Over the past week, many of us have heard and seen countless social media postings and news reports about what’s happening in Ukraine. Of course, as Christians, we want to pray for all those affected by this horrible situation. But how do you pray for Ukraine and everyone involved in a Christ-like way? So whether you are praying alone, with a few folks or a bigger group. I hope these thoughts and verses will help you partner with God to pray with boldness and confidence.
What is Intercession
When we pray on behalf of others, we call this intercession. To stand in the gap between that person/situation and God.
Abraham was the first example of this in Genesis 18+19. He asked God to spare a city for the same of 50 – 10 righteous people. But the sins of the city was too great, so it was still destroyed. But the righteous people were able to get out before it happened.
Or Jesus, when He was praying for his disciples and all believers in John 17.
We need to change our mindset.
Paul reminded the Corinthians of what our prayers can do as we partner with Jesus.
“For though we live in this world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5
There is a direct relationship between what happens in the spiritual realm and the physical one. See Matthew 16:19+20 for the reference.
When we see things through God’s eyes, we can see that our prayers are effective and have an impact – they are worth praying.
We are partnering with the Holy Spirit.
Paul helps the new believers in Rome understand this concept.
“In the same way, the Spirit help us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26+27
Preparing your heart & spirit.
We are limited in our human understanding to understand all that’s going on with this whole situation. We are also biased in our views and have our own ideas about what should be done.
Yes, some of what we think and feel are correct, but we don’t know the details. So we need to surrender to God’s Lordship and Sovereignty. God knows it all and loves every person involved (on all sides).
“Submit yourself, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you…. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:7, 10
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” It is a great reminder of why we surrender our thoughts and heart emotions. Proverbs 4:23
Ask God to forgive you for:
- Any judgements you have made and for any bitterness you hold towards anyone, even on behalf of anyone too.
- Any pride or anger you have in your heart surrounding this whole situation.
- If there is unforgiveness in your heart or anything else that you need to sort out. To then forgive that person/thing so it won’t be a barrier between you and God.
Align your heart with God’s heart
Ask God and the Holy Spirit to show you His heart for the whole situation. So we can partner with Him to pray so He can answer those prayers.
Put on your spiritual armour.
Ephesians 6:10-18 is excellent for helping us see how we can be spiritual warriors. Some people I know pray this regularly. As they pray out the different parts, they do the actions simultaneously to help them visualise what they are asking for spiritually.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
We have authority
If you haven’t realised this, here’s a reminder because of what Jesus has done for us. We have spiritual authority.
Look up Matthew 5:8-13 for the example of the centurion. And Jesus’ words to his disciples as he sent them out in Luke 10:18-20. Or some of Jesus’ last words to the disciples in Matthew 28:18-20.
Ask God to speak and be expectant that He will speak
We need to come with an expectation that God will speak and be ready for him to communicate in any what he would like.
“I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me ….” Habakuk 2:1
(If you’re not sure if you can hear God’s voice – then check out my previous blogs on this, e.g. #23 How do you hear God’s voice.
So in practical terms, this means to get yourself ready. Have a bible and notebook beside you (whether that’s electronically or in physical paper). Ask God to speak to you about how you can pray for the situation around Ukraine, thank Him in faith that he will speak. Then wait for Him to speak.
Ask God to show you what’s happening in the Spiritual Realm
2 Kings 6:13-23
When the King of Aram had surrounded Israel with his mighty force. Elisha’s servant was terrified. Elisha’s response v16+17:
“‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’
And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
Our natural eyes need the Holy Spirit’s help to see situations from God’s perspective.
If you’re struggling to find the words
Use worship songs
A few songs that I’ve been using as my prayers and spiritual weapons this week are two songs in particular.
I raise a hallelujah by Jonathan and Melissa Hesler (Bethel Music)
The lyrics are what I feel to declare. Hence, I think specifically about the situation in Ukraine as I sing/ shout them out.
A great example of how worship can change things is with Joshua and the fall of Jericho in Joshua 5:13 – 6:25.
Use God’s word.
Perhaps God gives you a piece of scripture to use, then speak it out, use the words to turn them into a prayer. Or if they are describing God’s nature and character – declare them out as to who God is over the situation.
5 days ago, I used Psalm 89 as my intercessory prayer. Other great Psalms are 142-148, or 121 or whatever God draws you to.
Pray for the leaders.
In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he gave us specific instructions to pray for our leaders:
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – or kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.” 1 Timothy 2:1-5
We need to pray for all the leaders involved by name. So look them up. Ask God how you can pray for them specifically today. But a good place to start is to ask God to give them wisdom and understanding. For capacity, understanding and humility to do what is best for those they are responsible for. To provide them with insight and revelation to respond well. To make decisions about and how to use the resources at their disposal. Pray for their protection and safety. And give them the Fear of the Lord to do what is right and honourable. And to have a greater revelation of who God is.
Pray for each of them specifically – President of Ukraine = Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The Prime Minister of Ukraine = Denys Shmyhal. President of Russia = Vladimir Putin. The leader of Russia’s army = General Valery Gerasimov (but Putin has the ultimate control).
Other possible prayers
Yes, pray for peace and healing and protection
In a time of violence, these things are needed. So ask God how you can pray in this specific area.
Pray with faith that God can do the impossible. Just like how we only need faith as small as a mustard seed (one of the smallest around) to be able to move mountains – Matthew 17:20.
Yes, pray for those fleeing and those who have found refuge in neighbouring countries. For those choosing to stay and are in hiding. Pray for the soldiers on both sides to have courage and peace to not kill others. Then, perhaps, for things to be like the way they happened in 2 Kings 6.
When you’ve felt you’ve finished all the prayers you want/ need to pray. Finish by thanking God that he has heard your prayers, that He will answer them and for the privilege to be able to be part of what God is doing in the spiritual realm as well as on the ground.
Praise God for who he is.
Other verses to continue to ponder
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:8+9
John 17 – yes, the whole chapter. As it shows us how much we are in Christ. Jesus’ relationship with our Heavenly Father. And how we too are loved and in unity with them both.
What was happening while Daniel was praying – Daniel 9: 20-23
Then as Daniel continued to pray, he had an angel come and explain why he had been delayed – Daniel 10: 12-18
I leave you with the truth that with Jesus, we are more than conquerors:
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31-39 esp v37-39