A statue of Saint Vladimir on the Kyiv hills overlooking the Dnieper River.(Photo: Unsplash/Robert Anasch)

We watched in horror as Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine on Thursday. The devastating and far-reaching impact of his decision can cause us to feel bewildered and helpless. But now is the time for us to rise up in prayer for our brothers and sisters on the ground.

Whether that be imploring God to move or simply weeping, all our prayers are powerful and effective. So here are some ways that we can all pray:

1. Pray with understanding 

We may feel detached from the situation but it is important to keep abreast of what is happening so that we can pray specifically. Do watch the news, but pray for the Spirit’s discernment and be aware that there has been a lot of misinformation online. Do remember too that God is not surprised by what has happened this week, and he has his hands on the whole arc of history.

In Matthew 24:6–8 Jesus instructed us not to be surprised by both natural disasters and military uprises: ‘You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth-pains.’

So let us look to the Bible, too, for wisdom and understanding in this confusing time.

2. Pray without fear 

As we learn more of Putin’s tactics and his weapons of choice and capabilities it can be easy to give into fear. Indeed, both our children asked us on Thursday morning whether this was the start of World War 3. And yet, in the above passage Jesus told us not to fear.

Therefore let us pray that God’s love will cast out fear from our hearts, so that we can pray with his loving Spirit’s guidance rather than out of panic. Also pray for fear not to grip the hearts of those in Ukraine – and Russia. Ask God to bring his comfort, and his sustaining power for those in the midst of this situation.

3. Pray with compassion – and a broken heart 

God tells us to ‘weep with those who weep’ (Romans 12:15, NLT). Let us remember that each innocent person caught up in the crossfire is God’s child, and someone else’s daughter or son. And with 70 per cent of people in Ukraine professing to be Christians, we should be feeling an affinity with and crying out for this part of the body of Christ – as it says in 1 Corinthians 12:25–26: ‘there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.’

Let us allow God to break our hearts for what breaks his, and cry out for his mercy.

Let us remember, too, that there are innocent people on both sides of this conflict. May we look with the eyes of compassion on them all, and pray that God would bring salvation to many.

4. Pray for wisdom and peace 

We know that our Lord is the Prince of Peace, and that his Spirit is the source of all wisdom. Let us pray for the world leaders who are responding to Putin’s attacks, and making plans for what to do next. May they be surrounded by godly advisors, and may they act as peacemakers in this volatile situation. Pray that they, and Ukraine’s leaders, are given wisdom on how best to defend and protect the vulnerable and weak.

5. Pray with hope 

Ultimately we know that Jesus is the victor and, however dark the days get, he will one day come back and administer justice: ‘Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End’ (Revelation 22:12-13).

Rather than growing weary of the darkness we see around us, let us continue to pray for God’s kingdom to come ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:10) and to declare the ultimate hope that is found only in Jesus. Pray, too, that Ukrainian Christians are able to share that hope with those around them, even in the midst of the huge difficulties they are facing themselves.

Claire Musters is a writer, speaker and editor who blogs at clairemusters.com. Her most recent books are Every Day Insights: Disappointment and Loss and Grace-Filled Marriage. The latter was written with her husband, and they have provided a series of free videos to accompany the book, which can be accessed on the Big Church Read website. Claire also writes and edits for Premier Woman Alive and Christianity magazines. All her books are available to purchase directly from her; for more information and to get in touch with her, do visit her website.

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