How what is happening in Ukraine is affecting the whole world order

Unpacking the details and seeking the Lord

Welcome to this resource-rich full magazine-length edition. It is coming to you as the world order as we have known it for many decades undergoes a level of threat and pressure we have not experienced in our lifetimes. As you will appreciate, writing normally requires space for reflection and perspective, but events are coming too thick and fast for that.

We have certainly felt ‘relentless-ified’by them, but as I have sought to provide a combination of spiritual resources to help fuel our prayers and specific insights and information that you might not always have had the time to seek out, may something of the voice of God be heard through the storm of gruesome events that are daily being brought to the attention of the outside world, to bring insight, comfort and encouragement as well as strategy for prayer.

Every crisis has many sides to it, and we shall be doing our best to explore a goodly number of them here, as we all in our own small but far from insignificant way do our best to mobilise for a struggle that is on a scale in terms of both size and horror not seen in decades.

With events moving so fast, many individual details are sure to pass swiftly into ‘history’, but many of the underlying trends look set to remain highly relevant. May we invite you therefore to spend some considerable time making your way through the articles and to follow up the really special musical items and other links that we are posting – there are some really exquisite offerings here. Once again please feel free to pass these on to friends, and to church and intercessory leaders.

Since the most important thing we can do is to seek the Lord, I have also included at the very end of the edition a link to a spoken version of Part Three of the article I wrote back in the mid-1980s on the theme ‘What are you doing Lord? A heart for Seeking God.’ It could hardly be more relevant!

Index

To those who seek His face, the Lord will reveal His heart – and give us tears

So many tears have been shed around the whole world as a result the destruction wrought by Putin’s invasion – which I liken in many ways to Sennacherib’s destruction of the Judaean towns surrounding Jerusalem.

It is important to approach this whole issue from deep within the Lord’s presence – and for many of us that has involved our tears flowing.

The Rabbis taught that tears are the highest form of all in prayer. And Spurgeon called tears ‘liquid prayer’. May the Lord count and treasure all the prayers that are being shed around the world for Ukraine.

Many years ago, at a moment in one of our conferences when we were praying about some very dark matters, God gave Lindsey Cummings a powerful song. The words – and the music – are so relevant for the present crisis.

SEE HERE . . .

A friend reminded me of a quote she had come across that,

‘The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That’s how much gratitude I can give. If I carry only grief, I’ll bend toward cynicism and despair. If I have only gratitude, I’ll become saccharine and won’t develop much compassion for other people’s suffering. Grief keeps the heart fluid and soft, which helps make compassion possible.’

The Rabbis taught that tears are the highest form of all in prayer. And Spurgeon called tears ‘liquid prayer’. May the Lord count and treasure all the prayers that are being shed around the world for Ukraine.

The war is coming ever closer

If it wasn’t so deadly serious, one would more and more be inclined to talk about Putin as an Ian Fleming style villain, with one man effectively holding billions across the world to ransom by potentially releasing radiation from the nuclear plants that are under their control – to say nothing of letting loose a storm of utter destruction on all within his range.

Many people in the know (including, very articulately, the former Ukrainian PM Volodymyr Groysman), for any who are able to access this report are warning that Putin has his sights on far more than just Ukraine, and that whilst it was his desire to regain Kyiv and Ukraine it is his aim to target NATO countries. Whether he will have sufficient strength left to do so after this bruising conflict is perhaps another matter. As President Zelensky has repeatedly said, Ukraine really is fighting on its own on behalf of all of Europe.

The question in many people’s hearts is whether Putin, when he has restocked his diminished supply of armaments, chooses to extend the conflict into the Baltic states, Poland and Moldova. He is far more likely to do so if China, which has refused to condemn the invasion, agrees to the request that American Intelligence claims to have overheard from Russia, asking China to provide both economic and military aid.

Given the pledge between Putin and Xi as recently as the day before the Winter Olympics in Beijing to lend each other unlimited support, this can only be considered highly probable, although this would not be without considerable economic cost to China, which would not take kindly to the sort of sanctions that have been levelled against Russia.

Putin is at his most dangerous when cornered, and there are risks of an ‘accident’ being arranged at one of the nuclear power plants that releases radiations leaks, as well as the ever-present risk of chemical attacks, and more vacuum bombs being used.

Nothing can be taken for granted. Assuredly in answer to prayer, many analysts have been astonished at how poorly the Russian armed forces have been performing. Nevertheless, nothing can be taken for granted, and Russia’s overwhelming firepower, including the previously unknown ability of its advanced Iskandar missiles to deploy decoys that divert and protect the main weapon from incoming anti-missile attack, plus extensive shelling, has enabled it to hit, and in many cases to destroy, more than 400 schools, numerous airports, hospitals and a truly colossal number of residential blocks.

His ground forces, however, have by no means had everything their own way. Progress there has been much slower than expected – for which the Lord, as well as support from NATO weaponry must surely take great credit. The next week or two, however, are crucial. All the evidence thus far is of the Russians resorting to ever more cruel, calculated and cynical attacks on civilian targets.

Given the pledge between Putin and Xi as recently as the day before the Winter Olympics in Beijing to lend each other unlimited support, this can only be considered highly probable, although this would not be without considerable economic cost to China, which would not take kindly to the sort of sanctions that have been levelled against Russia.

Day by day the stakes are spiralling – and belatedly, Europe has had a 9/11 moment, and is waking up with a start to the reality that close and seemingly all but unthinking involvement of the world’s principal democracies with out and out authoritarian regimes is not only profoundly unprincipled but also extremely dangerous.

Your spirit groans for peace and justice (Andy Flannagan and Sam Hargreaves)

President Zelensky’s address to Congress and military considerations

Ros and I watched President Zelensky speaking to the Congress. Here is another astonishing reversal. Who would have imagined either when he was first elected with no political experience behind him, or when he was being mauled by President Trump, that such an opportunity would ever come his way – and at such a critical time? He pitched it well: impassioned and powerful, and incredibly persuasive in the plea to ‘close the skies’.

Who in their right minds would not feel the same? But in many instances that would be to take no account of the technicalities and the realities on the ground: certain advanced weapons systems simply cannot be brought into a major battlefield. On other occasions, one still feels that not enough is being provided, with all the dangers this entails of leaving seeds of lingering resentment that could last for years.

There is a fundamental discrepancy here, therefore, between the desperate desire to protect Ukraine from further destruction, and the reality of what can sensibly be given or achieved.

Belatedly, this has goaded the Ministry of Defence into agreeing to send Star Streak anti-aircraft missiles. But since Ukraine has needed these so badly all along, why so long a delay? Now they have to be brought in at great risk and taken to where they are most needed.

Again, and again Ros and I have looked at each other in dismay at how the Western leaders have so often been at least one step behind the curve ball at every point, constantly afraid that they will not go too far and push the Russians to escalate. But they are escalating anyway.

As President Zelensky has repeatedly stated, Ukraine is fighting this battle against impossible odds on behalf of the entire Western world.

It is becoming ever clearer that the Russian regime at the moment is less a regime than a single person exercising complete control over the nation’s policies and practices: what you might call a “personal polity”. It is also well known that the true goal of Putin’s heart is to regain control of Kyiv.

I was constantly bemused why the Americans failed to send any Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to the Ukrainians before the invasion. There turns out to be an explanation – though again it should have been thought of before. They were understandably afraid that they might fall into enemy hands, and that the confidential information encrypted in them would fall into the hands of those who could make use of them by making their own equivalents.

All it took to nullify this risk was to remove a couple of screws to take out the confidential information – presumably on a chip – and now these vital hand-held missiles are being freely used. It is the slowness of arriving at such joined up thinking and planning and courage too!) that is so distressing to watch.

Father, our lack of decisiveness is having terrible consequences. So naïve have we been that we can barely even lift our eyes to ask Your forgiveness for this – but we can say that we are truly sorry, and we can and do pray for men and women of vision to respond not to human pressure, but to serious well thought out plans.

In the meantime, the plight of the hundreds of thousands still trapped without food or water in Mariupol is truly dreadful – and only too reminiscent of the horrors that happened in this very region in the 1940s, through the atrocities of Stalin on the one hand, and the Nazis on the other.

Pray for the citizens of Odessa and Kiev as they wait for the intense anticipated bombardment – and for Ukrainian commanders as they determine where to concentrate their forces in their courageous and remarkably successful attempts to seriously downgrade Russian logistical support, and hence their ability to operate freely.

Russian losses have been heavy, but whether or not the Chinese send the additional military aid that Russia has purportedly requested from them, they still have a colossal 700,000 people in their armed forces whom they can call on. The British Defence Ministry is already saying that they have started calling troops across from the far east of Russia.

This is a very ominous development. What Ukraine currently possesses in terms of defensive forces would not possibly of themselves be sufficient to withstand such a hefty infusion of fresh troops? At the time of writing, there is also a potential danger of the Ukrainian army being trapped in a pincer movement in the east of the country.

Lord, when Britain was at an incredibly low ebb and standing alone, You allowed the Japanese to attack America and so draw the United States into the war in time. Be Lord of the Nations at this critical time we pray, to avert the genocide of the nation, so that Ukraine may not become a full-on modern-day Armenia.

Russia is working hard to recruit mercenaries to join their invasion force –

. . .not least toughened fighters from Syria. But so too is Ukraine, whose newly established Foreign Legion is said by some to number many thousands. Many military analysts still regard the figure of 190,000 troops as being too low to permanently occupy and subdue a country as large as Ukraine, as opposed to inflicting massive damage on it.

We can imagine that conditions must be terrible for the Russian troops, too, both in terms of low morale, shortages of food and fuel and constant cold.

Remember the many who have had the courage in Russia to protest against the war – and also Ukrainians who have been taken prisoner. How will they be being treated by Russian forces that are not overseen by the Geneva Convention, and where their leader has declared that the nation does not deserve to exist?

Deliverance from Sennacherib’s armies and ‘Stopping‘ Babylon

Back in 1980, at about the time of the dream I mentioned previously about Russian troops moving into action many years after everyone had thought the danger was past, we used to meet regularly to pray fervently about that situation.

One of the strongest parallels He gave us at that time was to the rampaging Babylonians. Passages such as Isaiah 47 and Jeremiah 50 have been coming back to mind again, along with many others.

If ever there was a time to declare these verses!

‘The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations’.  (Ps 33:11)

Or, as it says, in 1 Maccabees 3:19 (which is in both the Catholic and Orthodox versions of the Bible), ‘Victory in war does not depend upon the size of the fighting force, but rather upon the strength that comes from Heaven.’ (NCB)

The Lord is the one who is forever . . . not ‘Babylon’.

See for example the great contrast between Isaiah 46 and 47.

But for now, the ‘Babylonians’ are oppressing and destroying continually – and quite definitely threatening the neighbouring countries, despite the weaknesses in their armed forces and their military strategy, which are becoming plainer and plainer to see. That percentage of readers who identify Russia with the biblical references to Gog and Magog might well be inclined to see this as a precursor of the dramatic events that are so graphically depicted in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39.

I thought it might be useful to remind ourselves of the whole story that is described in Isaiah 37 concerning that terrifying siege of Jerusalem (for Jerusalem read Kyiv etc) and make it the backcloth to our prayers for the present situation: not least with the expectation of chemical weapons being used (Lord send a wind to disperse them if they ARE used) – and most especially these verses:

“Because you rage against Me, and because your insolence has reached my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will make you return by the way you came.

By the way that he came he will return; he will not enter this city,” declares the Lord. (Is. 37:29, 34) Here’s a link to the whole chapter.

Enormous suffering is afflicting the nation, as witnessed by the overwhelming destruction and ‘martyrdom’ of several large Ukrainian cities, as well as by the enforced exile of millions. As we pray for the truly horrendous suffering being experienced in Mariupol, and for Kyiv to be spared the worst effect of bombing and chemical attacks, we must also recognise that if the Lord does not choose to bring about a miracle of deliverance, His purposes are not defeated, and that He will still bring about a remnant who are on fire for Himself.

As one friend was reminded, after re-reading the book of Jeremiah, there is a progression from a remnant to a remnant of the remnant to a remnant of the remnant of the remnant! It is totally understandable that most prayers and efforts are focussed on humanitarian concerns – but it is important to remember that God is preparing His people for the purposes of establishing His Kingdom – and that this is a process that involves constantly purifying His people. At this point, she warns, we have to be careful not to equate western democracy and freedoms with the Kingdom – however much more preferable it is to despotic authoritarianism.

May the Lord look upon this carnage, and demonstrate His saving power and mercy. To quote 2 Chronicles 20, ‘We do not know what to do but our eyes are on You,‘  but when Jehoshaphat was surrounded by a huge army, he gave himself to prayer and praise – and the Levites sang praises loudly the night before being sent out early the next day to praise God at the head of the army. And we know the ambushes that God set!

Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face (Ps. 89:15 ESV) We hold up the shield of faith between the city of Kyiv and the bombs. Redirect and intercept them, Lord. Jam the mechanisms of the rocket launchers. Lord have mercy!

If God answers prayers from all around the world, then Kyiv will be spared the grisly fate it endured in in the 13th century, when the inhabitants of Kiev were desperately hoping for a deliverance that never came to rescue them from the Mongols. It did not come then, but in due time Kiev rose again. This essay feels particularly poignant: ‘Kyiv will rise again’.

So too does the description of how the Lord saved the besieged city of Jerusalem in Hezekiah’s day from Sennacherib’s raiding Assyrian forces.

The land of Ukraine really is being ‘shaken and torn it open’, as Psalm 60 puts it, paralleling the situation concisely. So, we pray with the psalmist, ‘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 against the bow.’

The miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem described in 2 Kings 18 and 19 and again in 2 Chronicles 32, as well as Isaiah 35-37 has been on our hearts.

These words are amongst those which stood out to us that he came ‘with many chariots’ (read tanks) ‘and turned fortified cities into piles of stone.’ (2 Kings 19:23, 25)

The amazing and theologically stretching thing to note here is that, notwithstanding all the destruction as more and more townships are smashed and terrorised by bombing raids, encircled and now, increasingly, being occupied, Sennacherib ‘laid siege to the fortified cities, thinking to conquer them for himself.’ (2 Chron. 32:1)

All this took place within the Lord’s foreknowledge and purposes. He knewwhat He had to do to bring down a bad regime. We have to hold this understanding at one level, therefore, even whilst our hearts are consumed by grief at seeing the effects of this being worked out at ground level.  It was a long time before Jerusalem was miraculously delivered and Sennacherib was forced to retire from the fray in disgrace.

Putin’s expectation of being able to subdue Ukraine within a few days was a serious miscalculation, but now he has just resorted to destroying everything. May the Lord raise up the combination of a godly leader and prophetic prayer support like Isaiah to give hope to the nation and deliverance from so deadly a peril.

For now there is grief and dismay over the relentless bombardment. Right across Ukraine, airfields are being destroyed to hinder any attempt to resupply the Ukrainian people with either foodstuffs or spare parts for their military machine. There is need for both more Stinger and the promised Star streak anti-aircraft missiles to arrive safely and be properly deployed. 

The freeze and the thaw –The roles that ‘Generals Mud and Winter’ play

Ukrainians have been celebrating the elimination of two top Russian generals. It is certainly important to pray that advancing forces become bogged down and fail to reconfigure in such a way as to be able to fulfil their full potential, but it is a very different type of factor that is on my heart this morning.

By a whisker Adolph Hitler failed to advance his tanks into Moscow. As the great retreat began, so-called “General Winter” came to the aid of the Russians inflicting immense suffering on the ill-clad German forces.

Conditions must be grim for the Russian forces now, as well as for the besieged Ukrainians, especially those who are have run out of fuel in the northern column. I am still praying for what will happen when the thaw comes.

I keep hearing people say that that spring begins on March 20th – but let’s pray for the Lord to overrule that date. Yes, Lord, overrule in this vital matter we pray – and for what happens when the cloying mud becomes a major factor.

“General Mud Has Usually Been on Russia’s Side in War. But not This Time” The imminent thaw is another aspect in the whole situation for an invading army that simply wasn’t prepared for a long-term campaign.

Many of us will have been feeling great concern for the Ukrainian people (and indeed for Russian troops) in the sub-zero temperatures. At the time of writing the world is deeply grieved for the citizens of Mariupol,where the city is being put to a slow and agonising martyrdom, and where the stench of dead bodies left on the streets pervades everything.

As Russian casualties mount, Putin fears more and more that the news of these casualties – and of the civilian damage too – cannot fail to become better known in his own country, despite the extreme measures he has taken to try to stop this from occurring.

Putin also knows that there are only a relatively few days left before the thaw is due. Will the cloying mud that this releases make life incomparably harder for Putin’s attacking forces?

Putin’s expectation was of blitzkrieg success, but now with all 190,000 of his surrounding forces in Ukraine – it is plain that Russia is simply not geared up to resupply such a colossal army in the long-term.

Father, we are vividly aware that the Russian army has a long and terrible history of looting and raping wherever they conquer. We ask that You continue to restrain Putin, even as the enemy tries to goad him into ever more intense measures such as carpet-bombing whole towns.

A prophetic word about Putin’s invasion of Ukraine – and the consequences for him personally

Following the woeful inaccuracy of so many prophecies emanating from America regarding political events in the last ten years or so, we have been reluctant to pass on prophetic ‘words.’ This word that Kim Clement (now with the Lord) gave in 2014, and which Dutch Sheets passed on may be important though. Beyond the stark language, see if you find yourself in basic agreement with it – again remembering the date in which it was given. We are including an important PS to it that is to be found on his website, which Dutch did not include, as well as some thoughts about the prophetic ministry in general.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to make a declaration to the nations of the earth. The Spirit of God says, ‘Putin, I speak to you now. King Putin, you call yourself. Do you really believe that I raised up a king in the 80s by the name of Ronald Reagan to pull down a curtain and to destroy a wall that divided – for nothing? Did you really think I did that in vain, for you to stand and raise a wall and a curtain again? No, no! Putin, get out of My way! Get out of My way,’ says the Lord! ‘As I hardened the heart of Pharaoh for the benefit of My people, so have I hardened your heart.’

“For the benefit of My people, ecclesia, My church, My holy ones, My elect, and My land of Israel, I have hardened your heart, Mr. Putin. You see, I said I would lift My hand off Russia, off Russia for a season, and I did, and look what is happening. You are unbridled, King Putin. You are unbridled now, but I want you to know what I historically did to kings who took power and abused it. Ultimately, there will be freedom for the sake of My people.

Oh troublemaker who would stand and terrorize the world, My world,’ says the Lord, ‘I’ll put My hook in your nose and My bridle in your lips and I will turn you back by the way you came. And those who have survived and escaped will bear much fruit, much fruit,’ says the Lord. ‘That fruit shall be in Ukraine. That fruit shall be in the nations that you have encroached upon to take for your glory. I will cause a remnant to be raised up and bear much fruit for My kingdom,’ says the Lord.” (givehim15.com
and houseofdestiny.org/Kim Clements )

He also included a directly predictive prophecy that can only be found online on his site: As so often with the prophetic, it is given in what is commonly referred to in the prophetic perfect tense – that is, speaking of future events as though they have already happened, so sure are they to happen.

‘Now, Putin, says the Lord, I have sent a spirit upon you that shall cause you to return to your land, away from a sovereign land, because of rumours that you hear, and I will cause you to fall by the sword in your own land, says the Lord.’

Prophecy is judged by whether it happens – or is averted through repentance. What struck us is that Kim Clement’s prophetic word, which we quoted above, contains echoes of the incredible deliverance the Lord brought about for Jerusalem when Sennacherib led his vast army to destroy Judah. We understandably put the emphasis on the miracle the Lord did to deliver the city, but it is important not to forget that surrounding towns were taken and razed to the ground before this happened.

In other words, we have no idea how long it will be before Putin’s paranoia, presumably coupled with both internal and external events, combine to compel Putin to withdraw his forces to his own country – but we can certainly pray that news of his atrocities leaks out widely in Russia, and that things unravel more and more for the whole invasion program.

When seeking to weigh prophetic words, it is important to recognise that time is often “telescoped.” We are given a glimpse of some great upcoming event (such as the return of the Lord Jesus) but without being shown all the (in this case utterly gruesome) details of what happens in the meantime before that comes to pass.

Moreover, many, though not all, of these important mountain top victory deliverances may, in fact, be conditional on people pressing in and laying hold of them in faith and prayer.

Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy) – A Powerful Prayer to pray

I love the emphasis in Psalm 20 that our only hope is in the Lord. What can we do except to appeal to the Lord for mercy? We humble ourselves before You Lord, and seek Your face.
To help us do so, let’s join our supplication to this recording by Linda of Huw Humphrey’s powerfully beautiful Kyrie Eleison.

For Truth to Prevail

The matter of getting truth into Russia is a major issue. How can a nation be so bewitched? Only too easily when the poison has been drip feeding in for at least 22 years! Think how successful Fox News has been in a relatively short space of time in inducing something like 40% of Americans into believing, without the slightest evidence, that a perfectly fair election was rigged.

But although we are eager to get the truth to the Russian people (and to Americans too!) more often than not what we mean by that is political truth, when in reality is the truth of God’s saving love that is what really needs to be heard and acknowledged.

From a biblical perspective, the prophets often indicate that God uses invaders as His instruments to bring purification to His people, resulting in a remnant. Given the current circumstances, that is a far from palatable thought, but it might perhaps, at least in part, shift our attention to how God is building the Kingdom in us as opposed to what the enemy is doing.

At the same time, we pray for all who have had the courage to take a stand against these lies. See this courageous initiative from orthodox priests.

There is particular pain in hearing of the experience many Ukrainians have had when they contacted parents or relatives in Russia, and were met with a wall of unbelief, only to be told that tales of civilian casualties were fake news.

We pray for those back in Russia who perhaps did not want to believe these reports, given that the penalties for doing so are so extreme? Over ten years imprisonment if anyone refers to there being a war in Ukraine, or for criticising the military?

The BBC has revived short wave radio broadcasting in English to Russia for several hours a day, to counter the fact that BBC website is being blocked.

Jesus, it was hard for the people of Jerusalem to believe in You because of what the Pharisees said against You. The battle for truth was intense then just as it is now.

Father, we mourn all who were put off from following You because of the Sanhedrin’s opposition, and are listening to the Father of lies. Let the Spirit of truth stir in the hearts of many – and give both the courage and the strategy to know how to act in the light of that.

Father, You call us to respect the authorities, but You do not want those same authorities to lord it over all, as the Caesars attempted to do.

America must stand firm. This is not a regional war far away best left just to the Europeans; this is an all-out attack against democracy. As a totalitarian dictator, Putin hates everything that democracy stands for.

There are many in America who are reluctant to get involved, especially in the aftermath of the prolonged Afghanistan debacle. But they may need to be willing to make sacrifices in the days ahead, when higher prices and even food rationing look set to become a grim reality.

Needless to say, the Russian people were told that it is the Ukrainians who are pinning their own people down in a bid to stop them from escaping from Mariupol – just as in Syria the Russians claimed that it was the Syrians who were using chemical weapons to make it look as though it was the Russians!

We pray that You will yet reveal truth to those who are the victims of such lies in Russia, and find ways to show them what is really going on.

No one who practises deceit will dwell in My house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in My presence. (Ps. 101:7)

I will make justice the measuring line
and righteousness the plumb line;
hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie,
and water will overflow your hiding place. (Is. 28:17)

Will this conflict extend beyond Ukraine?

The grief of over three million refugees now at being forcibly and suddenly parted from loved ones goes far beyond anything we can imagine. Praise God for the incredible hospitality they are being offered in Poland, Moldova and Hungary, whose leader’s eyes have been opened the true nature of his old friend Vladimir Putin.

The greatest concern that many analysts have long been raising is that they do not believe that, if he has sufficient forces intact, Putin will stop at Russia’s borders. It is never too soon to be praying for where Putin’s eyes turn next, until the Lord removes his ability to do so.

Moldova in particular, greatly fears that it could be next in terms of Putin’s desire to regain control over countries that broke away from the Soviet Union. It has no army to withstand Russia, having already suffered when a part of this small country, Transnistria, broke away in a bloody conflict, declaring itself for Moscow. See again the prayercast we put out before: Prayercast | Moldova

See also this article about Estonia being on the qui vive.

But Poland, Lithuania and Estonia are all at risk too from Putin’s anger. Pray that he falls out with his leaders, and that they fight back. We need that something to happen that causes ‘Sennacherib’ to lose momentum. His regime depends on a widespread network of spies and secret police – and if they start to fall out with each other, or with him, this would surely be a big help!

What Chance the Diplomatic Efforts?

Unlike any previous dealings with the Soviet regime, there is a president in office who has a quasi-mystical outlook burning in his heart, both as regards where the boundaries of his own country should be and his idealisation of figures such as Peter the supposedly Great.
Of Putin it could be said, ‘Zeal for your house consumes me’ (meaning by that, the passion to reincorporate Kiev and Ukraine into Russia). But zeal – white hot passion – is only as valid as the object in which it is placed. Putin’s vision is seriously flawed on every level, not least his willingness to resort to every violent and underhand method to bring this about. He is a street fighter and judo specialist.

Amazingly, Russian armoured forces, and even its aerial assets, have taken a tremendous pounding, even before American missiles with a long range such as the S300 have reached the battle fields. John Simpson is a very wise commentator, and his belief that Putin will be looking for a face-saving way of bring hostilities to end is well worth reading.

For his part Zelensky is willing to drop any reference to drop any reference to ever becoming part of NATO, but negotiating a ‘safe’ settlement for Ukraine will be far from easy. Study the Putin era and you will see that there are often detailed talks – and ceasefires agreed – only for them to be cynically broken within a very short time – just as the Soviet Union used to systematically breech all the treaties it signed with others. Could one trust any agreement therefore to be truly adhered to? The signs are not good.

Any hope that the prolonged rounds of negotiating are going well are challenged, not to say directly contradicted, by Putin’s vehement denunciation of his own critics at home and of the West generally: “Any people, and especially the Russian people, will always be able to distinguish the true patriots from the scum and the traitors, and to spit them out like a midge that accidentally flew into their mouths.”

“I am convinced that this natural and necessary self-cleansing of society will only strengthen our country, our solidarity, cohesion and readiness to meet any challenge . . . If the West thinks that Russia will step back, it does not understand Russia,” he added.

Nevetheless, there does appear to be some hope for the latest Turkish – Russian initiative, which is similar to the one that the Prime minister of Israel discussed with Putin in Moscow. May all that is genuine and workable be agreed.

History warns us that it is much easier to start wars than to end them, even as the Russian war in Afghanistan continued for 7 years after Brezhnev, who had started it under three new presidents. Millions are praying that the Lord will work swiftly, but there is nothing to guarantee that this will happen o hat this conflict will be short lived or contained.

Talk of Ukraine developing chemical weapons to use against Russia was first put out on a far-right American website, many of which look with great respect to Putin. At the current time it continues a real possibility that the way is being paved for a chemical attack by using the false claim that Ukraine was developing them as an excuse for using them himself. Such deceptions fuel Putin’s vision and present the great danger of him continually upping the stakes.

Not forgetting the multitudes of young people who are leaving Russia now

Long before he invaded Ukraine, Putin effectively invaded and took over Russia itself. He has two military divisions dedicated to stamping out any signs of internal opposition. So much so that five million Russians have reportedly left the country under Putin’s rule.

Very sadly, many Russians are being treated very badly now in Britain. In other words, Putin is effectively succeeding in creating the anti-Russian feeling that he has accused the West of, though they have nothing to do with the war. This is really ugly.

Even on Russian state television admissions have been heard that their armed forces are experiencing great difficulties in their campaign. You are sure to have seen this clip of a woman who works for state television parading a banner behind the live news, calling for the war to stop. She had pre-recorded a video beforehand, apologising for zombifying the nation by broadcasting untruths. She has been fined so far, but this may well be followed by a full-scale criminal charge at this time when Putin is denouncing ‘traitors’ so furiously. I also saw a senior editor of Russia Today, who had resigned for the same reason.

Some fear that Putin might even impose martial law on the nation. Russian prisons are highly unreformed so let’s pray too for the many thousands who have been arrested at this time when Russia is sheering away from contact with the rest of the world.

There are plans afoot now for Russia to disconnect from the global worldwide web and to set up its own, along the lines of the Great Firewall of China. This would make it much easier for the state to control reporting and business interests from within the sphere of its own ‘alternate reality’.

Pray too for many of the brightest and the best Russians who are deserting the country.

Russia faces brain drain as thousands flee abroad – BBC News

Many are leaving for Finland – which, along with Sweden, Putin has threatened to invade if it joins NATO. If history is anything to go by, the deluded leader of Russia would find that an extremely tough proposition for his Baltic army to take on.

State of the Cyber War

As surely as Russian hackers have sought to sow disinformation in the West, many hackers in Ukraine are doing all they can to ‘beam’ a truer perspectives onto people’s computers and tablets back to Russia. In other words, with Russian government websites likewise being disrupted, Russia is by no means having things all its own way in the cyber sphere.

Russia’s cyberwarfare remains limited, while Ukraine is crowdsourcing its own · Global Voices

Experts are divided on why Russia’s cyber offensive against Ukraine has been limited so far – CNN

Father, there is much about the Internet that is profoundly disturbing and even satanic, but thank You for all the ways in which it can and is being used for good and proper purposes. We pray that You will be Lord of cyber activity.

We continue to ask You to protect business, and data, and people’s freedom to access computers and the Internet. We pray against lasting damage to the infrastructure of nations, and to the fibre optic cables that power the Internet. We recognise that this war is likely only to ramp these challenges up. Keep those engaged on the front lines protecting us form viruses always a step ahead we pray – or be able to catch up quickly if and when they are taken by surprise.

The Chinese Factor

China itself neither approved nor condemned the invasion. At heart, though, President Xi nurses fundamentally the same ambitions that Putin does to dominate the West, but he’s currently taking a more measured approach rather than Putin’s bombastic one. American intelligence warned that Putin would approach China for both economic and military aid – and also warned that China would deny that it had been thus approached.

But China has also has relations with Ukraine, and recently sent over half a million pound’s worth of humanitarian aid. Like Turkey, China is walking a delicate tightrope between the two nations – but although the link with Moscow is the stronger, its envoy to America said that if it had known about the planned invasion beforehand, it would have sought to deter it.

Words are cheap and easy – but in truth China is amongst the many countries in the world that benefit from Ukraine being the ‘bread basket’ of the world, and it would presumably not want to see the nation reduced to a scorched wasteland, as it might appear to be in danger of becoming.

China makes a great deal of noise about not expecting countries to invade other sovereign states – although it appears to apply somewhat different standards to its own actions. Let’s be under no illusions: both these countries want to be superpowers, and there is rivalry as well as friendship between them.

China too will likewise have been taken by surprise just as Russia was by the extent and the resolve of the West to impose sweeping sanctions – sanctions that China would not welcome having levelled against it.

With regard to Beijing’s often stated willingness to invade Taiwan to bring it under their control, such plans are by no means entirely straightforward. Whereas Russia has a 1200-mile land boundary, China is separated from Taiwan by a hundred miles of turbulent water. There are also very few suitable landing places for an invasion force in Taiwan making the operation far from straightforward.

In all probability, it might well be a still tougher proposition for Xi than Putin is facing in Ukraine. Putin’s lack of predictability must be disturbing, too, for Xi. They were so clearly setting up a new world order on the eve of the winter Olympics; but things may well now have become rather more strained.

Father, we pray that you will completely overrule relationships between Russia and China – and how America handles China. Let them not develop as a unified anti-Christian force that poses immense dangers to the rest of the world we pray.

The ‘miracle of Vistula’ that saved Warsaw in 1920 – and with it much of Europe.

As Kyiv, along with Odesa, prepare for a widely anticipated onslaught, I would like to take you back to something very remarkable and enormously significant that happened just over a hundred years ago – something which the politician and diplomat Edgar Vincent regards as one of the most important battles in the whole of recorded history: a decisive Polish victory over vastly superior invading Soviet forces, which dramatically – and mercifully – delayed the spread of communism into the heart of Europe for more than two decades.

Whilst all of us know at least something of the calamitous bloodshed of the First World War, fewer of us are familiar with the story of how the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia – and fewer still realise just how close the Red Army came to seizing control of central Europe in 1920, when, urged on by Lenin’s fanatical desire to export revolution throughout Europe at the tip of his soldier’s bayonets, and convinced that the quickest way to gain control of Europe was to seize Warsaw, they invaded Poland.

It was in every sense a David and Goliath battle, and one that has been unduly overlooked by historians today. It led to the badly battered Red Army making its way back home very much with its tail between its legs.

This Wikipedia article recounts the facts of the battle in detail.

But many place a spiritual interpretation on what happened in this battle, which is extremely interesting.

Many, however, believe that spiritual forces were the direct cause of what happened in this battle of the River Vistula, alone accounting for how three and a half Polish infantry divisions managed to defeat eleven Russian ones, plus two cavalry divisions. Spiritual accounts abound of how this came about – but it is only fair to warn that whilst these will appeal (and make a great deal of sense) to Catholic readers, they may prove harder to swallow for evangelicals as well as for atheists. Why? Because they focus out and out on a Marian apparition.

It is not in the least my intention here to provoke theological debate or speculation – the victory over the Soviet forces is a simple matter of recorded history, whatever its specific causes, but since so many fervent prayers were put up for Poland then, as they are for Ukraine now, it is important to remind ourselves, in Tennyson’s words, that

‘More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice

Rise like a fountain . . . night and day.’

How God chooses to answer is entirely up to Him.

So whether or not your theological outlook extends to welcome or to question such testimonies, I thought you might be interested in seeing these spiritual accounts that I myself knew nothing about until recently.

At the very least we can be immensely grateful that the Lord defeated a very real threat, and permitted a period of peace for Poland from 1920 until 1939, when Communist armies and doctrine did indeed gain the ascendancy for a prolonged period at the end of the Second World War.

blessed-virgin-mary-the-first-miracle-on-polands-vistula-river/

miracle-on-the-vistula-the-1920-war-between-russia-and-poland

miracle-of-vistula

The most pressing matter, of course, is whether God will do a miracle of similar magnitude to protect Kyiv as He did in Warsaw in 1920 – and with it save Western Europe from a man who is wreaking havoc and threatening more. We are already praying that something will happen to make him retreat from his stated aim to regroup the nations of the former USSR by setting up ‘puppet’ rulers in all the towns.

Lenin’s Legacy

Ukraine was the very first place where Lenin began his worldwide revolution when, less than three years after the revolution into Ukraine and Poland, the Red Army came in on May 20th 1920,with a plan to conquer central and eastern Europe. Poland was outnumbered ten to one. Only a miracle could save Poland at that time. All Great Britain for its part did was to send a telegram telling them to surrender. Instead, Poland turned to prayer. The entire nation led by the bishops did so.

Against all the odds a ragtag army backed by the prayers of the whole country held out. Shells were coming in, but prayer was going up. And the Red Army withdrew to the Vistula River, where they were defeated. Even Lenin admitted that his army had suffered a huge defeat that he could not understand.

As a result, Lenin backed away from his plan for worldwide domination. Because Poland stood up and fought the Bolsheviks, the whole of Europe was saved from communism – at least until Stalin seized eastern European countries at the end of the Second World War.

What happened later, in the break up down of the Soviet Union had much of the miraculous about it too. And Ukraine regained its independence in 1991. There have been prophetic warnings, however, that if there is not a return to faith in Russia there will be an utterly ruinous world war.

Stalin oppressed and persecuted Ukrainians terribly, causing many priests to be arrested and killed. But while Putin is in favour of the Orthodox Church that is under the control of the Russian government, he has never been supportive of the Ukrainian church that looks to Rome. Patriarch Krill himself was more than an informer in Soviet days: he was an active agent in the KGB. Like Vladimir Putin himself, Krill has never apologised for this, or renounced the connection.

No surprise, then, to find the Moscow church is in favour of Putin’s initiative in Ukraine – not least in its desire to ‘overcome’ the recently thriving Ukraine Catholic Church.

The tussle for truth: Praying for the Russian Orthodox Church to take its stand for Christ rather than for Putin

In the light of what we have shared above, it is no surprise to find the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church condemning economic sanctions, Russophobia and what he calls the western strategy to ‘weaken Russia’. We will go on to show that the Orthodox Church has been taken over by something that we saw developing during Soviet days, but which we can now only call a cult, and which poses very real dangers to the soul of the nation, as well as misleading individuals.

Do you remember the tense conclusion to the (entirely fictitious) film Force 10 from Navarone in which Mallory and Barnsby place explosive charges within the dam? For some agonising moments nothing appears to happen, but the structural integrity of the dam had been weakened by the blast to the point where the retaining wall eventually bursts, releasing millions of tonnes of water that pour out in an all-engulfing wave that destroys a vital bridge and so forestalls a major German advance.

That is the image I have in mind as I read this letter the Baptist minister Dr Keith Clements sent to Patriarch Kirill – whose own personal history is that of a KGB agent. May the unmistakable clarity, truth and compassion in this letter pierce the heart, conscience and spirit of Patriarch Kirill and challenge deeply seated strongholds that the father of lies, the enemy of truth, has secured over many years within the senior echelons and the whole structure of the Orthodox Church.

It is important to pray for this initiative, and to understand more of how Putin has forged an alliance with the Orthodox Church for his own purposes.

Keith Clements of the Baptist Union sent a letter to Patriarch Kirill, calling him to acknowledge that the aggressive and violent atrocities meted out on Ukraine by Putin are not only fundamentally morally wrong, but are wrong in regards to the ‘Christian spirit or conscience’ – and urging him to change direction.

He is uniquely placed to bring this letter; we can be sure that the entrenched patriarch will not warm to it. It would be easy to dismiss the letter as naïve – but how much better to use what you know to be true, and to declare truth to corruption. The word must be shared.

We ask for revelation of Your truth and for great courage for Patriarch Kirill – that he would stand with the all-Russian Orthodox in allegiance to You Lord above and beyond his patriotism or loyalty to Russian leadership. That he would hear You Lord and speak out and act on your leading for the great hope of liberation and peace for Ukraine.

We know he has great influence with Putin and we ask that Putin would hear him and respond in humility.

It is so important, though, that we continue to bless and forgive both the people of Russia and the church there, for it to gain the true heart and insight of the Lord, and for the Lord’s people to stand for Truth, humility and justice – and hide themselves under the shadow of the wing of the Almighty, rather than under Putin’s wing. That they will align themselves with the Kingdom of God and not the kingdom of Putin, and that this be reflected in their preaching. That as they put on his robes, he might be reminded of what they signify, that he stands primarily as a servant of the King of Kings and not a servant of Putin.

May Your words of truth cut like a sword through the lies that cloud and pervert both Patriarch Kirill’s and President Putin’s thinking; that they would hear and listen to Your truth Lord and act rightly on it.

We ask that today the dam of lies surrounding Putin and his leadership group would be pierced and its walls, like the walls of Jericho, yield. We pray that great liberation for the Russian people and also for Ukraine would consequently flow like a mighty river.

And that the liberation of Your truth from the top in the Orthodox Church might bring rivers of revival right down to its roots and throughout the churches across Europe and beyond.
Lord, we pray for Your Church, Your body, and declare that now is the time to rise up in spirit and truth in You and stand.

May the dam burst!

Use it like a shaft of truth Lord that brings Your power to bear to reverse the years of compromise, in which the Orthodox Church sided, again and again, with the dictates of the Soviet state, just as it is doing again now with President Putin.

Let a spirit of repentance come upon the Russian people from the top down, and from the bottom up, that together combine to throw off the yoke that alien spirits have imposed on both church and nation alike, and that hold it back from fulfilling its true and glorious ministry amongst the nations.

Let the primary place in this church be accorded not to Russian patriotism and propaganda, and not to military might but rather to the Lordship of Christ Jesus.

I have been particularly concerned here, therefore, to share the spiritual implications of what it is that Putin is seeking to establish. He has quite deliberately set out to cultivate and promote a narrative that commemorates the prowess of the Red Army who defeated Nazism at the enormous cost of millions of Russian lives, skilfully welding this into the framework of two most powerful organs: the national army (which one would expect to be state controlled) and the Orthodox Church – with all the risk of politicising a fundamentally spiritual organisation (and this to the detriment and discomfiture of the evangelical church).

In his desire to be seen as ‘defender of the faith’ in the face of both terrorist threats and western secularism, a huge new cathedral has recently been built on the outskirts of Moscow.

Original plans to include mosaics of both Putin and Stalin were dropped after public outcry, but some might argue that this centrepiece of Putin’s strategy is as much designed to glorify the Russian army as to exalt Jesus Christ. See this article. We think you will also find this article interesting, informative and a prompt to pray.

Whilst most in the West regard Vladimir Putin as a cold-blooded and dangerous illiberal, large swathes of far-right Christian groups around the world, particularly in America, have come to look on him in a very different light: as nothing less than the protector and defender of traditional Christianity and Christian values.

Taken from – and see here for more on this subject.

Public Orthodoxy is a blog representing the Orthodox Christian Studies Centre of Fordham University. It has released a most helpful and hopefully influential statement on behalf of the worldwide Orthodox Church. This is lengthy, but well worth reading in full because, just as state television has been broadcasting false propaganda to the nation, so the Church too under Patriarch Kirill has also been bringing an entirely false perspective to the Russian people. Should one not consider this alliance between the Orthodox Church and Putin as a cult.

It is important to understand here that Vladimir Putin is following in the footsteps of the tsars by making himself the head of the Orthodox Church. To have someone who is not only a former member of the KGB, and who has manifestly never renounced that connection, as both Head of State and Head of the Church is a recipe for someone putting his own interests ahead of those of Christ Jesus, (cf Phil. 2:21)

Very many around the world believe Putin to be a foremost defender of the Church. What they have not understood is that he supports the Moscow-based Orthodox Church. He is not in the least supportive of the very flourishing church in Ukraine that looks to Rome.

I remember watching him on Russian television some years ago apologising for the persecution the Church experienced during the Soviet years. It felt like an apology rather than deep repentance – and it never reached his eyes. One feared a manoeuvre to bring the Orthodox Church and State in line in order to ‘control’ the country.

Praying for the Railways

Praise, praise the Lord that the railways have largely managed to keep going in Ukraine along the nation’s huge railway network. They have played an absolutely essential role in taking people out and supplies in. But they are being hit by bombs and shells every day. Railway workers have been killed. Tracks have needed to be repaired constantly, and routes rescheduled across Ukraine’s extensive rail network – but nothing can be done about bridges that are destroyed.

Lord, please keep these vital transport links as intact for as long as they need to be.

The startlingly strong impact of Sanctions on Russia already – and how the West is planning to replace its dependency on Russian energy

Strong sanctions are already beginning to hit ordinary citizens hard. With Visa and MasterCard no longer accessible, the matter of withdrawing funds has become a pressing matter for many, with every indication that things will continue to get worse the longer the conflict continues.

The swift and dramatic loss of foreign investment and consumer outlets, combined with extreme pressure and persuasion being put on the nation from its leadership, is taking the country right back to the repressive days of the Iron Curtain. Food prices are rising daily and causing great distress. And now the nation is on the brink of defaulting on its debts for the first time. – something that would have been unthinkable one long month ago.

The following is an in-depth look at just how hard-hitting these particular sanctions are likely to prove to be – and surely very much better coordinated and harder than he had expected.

All this will surely incline Putin to press the button to speed up and intensify operations still more. In his eagerness to secure a quick victory, (and thus try to avoid another Afghanistan, where his forces were so badly beaten) Putin is keen to throw battle-hardened fighters from Syria into the fray, luring them not only with the promise of a $3000 sweetener, but with the prospect of being rewarded with land (and presumably other people’s houses) in Eastern Ukraine.

Father, we pray that You will watch over how things develop in Russia, as these sanctions begin to bite more and more.

Only sanctions against Putin’s vast reserves of oil and gas can ‘sweep away Putin’s refuge’ (Is. 28:17) – that is: the source that regularly refills his war chest, and so enables him to fund these atrocities.

What strange bed fellows political and military ambitions combine to bring about. Meanwhile, President Biden and his team are making strong approaches to countries that had been previously been heavily sanctioned, such as Venezuela, to procure badly needed oil supplies for the free world. Who would be a politician, having to face such morally and ethically challenging issues? We can certainly pray, though, that not only are old wells opened up again, but that the Lord will use the reduction of oil and gas that will be bought in from Russia to kickstart efforts across the whole world to invest in renewable energies rather than merely resorting to more fossil fuels.

And how the West is planning to replace Russian energy. . .

Incontrovertibly, and uncontroversially, America will have to increase its supplies of oil and gas. This will actually be better for the environment than the methane-contaminated supplies from Russia.

As in previous energy crises, we can be sure that the despot who leads Saudi Arabia will have been approached to ask him to increase supplies. (This is delicate diplomacy, as neither Saudi nor the UAE have condemned Putin’s invasion. And morally?) Overtures are under way too by America to consider lifting sanctions off Venezuela and Iran in order to bring their large oil reserves back into play.

Lord, in all these complex initiatives and considerations, be Lord and be leading we pray.

Photo by Ilya Ryabov on Unsplash

Economic Implications for the World

This word from Ezekiel 4:16 that has been with me the past week:

“Son of man, I am about to cut off the food supply in Jerusalem. The people will eat rationed food in anxiety and drink rationed water in despair.”

The consequences already extend far beyond Ukraine itself, and look certain to cause massive ‘food insecurity’ right across the world.

Egypt depends on the “breadbasket of the world” for a truly staggering 80% of its wheat. A massive percentage of Lebanon’s wheat comes from there too. These are economies that were already barely coping, if at all, before the present sharp spikes in the price of wheat, and that will tip millions into famine – especially as other major wheat-growing areas have been hard hit by unparalleled drought.

80% of the world’s sunflower oil also comes from Ukraine – as does the 50% of the world’s supply of neon gas. This is a vital component in the manufacture of LED screens and semiconductor chips. Already car making firms are having to shut down temporarily in the UK as well as in Russia for lack of it.

Russia has suspended exports of fertilisers for which it currently has the lion’s share of the market. This too will have a marked effect on global food production – which is terrible news for many nations, particularly in Africa, but also in the Middle East and Asia.

In theory it could also be a galvanising effort to attempt natural forms of farming, rather as the reduction of energy from Russia could be a catalyst to invest more in renewable energies. See these notes by Jane Hewson, whose husband, Alan, is the Deputy Mayor of Melton Mowbray.

‘It concerns me greatly that our reliance on artificial fertiliser since the second World War is leading to killing off much soil life & generally leading with other sprays to the deserts we continually see where once were bread baskets. The science is out there now (unlike when all soil scientists were employed by chemical companies in our previous times.)

Sadly vegetarian & particularly vegan propaganda fuels this. There is no substitute that I am aware of that replaces mob grazed mixed farming to recreate fertile soils.

This is NOT a return to farming in the way our grandfathers farmed. It’s hard work but so rewarding.

The dilemma this now leaves us personally is our land is fertile & would grow wheat for bread, but we don’t have the equipment we need to make the change.’

The Kindness of Strangers: Pray for match ups between hosts and refugees

After an embarrassingly slow start in offering visas to Ukrainian refugees, the UK has taken off the handbrake with the promise of unlimited sanctuary for refugees – for three years. Ros has a particular burden to pray that, when the dust finally settles, Ukrainian people will not bear lifelong resentment against the West for being slow to come to their aid in their hour of need. May the wonderful welcome they have received elsewhere and the efforts being made on Ukraine’s behalf be the thing that comes most to mind.

There are going to be many massive challenges ahead for a people so deeply traumatised – not to mention the overdemands on medical and psychiatric resources, and schools. It is all the more important to pray for the right match ups as people apply to give hospitality – and for local councils to be able to cope.

This link may well be of interest for anyone interested in welcoming Ukrainians into their homes. Sanctuary Foundation is an established Christian organisation. The video shows it to be a great initiative, that churches and homegroups will appreciate exploring together.

May the Lord bring about many things for His glory through this short or long-term diaspora.

Many of you will no doubt be considering welcoming Ukrainian people into your homes.

May the Lord do many precious and important ‘match ups,’ as people ponder giving hospitality. Pray too for the social environment that they will be coming into.

What we have done in the past as a nation with refugees from Syria and Afghanistan has been far from perfect – and the pressure on councils, schools, hospitals, the NHS and social workers is likely to end up being still more intense this time.

Following the lead that Christianity Today is taking on this theme, let’s pray for Christians who have been displaced by the war to find fellowship and not get disconnected from fellow believers. And especially for the many who are suffering post-traumatic stress, especially young people, and for these leaders themselves in their ongoing ministry in such challenging circumstances.

One minute of united prayer at 8pm

There are many prayer initiatives for Ukraine at the moment. We have been suggesting that we try to gather in spirit to pray specifically for one minute every day at 8pm – with a ‘reserve’ minute at 8am, if we either forgot the night before or were unable to do it for some other reason. There is no need to limit this time of prayer of course to just the one minute!

Besiege, terrorise and destroy

I am reminded of Grozny in Chechnya. The very name means “fearsome” or “menacing”, and at the end of the Second Chechen War in 2000 it was the most bombed out city in the world. Amongst many such atrocities, Russian forces fired five ballistic missiles at the crowded central bazaar, and at a maternity ward – rather as they have been holding patients as hostages in a hospital in Ukraine, and then firing out from there.

The final seizure of Grozny city occurred when the besieged militants were lured out of the city by the promise of a safe passage. But the Russians had mined the path and concentrated extensive firepower on them as they came out. May it not happen again. The Russians then entered the abandoned city, raised the Russian flag in the centre, and then began systematically dynamiting not only individual buildings but even whole areas of the city. Pray for the people in Kherson, and other intensely besieged cities in the south of Ukraine, including Mariupol which has neither power nor water, and Odesa, which is nervously awaiting the arrival of Russian forces at the time of writing.

All of this highlights a claim that the Metro has publicised this week that the head of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency has claimed on his organisation’s website that Russia no longer sees its ‘war’ with the West as being part of the old Cold War at all, but that this is now a ‘hot’ War.

More than ever, it is essential that we pray for the Lord to ride forth victoriously in His majesty in the cause of truth, humility and justice; and for His right hand to achieve awesome things. (Ps. 45:4)

This is not an exact parallel, but I am reminded of these verses from Daniel 11: ‘For the king of the North will muster another army, larger than the first; and after several years, he will advance with a huge army fully equipped . . .Then the king of the North will come and build up siege ramps and will capture a fortified city. The forces of the South will be powerless to resist; even their best troops will not have the strength to stand. The invader will do as he pleases; no one will be able to stand against him.

Many of you will be well aware of how this verses continues and will no doubt pray accordingly; into this horrendous scenario ‘He will establish himself in the Beautiful Land and will have the power to destroy it.’ (Dan. 11:13-16)

By definition, we must be closer now to the days of Zechariah 12 and 14 than ever before.

May the Lord have mercy on all nations at short- or medium-term risk – and galvanise every aspect of the West’s response.

What reversals we are witnessing!

From a few generations back who would have thought that we would be rejoicing to see Germany rearming to the staggering extent of channelling 100,000,000,000 euros this year into modernising its seriously inadequate defence forces. (The profits the armaments firms will make from all this, as from every war, is another matter . . . )

And then the sadness at seeing Holocaust victims being comforted, but also needing rescuing again in Ukraine. In amongst the great sadness is this remarkable story of kindness being returned eight decades later: an Israeli woman rescuing the Grandchildren of the Woman who Saved her Family in the Holocaust.

The inspiring sight of a Romanian pastor welcoming people heartily into his country. It seems no time since we were praying our socks off for Romania, where the church there was being cruelly persecuted by the Soviet system – and now here is Romania is offering help on a grand scale to others.

Poland, which has been exercising such a hard line against migrants, now generously welcoming truly vast numbers of Ukrainians.

And Israel, which many of us normally associate with being at great risk from Russia, playing its part in the diplomatic efforts to come up with a suitable compromise to this crisis. (Israel is friendly with both Ukraine and Russia, and has refrained from condemning the invasion)

I have been reading the independent Moscow Times. But independent reporters from inside Russia, as you will have heard, can no longer broadcast truth. In ongoing diplomatic talks Ukraine has agreed never to join NATO, but the sides remain a long way apart as of 16th March 2022. Much may depend on Putin’s mood.

At his direction the clouds swirl around
over the face of the whole earth
to do whatever he commands them.(Job 37:12)

But we should not underestimate the strategies the prince of this world sets in motion either. See this link to a short prayer for the Lord to turn situations round. There may be many times when things feel stalled and threatening in our lives.

Sooner or later, all conflicts must come to an end, but we must pray prayers of repentance as well as of authority for the Lord’s mercy to bring this about safely before it escalates into something very much wider and hence still worse.

Beyond the border, further dangers lie in wait for those escaping Ukraine

It would be comforting to think that all who made it to the border are now safe – like counters on a Ludo board that have reached ‘Home.’ But we know it is nothing like as simple as that. One of Ros’s strongest burdens has been against vulnerable fleeing girls and women being exploited and trafficked. It is only too real a threat.

Father, we pray for the hundreds of thousands who are still embarking on a perilous journey of escape, and for the still more who have already reached a new country, and find themselves embarked on an adventure that they neither sought nor desired.
We ask you to be with each one of them, especially those who are calling out to You, and to protect many from the perils of gangs of abductors and abusers.

Human trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation, forced begging, involuntary servitude and forced labour has long been a huge problem in Ukraine, but this article in the Daily Mail highlights the reality of these new dangers of sex traffickers attempting to seize vulnerable girls and women who are already exhausted from their long and difficult journeys away, offering them the promise of safe accommodation and free transport. The Daily Mail describes them as ‘posing as good Samaritans to lure them away from the safety of official checkpoints.’ Pray for many to be kept out of their clutches.

It is impossible for a proper watch to be kept over so many hundreds of thousands, but some sex traffickers have been arrested – and Poland has increased penal terms for those found guilty of doing so. Pray for more to be exposed and caught.

The dangers of radiation

Apart from the risks inherent in the nuclear power plants, with someone as deliberately unpredictable as Putin, the whole nuclear issue is a very serious one. It is official Russian military policy that nuclear weapons can be used to “de-escalate” situations in which their conventional forces are not winning. If ever there was a dangerous euphemism!

When Russia failed to secure victory by conventional means in Chechnya, it resorted to ghastly levels of carpet bombing. The scale of the destruction now is heart breaking. May they run out of weapons swiftly – and may the Lord have mercy on this land that is increasingly being turned into a wasteland.

Russia still has the potential to resort to chemical as well as advanced conventional weapons.

Lord, have mercy on people who own Your name. May they take their faith and the love of God with them wherever they go, and wherever You cause them to end up. Let each one know whether to go or stay. Minister so deeply, clearly and tenderly in this huge vale of grief and loss.

It is important to remember the beleaguered staff at the Zaporizhian and Chernobyl nuclear plants. These people are working under intense stress, with a very great risk of their concentration dropping to dangerous levels. Food is also thought to be in short supply.

The whole situation is fraught with danger, especially now that Internet and mobile phone connections with the outside world have been cut off.

Butler to the World: How Britain Became the Servant of Oligarchs, Tax Dodgers, Kleptocrats and Criminals

Ukrainians have been celebrating the elimination of two top Russian generals. It is certainly important to pray that advancing forces become bogged down and fail to reconfigure in such a way as to be able to fulfil their full potential, but it is a very different type of factor that is on my heart this morning.

By a whisker Adolph Hitler failed to advance his tanks into Moscow. As the great retreat began, so-called “General Winter” came to the aid of the Russians inflicting immense suffering on the ill-clad German forces.

Conditions must be grim for the Russian forces now, as well as for the besieged Ukrainians, especially those who are have run out of fuel in the northern column. I am still praying for what will happen when the thaw comes.

I keep hearing people say that that spring begins on March 20th – but let’s pray for the Lord to overrule that date. Yes, Lord, overrule in this vital matter we pray – and for what happens when the cloying mud becomes a major factor.

“General Mud Has Usually Been on Russia’s Side in War. But not This Time” The imminent thaw is another aspect in the whole situation for an invading army that simply wasn’t prepared for a long-term campaign.

Many of us will have been feeling great concern for the Ukrainian people (and indeed for Russian troops) in the sub-zero temperatures. At the time of writing the world is deeply grieved for the citizens of Mariupol,where the city is being put to a slow and agonising martyrdom, and where the stench of dead bodies left on the streets pervades everything.

As Russian casualties mount, Putin fears more and more that the news of these casualties – and of the civilian damage too – cannot fail to become better known in his own country, despite the extreme measures he has taken to try to stop this from occurring.

Putin also knows that there are only a relatively few days left before the thaw is due. Will the cloying mud that this releases make life incomparably harder for Putin’s attacking forces?

Putin’s expectation was of blitzkrieg success, but now with all 190,000 of his surrounding forces in Ukraine – it is plain that Russia is simply not geared up to resupply such a colossal army in the long-term.

Father, we are vividly aware that the Russian army has a long and terrible history of looting and raping wherever they conquer. We ask that You continue to restrain Putin, even as the enemy tries to goad him into ever more intense measures such as carpet-bombing whole towns.

Sins of Racism surfacing in Ukraine

The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God. (Lev. 19:34 NIV)

There are so many aspects to this crisis.

We have made no secret of the fact that Ukraine is a country long renowned for suffering from corruption. The nation has not been taken over by Nazis, as Putin falsely claims, but, as in Russia, there are really nasty Nazi elements.

This is a relevant article published in the Mail warning us of the rising tide of somewhat arrogant nationalism in Ukraine back in 2010 that did so much to alienate and antagonise Putin.

CF The Truth about Neo-Nazism in Ukraine

Corruption reached extreme depths under President Viktor Yanukovych who was forcibly deposed by the Ukrainian revolts.

It would be quite wrong to assume that all corruption miraculously disappeared overnight from Ukrainian society. In other words, this whole crisis is far more than just a battle between ‘saints and sinners’.

One aspect of this it is important to face is the deeply entrenched racism that lies as an ugly blot on the nation of Ukraine that has manifested in many ways during this crisis.

Only too many people of colour have been refused entry onto buses and trains, or their request for asylum being delayed or being badly treated at the border. This is but one report along these lines; it does not make for pleasant reading.

Do make time to play and replay this short but truly exquisite Kyrie in the Ukrainian choral tradition.

The Occult at work in Putin’s Russia

Several weeks ago a friend had a word about the people Putin appoints being as a ventriloquist’s dummies. But the information shared in this post takes things to a whole new level, involving as it does directly occult forces.

This calls to mind the deeply unpleasant occult practices that undergirded the rise and rule of so much that pertained to the Nazi regime.

The first city that Russian troops captured was the highly significant one of Kherson, which as this article shows does real damage to Ukraine’s economy. Having captured the mayor, and set up their own puppet one, they would love to make it out to be region that had chosen to align itself with Russia. This article tells the true story.

Father, You call us to respect the authorities, but You do not want those same authorities to lord it over all, as the Caesars attempted to do. Lord, as we see the ‘puppet-like’ faces and hear the lies being applauded with synchronised clockwork applause in the council chambers of North Korea, China and indeed in the Russian Duma – we say let the time come in your own time and way when You reclaim the power and rightful place from those who rule the nations with an iron rod. Stir up critical thinking processes in truly helpful ways we pray at this time in Russia. Put a strong calling on those who You would have say and do certain things at this time.

Once again, we are reminded that our warfare is not against flesh and blood but against the dark powers and rulers of this world – whose presence one has so often discerned in the council room where Putin sits to meet foreign leaders. The witches curse as witches do, but the Lord sends forth His word and scatters all darkness.

We lift up Your name Lord Jesus, high above all these powers and spirits and declare that Your Word and Your ways will triumph.

Be Lord of so many scenarios that are being played out at this time, out of sight in the depths of people’s hearts as they weigh the words of their leaders and find them wanting, we pray.

After this brush with darkness, let’s keep the flow of worship flowing in our hearts, folks, by using this clip of Ukrainian students singing ‘Mighty to save’ in the dark.

In the midst of darkness music gives inspiration

Ros and I were touched to watch a pianist taking his piano all the way to the Polish border to play for people as they entered a safe haven – and then going on to take his piano right into Ukraine. Bless you, once again, Lord Jesus, for the power of music!

Many of you will also have seen this clip of skilled violinists playing in a basements in Ukraine. The second clip explains how it came about that he is joined in his playing by musicians from all around the world.

Final Reflections

The Lord Himself feels the grief and loss of every single person afflicted and affected. Do bear in mind and make good use of the resources in this edition – For those who seek His face, the various Kyries, Andy Flanaghan’s song along with many others.

In Jeremiah 48:36 the Lord says, of a country not in the least favourable to His own nation, ‘My heart mourns for Moab, and for the people of Kir Heres, like someone playing a funeral song on a flute, because everything they owned is gone.’

He sees, He notices, He cares. There is very great detail concerning the destruction of those unable to escape from besieged towns, see for example in vs 43-45 concerning the plight of the helpless refugees.

The precious thing is that, at the very end in verse 47, the Lord speaks of restoring the fortunes of Moab. May there be restoration beyond the barbaric damage.

One friend reported how, during lockdown, she connected with a whole community of old school friends and friends of friends, most of whom don’t profess faith of any kind, and today they have been expressing a desire to gather on Zoom to pray for Ukraine.

Astonishingly she wrote, “This wasn’t my idea, it was theirs. They don’t even know what a prayer meeting is but they want to have one because this situation calls to the spiritual in them and they want to know how to connect with that. This situation is terrible, and at the same time God is using it to burst a seed ball of transformation in our nations. To God be the glory!”

Banner Image of Globe Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash