharing in praying for Brazil: Prayer Cast
and Prayer Cast Two

The following article is an in-depth examination of how politics and religion coexist and flow together in Brazil. As it is lengthy, I would recommend starting by searching for the phrase ‘Generally in Brazil, under the presidency of Jair Messias Bolsonaro, the demarcation between politics and religion has become more porous.’

Thank you for walking with us through this edition. I am hoping to include various reflective articles on several key contemporary issues in future editions, but on this occasion the pressure of so many utterly news- and prayer-worthy events happening so rapidly mean that I have only got so far in preparing these, and needed instead to focus on the right now headlines for prayer. Hopefully in forthcoming editions . . . God bless you all very much in your walk and pilgrimage with the Lord Jesus.