When we feel helpless in the face of evil, our theology matters. Oftentimes evil done to us or others can actually bring out the worst in us (which is one of the strategies of evil). This is why our view of God matters. Free will is real and God by nature of love is non-coercive. God responds to us in moments like these.
I’m reminded of the quote Stephen Colbert recently rattled off from memory: â€œWe must not be frightened nor cajoled into accepting evil as deliverance from evil. We must go on struggling to be human, though monsters of abstraction police and threaten us” (Robert Hayden).
These are moments to commit to praying by asking and inviting God to intervene. You may not know how to pray or what to pray for as you watch the news unfolding. Here are a few ideas.
First, pray that evil would collapse upon itself. As followers of Jesus, we are not called to fight evil with evil. We have a better hope than that. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once explained, “Evil carries the seed of its own destruction. In the long run right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.” We can pray that God would hasten the inherent reality of evil and its limits.
We see this theme throughout the Psalms. Here are a few examples:
- â€œThe wicked conceive evil; they are pregnant with trouble and give birth to lies. They dig a deep pit to trap others, then fall into it themselves. The trouble they make for others backfires on them. The violence they plan falls on their own heads.â€ 7:14-16
- â€œThe nations have fallen into the pit they dug for others. Their own feet have been caught in the trap they set. The Lord is known for his justice. The wicked are trapped by their own deeds.â€ 9:15-16
- â€œThe wicked draw their swords and string their bows to kill the poor and the oppressed, to slaughter those who do right. But their swords will stab their own hearts, and their bows will be broken.â€ 37:14-15
Second, pray for miraculous protection for all the vulnerable and displaced people. War is horrific and demonstrates disparities of power. As Christians, we can ask God to supernaturally provide protection that no tank or bomb or bullet can overcome. This power needs no resources other than God’s presence.
Third, pray for God’s presence to be known. Make no mistake, God is just as much with Ukraine as with any of us (one could actually argue God is more present with them). But when invading armies are at your door this can be hard to discern. We can pray for them to feel God’s supernatural comfort and peace that illogically exists in spite of what they are suffering.
Fourth, we can pray for wisdom for world leaders. Rather than engaging in fighting ourselves, these are the moments for Christians to “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God” (Romans 12:18-19). God is a just judge and will hold nations and people accountable in a variety of ways. We can pray for God to intervene in this way and to use other world leaders to this end.
Finally, we can pray for Putin himself and that he would have a change of heart. He is an image-bearer of Christ who is choosing acts of evil with his free will. We should desire God to transform and redeem his heart just as we would for all people. We can pray for God to humble his pride. Imagine how much of this would be different if he could have a profound encounter with Jesus.
May our prayers continue our personal struggle to be human and invite a supernatural God to bring some of Heaven to earth in a time of suffering. As Shane Claiborne has recently said, “Peacemaking is about interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, resisting oppressors without becoming oppressors, neutralizing enemies without destroying them.”Here are five ways for Christians to pray for Ukraine. Click To Tweet
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