How to Pray for Egypt and Syria

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“Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.” – Isaiah 19:25“Out of Egypt I have called my son.” – Matthew 2:15Advent is upon us. The lands of Israel, Assyria, and Egypt were the lands where Jesus was born, was a refugee, and did identify as his home. As we remember his first coming, and watch these countries come into and out of the news, let us not forget to pray for them! Below are several perspectives of needs for prayer, from a pastor with an ear to the ground in the region. With 5 working days between every advent-Sunday, consider praying through each section weekly…Egypt and Syria need your prayers as often as you can spare the time.Both countries are going through a period of political and spiritual transformation. Be part of it!

1. General Prayers for Egypt:

Pro-Morsi protests, demonstrations, and threats continue almost daily in the streets. Tensions are rising among university students. Grass-roots disorganized/random protests are even involving wives/children  of political Islamists (before, they did not feel so empowered, to take up rights be independent, or be so active and involved)— though it comes with potential for violence, it could also be a sign that the people are beginning to think on their own. Now we must pray against anger, and for clear-headedness, against retribution and revenge, and for justice and peace. We must pray for wisdom among military and police leaders, and willingness and opportunity to negotiate toward an equitable resolution which benefits the whole country, not just one party, or sect, or elite group.

On another level, terrorist cells and leaders continue to be identified and targeted by military and police. While necessary, it is becoming a technique to gain sympathies. All these are groups and individuals who sprang up after the 2011 revolution, and during the 2012-2013 period of Morsi’s leniency toward Islamic militia, and arms movements, especially in the Sinai. Their goals span between destabilizing the interim government and training fighters for extremism elsewhere. They feed the fires of conflict in other parts of the Middle East and North Africa. We must pray for military/police leaders and actions, that they will not be misperceived, that their efforts will not veer from providing public safety, and against their rights’ violations. We must also pray for judiciaries and journalists who hold people in power accountable: that they’ll use their role of influence, for justice, wisely, and not for personal fame, or simple-minded blame.

2. General Prayers for Syria:

Syrian Refugees in the region continue to suffer, struggle, and spark tensions with their new neighbors. They number 300,000 in Egypt, and over 2 million spread throughout Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan, not to mention the millions within Syria. They are forming small cities of their own, but without the right of citizens. Their resources are limited and depleting daily, and winter forces many to beg for food, or to rely on Aid Organizations and NGOs to provide for them. Supply chains are stretched tight, and with the global economic pressures, and the effect of weakening exchange rates, prices of food have dramatically gone up over the course of this 2 year conflict, and will continue to rise, frustrating the newcomers and angering many locals whose homes were transformed, crowded, by the mass-influx. The results are that in Egypt, and elsewhere, hundreds of Syrians and Palestinians, portrayed as terrorists, are being arrested and imprisoned, among them are large numbers of children! We pray for attitudes of peace-making and friendship, of creativity and cooperation, and for the governments to play a productive, not divisive role.

3. General Prayers for Egypt and Syria BOTH:

While Syria passes through a continuing state of civil war, and military bombardment, and real mounting destruction, Egypt’s self-destruction, through more “peaceful” means, is having its own terrible effect—its population is six times Syria’s with only a small area of agriculture. Egypt’s infrastructure/transport and environmental care are in long-term disrepair unable to keep up with urbanization (Cairo numbers 20 million+). Only Syria’s coast and some villages in the interior have a semblance of being able to cope. Lawlessness abounds: theft, vandalism, abductions, ransoms, abuse in the home, corruption. If there is ever to be hope of real lasting transformation, ethics and peace must win. Public education is a shamble. The governments of both countries have a massive rebuilding project ahead of them—and in this period between and before proper democratically-elected leaders and revamped systems, it’s churches/NGOs, and local, grass-roots community-organizations who will lead the way and meet people’s needs. Pray.

4. Specific Prayers for the Church in Egypt:

Church leaders are involved and continue to negotiate their role in society, building political, ecumenical and inter-religious bridges and networks of cooperation and collaboration in neighborhoods and cities. It is a new era for the gospel and God’s spirit to go forth—resources are being developed and translated, internet and satellite technologies are breaking down walls of resistance, correcting misunderstandings and lies about Christianity and the Bible. Churches are working together, talking together, so that unity and love are becoming more evident alongside of greatly increased courage in witnessing. Christians are standing up for the rights of the marginalized in society as constitutional debates continue. Although it is frustrating to have extremist Islamist parties continue to attempt to create loopholes for the entrance of Sharia, and a non-secular state, all parties are still at the table, and a referendum is still scheduled to be held in January. We pray that this positive spirit of cooperation will lead to freedoms for churches to be able to finally build and renovate, and justice to address persecution and discrimination. We pray for the Muslim Background Believing community, that their faith will stay strong, their growth in Christ will win the hearts of their friends and families, and that they will be filled with the Spirit to build God’s kingdom. Pray renewal also within the established church, for efforts at reform, and that Christ’s bride be purified.

5. Specific Prayers for the Church in Syria:

In the absence of a ceasefire, and despite their efforts to not take sides or get involved, Christians have, in some villages, been targeted by Islamists, fighters, foreign mercenaries, and extremists (they’re being held hostage, used as human shields, put under siege, and worse)—and many ancient religious artifacts, churches, historical sites, and monastic communities are being damaged, threatened, and destroyed. The church in Syria is diverse, but weakened because of its close relationship with the Assad regime, it is in great need of deep renewal, and repentance, of spiritual authenticity among the older generations, and renewed interest among the youth—the Biblical Literacy of the church is low, immigration away from Syria is understandably high, and yet the presence of Christians is critical if there is to be hope of renewal, peace, and rejuvenation. Pray for Christ’s body in Syria!

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