My wife and I were trying to enjoy our dinner of shrimp (a special Costco treat), fresh locally grown corn on the cob, and our favorite coleslaw from a nearby barbecue restaurant as we watched the evening news this past Monday. But the broadcast was full of wrenching images and distressed commentary about the current chaotic situation in Afghanistan. Not one interview hinted at any hope for the future there.
And I repeated the question I had posed to my wife just a couple of days earlier: “How do we cope with the fact that we have been born here, in privilege and comfort, instead of into one of those panic-stricken families desperate for any way to escape the terror of this time?”
Impossible to Ignore
Frankly, with all the chaos and confusion in so many corners (Haiti, wildfires in the West, Covid running rampant), I’d prefer to blot it all out of my mind, especially Afghanistan. It’s easier to busy myself with the duties of the day—weeds to pull, coffee to brew, bills to pay, laundry to finish—than to sit with grief over the pain of so many in our world this very minute.
But Christians are not ignoring this disaster in Afghanistan. Although the situation may leave us feeling helpless (there’s not even a place to send a check so we can believe we’ve done our part), one possibility remains. We can pray.
Joni Eareckson Tada posted on her Facebook page this past Tuesday: “The church in Afghanistan is the second fastest growing church worldwide—and now, our brothers and sisters in Christ are facing vicious retaliation from the Taliban. Please join me in praying that God will strengthen them, pouring out courage, and mercy, and comfort . . . and that the Afghanistan church will be bold in witnessing to panicking neighbors and friends.”
Open Doors, whose ministry focuses on “strengthening Christians, wherever they are threatened for their faith in Jesus,” echoed a similar plea, urging supporters to “pray for the small group of Christian believers in Afghanistan.”
Crosswalk.com, an online Christian living magazine, added that Christian missionaries remain in the country, trying to help those they’ve served as they anticipate difficult days ahead.
Both Open Doors and Crosswalk suggested a list of prayer prompts for those willing to lift Afghanistan to the Lord. Here they are, in abbreviated form. Follow the links to see the whole posts and decide which concern most motivates you to pray.
The prayer prompts include these:
- Pray for the small group of believers in the country. “They . . . are uncertain who to trust.”
- Pray for the displaced. “A new wave of refugees is expected to come . . . to many parts of the Middle East and the rest of the world.”
- Pray for the women, that not all “opportunities for education” will be removed and “for their protection.”
- Pray that the country will not be a haven for extremists. “. . . the country could be host to a new generation of terror groups.”
We are urged to:
- Pray for the people of Afghanistan. “Give those who believe in [God] the courage to stand strong in their faith and be a strong witness for [him].”
- Pray for the troops and their loved ones. “Nearly every person knows someone or has a loved one in the military, and so many are fearful for their loved ones being deployed at this moment.”
- Pray for the leaders. “. . . guide them to choose what is best for the troops helping, as well as the citizens looking for help.”
- Pray for missionaries and those from other countries. “We pray that [God] would not only protect them but . . . would do amazing things through them in the midst of this.”
- Pray for the Taliban. “Lord, even when it doesn’t make sense to our earthly selves, you call us to pray for those who persecute (Matthew 5:44).”
One a Day
If all this seems overwhelming, try taking one item at a time. You could read the whole list at the dinner table or in your personal prayer time before choosing just one of these ideas for that day’s prayers.
As you pray, cling to two Scripture promises:
“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9, NIV).
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16, NIV).
It’s safe to say that not everyone speaking into the problem of Afghanistan would claim or aspire to being “a righteous person.” We who pursue that label can do what they will not.
We can pray.
Longtime Christ’s Church member Mark A. Taylor writes most Saturdays at https://deancollins.co/saturday-posts. Mark served as an editor and publisher at Standard Publishing for more than 40 years.