Daily Prayer - December 2023

Friday 1 December 2023

Rice prices are reaching record highs globally as part of the ongoing global food crisis that is affecting the world’s poorest, among whom are many Christians. The crisis is caused by, among other things, extreme weather events such as floods and droughts, and conflicts that disrupt agriculture and food distribution. Give thanks that since Barnabas Aid’s food.gives project was launched in June 2021, we have sent more than 71 million servings of food to hungry and impoverished Christians. Pray for the continued success of food.gives, for the work of all those working to alleviate hunger and malnutrition, and ultimately for an end to the global shortage of food.

Saturday 2 December 2023

A theological seminary in Beijing, which is linked to China’s Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) – the official Protestant church in China – inaugurated an exhibition centre dedicated to the Sinicisation of Christianity on 22 September. The centre aims to showcase the history of developing Christianity in the Chinese context. Such contextualisation can be a useful process, ensuring that the Gospel is preached and lived out in a manner appropriate to a particular time and place. However, it can also be a means by which the truth of Christianity is obscured or distorted. Ask the Lord, who gives generously, to give wisdom to Chinese church leaders as they shepherd His flock (James 1:5).

Sunday 3 December 2023

Lord Jesus, we give thanks for the faithfulness of Christians in North Korea despite intense suffering and persecution. We stand with those in labour camps and prisons and especially those singled out for the harshest punishments because of their faith in You. We pray that Your transforming presence and the comfort of Your Spirit will instil hope where there seems to be no hope of human help. We praise You that You are the light shining in the darkness that cannot be overpowered. We ask that You will cause Your church to shine brilliantly despite the secrecy they have to exercise, for we ask in Your precious Name. (John 1:5)

Monday 4 December 2023

A court in Sumatra, Indonesia, has imprisoned a Muslim man after he broke up a church service and claimed it should not be going ahead. Prosecutors had originally sought the maximum four-year sentence for the man, but the court handed down a much-reduced sentence of around three months (including time already served) on the grounds that he had undergone a peace process with the congregation he had harmed. Give thanks that the authorities took this anti-Christian action seriously. Praise God for the witness of His people who, like their Saviour, when reviled did not revile in return (1 Peter 2:23, ESV).

Tuesday 5 December 2023

Three deacons from a church in Mindat Township, Chin State, Myanmar, are believed to have been tortured to death by the Buddhist extremist Myanmar military (Tatmadaw). Chai Kay, Hon Chway and Hon Kay were arrested on 16 July along with the pastor of the church, Htang Kay On. After being tortured and left for dead in a nearby ditch, Pastor Htang was able to escape and receive treatment. However, the three deacons have not been seen or heard from since their arrest. Pray that if these three men are still alive they will be released, and that if not their families and friends will be comforted by knowing that they are with the Lord. Ask that Pastor Htang will recover from his ordeal.

Wednesday 6 December 2023

The Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) has been accused of committing war crimes by deliberately attacking churches, hospitals and schools where displaced people are sheltering. The Human Rights Organisation of Christian-majority Chin State claims that 95 religious buildings, mostly churches, have been hit by shelling in the region since the military seized power in a coup in February 2021. Five hospitals and clinics and four schools have also been destroyed, it said. In August two men were arrested and killed by soldiers and around 100 people forced from their homes in Christian-majority Kachin State. Ask for an end to violence in Myanmar, so that all people can live in peace. Pray especially for the Lord’s protection over His people.

Thursday 7 December 2023

Mountain areas of Myanmar’s Christian-majority Karen State can suffer from freezing temperatures at this time of year. The desperate cold can pose a serious risk for families displaced from their homes by the ongoing violence, with many thousands of Karen Christians living in makeshift shelters in the jungle. As well as the danger of freezing to death, the change of season can also bring flu, bronchitis, malaria and dysentery. Pray for the work of Barnabas Aid partners and all aid agencies working to give practical support to displaced and vulnerable people in Myanmar.

Friday 8 December 2023

A man and a woman in the city of Janakpurdham, Nepal, were attacked on the morning of 5 September for preaching Christianity. A group of extremists smeared black soot on the man’s face and handed both Christians to the police. The incident came as church leaders in Nepal reported attacks on at least seven church buildings in August and September. Ask that attacks on Christians will come to an end. Pray that the two arrested Christians will not face charges despite the vague wording of a law banning “hurting religious sentiment”, which makes any sharing of belief potentially illegal.

Saturday 9 December 2023

A Barnabas-supported training ministry in Nepal strengthens believers in their faith and prepares Christians to serve their local church in a country where believers often face hostility. Courses provide discipleship and leadership development through self-study and group discussion led by trained tutors. Rupilal says one of the courses “changed my thinking” and made him realise the importance of Bible study, prayer and service. Now he leads his village church discipling others. Praise God that Nepalese believers are being strengthened in their love for our Sovereign Lord (Habakkuk 3:19). Pray that through them more people will hear God’s Word.

Sunday 10 December 2023

Almighty God, we lift up to You our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan. We ask You to provide for their physical and spiritual needs as they endure severe poverty along with the rest of the country. We pray for Your protection for Christians who, as converts from Islam, must keep their faith hidden under threat of execution as apostates. Please empower them to live gracious, compassionate and righteous lives, reminding them that “the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever”. (Psalm 112:6)

Monday 11 December 2023

Afghanistan’s Taliban government detained 18 charity workers (17 Afghans and one US citizen) for allegedly preaching Christianity in early September. The workers were arrested from the office of Swiss charity International Assistance Mission (IAM) in Ghor Province, central Afghanistan. IAM, which has done humanitarian work in Afghanistan since 1966, is a Christian charity but provides aid to people of all religions. Pray that all the staff members will be released unharmed and that the authorities will be convinced of the vital contribution Christians are making to help Afghan people.

Tuesday 12 December 2023

Lift up in prayer Pastor Zulfiqar Gill, who was dragged out of a church service he was leading in Peshawar, Pakistan, by extremists who beat him with the butts of their rifles. Pastor Zulfiqar was left with injuries to his head and eye. The attackers also fired several shots inside the church building.Thankfully there were no fatalities and police intervened to arrest the gunmen. Give thanks for this intervention, and for condemnation of the violence from Pakistan’s Muslim League. Pray that the Lord will bring peace in Pakistan.

Wednesday 13 December 2023

“I give all glory and honour to my God for this privilege of learning.” These were the words of “Anisha”, a South Asian Christian missionary and one of more than 800 ministry leaders from more than 30 countries studying with Barnabas Aid’s The Shepherd’s Academy (TSA). The aim of TSA (which is the undergraduate section of our Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life) is to empower these leaders with the necessary tools to lead their communities and churches faithfully and effectively, emulating the Good Shepherd in their contexts. Pray that the Lord will continue to use TSA to strengthen His Church in Christian-minority and other Global South contexts.

Thursday 14 December 2023

Sujata is four and attends one of seven Barnabas-funded Christian pre-schools in Bangladesh that provide free education to Christian children from impoverished communities. Most of the children’s parents are low-paid day labourers ostracised by their Muslim neighbours. Pupils learn English, maths and Bangla as well as Bible stories and Christian values. Sujata tells her parents what she’s learned from the Bible when she gets home. “They love to hear these stories,” she says. Give thanks for the Christian teaching of these pre-schools that is benefitting families of believers. Pray that the children continue to grow in the joy of the Lord.

Friday 15 December 2023

Violence again flared up in the restive north-eastern Indian state of Manipur in late September. Hundreds of people have been killed in clashes that began in May this year, most of them from the Christian-majority Kuki ethnic group. Pray that the Lord will protect His people from harm, and restore peace for all the citizens of Manipur.

Saturday 16 December 2023

The Sri Lankan Ministry of Religion has announced plans to make compulsory the registration of places of worship. At present it is not a requirement for churches, mosques or temples to be registered with the Sri Lankan government, although sometimes extremists and local officials use a lack of registration as a pretext to harass churches. The ministry also plans to introduce laws combating speech judged to be hurtful or offensive to other religions. Pray that these new laws, if enacted, will not become a means of increasing anti-Christian persecution.

Sunday 17 December 2023

Lord God, the righteous Judge of all the world, we pray today for Christians facing hostile questioning by earthly authorities, whether in law courts or under torture, and for those who expect to experience this in the future. Please keep them from all worry about what to say. May the Holy Spirit give them the right words, and may our brothers and sisters have the assurance that it is He who is speaking. May their witness and testimony work powerfully in the hearts of their accusers and all who hear. We ask in the Name of the Christ. (Mark 13:11)

Monday 18 December 2023

In June 2023 the government of Uganda passed new legislation that permits Islamic banking, and on 8 September the Bank of Uganda granted the first Islamic banking licence. Christians are concerned that the move has opened a door that will allow further elements of sharia (Islamic law) to be incorporated into the legal system of Uganda, which is a secular Christian-majority state. Pray that church leaders will be given wisdom in how to respond to these developments.

Tuesday 19 December 2023

Voters go to the polls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) tomorrow, as the country holds elections for the post of president and its 500-seat National Assembly, as well as for regional and local government. Christian-majority DRC is a deeply troubled land. Vast mineral deposits have led to even greater hardship, as mines are places of danger, disease, hardship and violence. Around 1,800 civilians were killed in 2022 alone by armed groups in the north-eastern provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu. Pray that the Lord will enable whoever gains power in tomorrow’s elections to take steps to improve the lives of all people in the DRC.

Wednesday 20 December 2023

A church minister in southern Kaduna State, Nigeria, was burned to death on 7 September by Fulani Islamist extremists. The assailants were attempting to abduct Na’aman Danlami and others from the rectory of a church in Kafanchan when they set fire to his car. The fire spread to the house. Three other men were able to escape, but Na’aman died in the blaze. “The assault lasted more than an hour, but there was no reaction or support from the military forces,” said Julius Kundi, a senior church leader. Pray for the bereaved family and friends of Na’aman, asking that they will be comforted by the Lord’s unfailing love (Psalm 119:76). Ask that security forces will be awakened to the need to protect Christians.

Thursday 21 December 2023

Pray for the bereaved family, friends and congregation of Pastor Jeremiah Mayau, who was shot and killed while working on his farm in Kaduna State, Nigeria. “It is very painful that gunmen move freely in broad daylight to execute their evil act and get away with it,” said Reverend John Joseph Hayab, chair of the Kaduna branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria. Ask that the Lord’s people in Nigeria will continue to trust in Him through all of their trials, difficulties and suffering.

Friday 22 December 2023

Abductions of pastors and church ministers are a regular occurrence in northern and Middle Belt Nigeria. Pastor Usman Umaru was kidnapped from his church in the Jos East Local Government Area (LGA) of Plateau State on 13 September, along with two other members of the congregation. A month earlier, two church ministers – Paul Sanogo and a seminarian named Melchior – were taken from Paikoro LGA in Niger State. Pray for these three men and many other pastors – not known to us, but known to the Lord – who have been abducted in Nigeria. Ask the Lord to free them and to heal them from physical and mental harm.

Saturday 23 December 2023

Praise the Lord that abducted Nigerian church minister Obioma Okide was freed after being held for four days by his kidnappers. The minister was taken on Sunday 17 September as he was on his way to lead a church service in the Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State. A church statement thanked God for His protection and believers for their prayers. Join with our Nigerian brothers and sisters in giving thanks, as well as continuing to pray for other pastors and church ministers who remain in captivity.

Sunday 24 December 2023

Lord God and Heavenly Father, we are mindful that this time of celebration is often a time of fear for our brothers and sisters around the world, who are at increased risk of attack. We pray that You will protect Your people from any violence as they meet for worship on this Lord’s Day or gather to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ tomorrow, because we ask it in His Name (Psalm 140:1).

Monday 25 December 2023

“Joy to the world! The Lord is come.” Give thanks that the eternal Son of God humbled himself to become a human being, coming “in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering” (Romans 8:3). Having humbled Himself in this way, He then humbled Himself to endure death on a cross, dying for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures (Philippians 2:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3). Pray that these wonderful truths will be a particular blessing to our suffering and persecuted Church family, and that they will be reminded that the Lord God has Himself entered into their suffering and hardship.

Tuesday 26 December 2023

“We thank the Lord for His graces bestowed upon us and remain in gratitude to Barnabas Aid for their unconditional love and care for our school and all its members.” These were the words of Miss Amal Behnam, director of St Aphrem’s Christian school in Bethlehem, which is supported with funding from Barnabas. Barnabas supports more than 13,000 needy Christian children in 140 Christian schools in nine countries. Pray for the continued success of St Aphrem’s in Bethlehem and all of these schools in training Christian children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).

Wednesday 27 December 2023

More than 30 church leaders attended a conference in Erbil, Iraq, with international human rights experts investigating the crimes of Islamic State (IS – also known as ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) against Christians and others in that country. Christian Ritscher, who is leading the investigation, told the church leaders, “Your togetherness and your resilience are inspirational, not just to the Christian community in Iraq, but also to us.” Mr Ritscher added that the investigation had uncovered further evidence of IS crimes, “including the destruction of Christian cultural heritage in Mosul and the Nineveh Plains, where IS perpetrators targeted churches, monasteries, cemeteries, manuscripts, Christian symbols and artwork”. Give thanks that these anti-Christian crimes are being acknowledged. Pray for healing for traumatised believers, and other victims of IS.

Thursday 28 December 2023

At the time of writing, at least ten of the 69 Christians arrested in Iran in June and July are still being held. Those who have been released say they were forced to sign commitments not to undertake any Christian activities, or ordered to undergo Islamic re-education classes. Almost all of those arrested are Farsi (Persian)-speaking converts from Islam. Ask the Lord to sustain those now kept from meeting with other Christians, forced to attend Islamic classes, or who remain in prison, asking that He will not leave them in the power of their opponents or let them be condemned (Psalm 37:33).

Friday 29 December 2023

Iranian-Armenian pastor Anooshavan Avedian, 61, reported to prison in Tehran, Iran, on 18 September to begin a 10-year sentence for engaging in “propaganda contrary to and disturbing to the holy religion of Islam”. Anooshavan was sentenced in 2022 but did not receive the official summons to start serving his sentence until this month. At the conclusion of his prison term, Anooshavan faces a further 10 years’ “deprivation of social rights”. Ask that Pastor Anooshavan will experience God’s sustaining power as he begins this long sentence.

Saturday 30 December 2023

Praise the Lord for the release of Iranian-Armenian pastor Joseph Shahbazian from Tehran’s Evin Prison. Pastor Joseph was pardoned and released on 13 September after serving 13 months of his sentence. The sentence, originally ten years, had been reduced to two in May 2023. Ask that Pastor Joseph, who suffered ill health during his imprisonment, will receive the medical care that he needs. Pray that the day will come when there will be no punishment for practising Christianity in Iran.

Sunday 31 December 2023

Lord God and Heavenly Father, thank You for providing the resources and guiding Barnabas in completing hundreds of life-changing and life-saving projects throughout 2023. Thank You for the gift of food and water, medical supplies, Bibles, Christian education, and so much else for our suffering and persecuted family. Please continue to direct the ministry of Barnabas – and other ministries – in serving the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whose Name we pray.