"The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds." (Ps 33:13-15)
Today, God is reigning and looking down from heaven. He sees all that's going on in our world, even every single match that has been going. He sees the citizens of the bustling cities, and also the nomads in the desert. He sees us going about our lives in busy Singapore, and He also sees the unreached and unknown people group tucked away in the jungles of the Amazon. None of our deeds escape Him! Praise God for His might and power and pray that more will come to know Him for who He is.
Pray for Saudi Arabia
It might surprise you to know that most of the Roman Catholics in Saudi Arabia are Filipinos. A majority of them find their way there as transient / migrant workers, and they make up a majority (approximately 60%) of the Christian population there.
That's quite incredible because Saudi Arabia is what we might call a 'closed country', where every citizen's religion is deemed to be Islam, and where conversion merits a death sentence. An article by our own Mothership penned just last month might interest you -- as you read it, do pray that the Gospel will survive and spread amidst the harsh environment. Pray for 'cosmetic changes' to bear real fruit. Pray that the migrant workers there will encounter and grow to love a personal Jesus who offers them a grace that cannot be earned, that the hope of the Gospel might spread to Saudi Arabia through them.
Pray for Egypt
Egypt offers us a sobering look into the ties between religion and power. In the early centuries after Jesus' death, Egypt was actually regarded as a centre of Christianity in the region as the religion found favor with the Roman rulers of the time.
But as Egypt came under Muslim rule, the number of Christians swiftly dwindled, and after a coup in 1952, conditions worsened drastically due to harsh government policies that restricted the access of local churches to state resources.
How can we pray? I found myself really struck by the 'rise and fall' of Christianity in the country - my prayer is that the Gospel will not be spread only where it is comfortable or convenient to do so, or where being 'Christian' means being favored and supported by the state. Will we only love Jesus when our country's laws make it easy to do so? Pray for our own hearts, that we might treasure the freedom of religion that we have in Singapore. Pray for Egypt, that God will continue to provide for and protect His people amidst persecution.
Pray for Uruguay
Uruguay is another case study that shows us the close ties between religion and the ruling authorities. In 1916, the separation between church and state was made official. Since then, the Roman Catholic Church has dwindled in number because of very practical considerations - a lack of funding often means a lack of comforts and the resources needed to sustain a church and evangelistic efforts.
Pray for the 'gospel of self-reliance' to die. There are those in Uruguay who view religion as a crutch, a helping aid for the weak and feeble who cannot live life without it. They are half-right: Jesus is here for the weak and feeble! But He comes not as a crutch that they can partially lean on, but a Savior that rescues them out of their utter and complete helplessness and into His hope and love. Pray that the Christians in Uruguay will grasp this truth and not drift from the true gospel.
Pray for Russia
Russia is a place that, frankly, scares me. You see, you could say that the Church is doing well in Russia. The leader of the Orthodox Church is pals with Putin! Yet when we flip that around, it means that Putin's laws and 'conservative' stance are backed by the Orthodox Church. This includes acts like the decriminalising of domestic violence (yes, domestic violence is no longer a crime in Russia).
Physical churches are springing up rapidly. Yet religious intolerance is also growing in a menacing way. It is ironic that just decades ago, Christians were persecuted under a communist regime - yet today, it is non-Christians who are in danger of receiving violence from the government and from the Orthodox 'Christians' that back Putin's regime.
Pray for courage. We need Christians who will be struck by the truth of the Gospel, and who will have the wisdom and the conviction to resist the Church's slow climb into bed with political power. Pray for repentance - violence cannot be the answer. We have seen too many crimes committed under the guise of 'Christianity'. Pray for Russia, that the church will awaken to the true Gospel and not a monster made up of their own ambition and longing for power.
Pray for Iran
Open Doors classifies Iran as a country with extreme persecution. The anti-Christian government does offer concessions to some historical Christian churches, but ministering to those of a Muslim background is strictly forbidden.
Iranian refugees were reportedly converting to Christianity after seeking asylum in Europe, but some have also admitted to converting to increase their chances of staying in the country. Pray that those who work with refugees will be able to explain and teach the gospel clearly. Pray that the Spirit will work to convict those who hear the gospel, such that regardless of their intent, they will eventually to saving knowledge of Jesus!
Pray for Portugal
We come to Portugal - top of the table (that's my prediction at least) but right at the bottom of this list. Portugal is a quaint country. Its rich Catholic heritage has woven Christian customs and practices into the lives of its citizens: attending Mass, partaking of the sacraments, baptism and even 'Last Rites' are all a part of Portugal's cultural landscape.
But as a younger generation grows into these fading traditions and asks questions of them, pray that these somewhat hollow habits will point the Portuguese towards the reality behind the custom. Pray that the body and the blood of Jesus will not be mere superstition that they follow for good fortune, but that the meaning and the person behind communion will be revealed to them. Pray that baptism will not be just another ritual to go through - pray that they will find Jesus, and in Him the strength to die to their self-absorption and self-reliance and be born again with a new heart that loves God and cares for others.
Pray for Morocco
Islam is the predominant religion in Morocco, and those who have converted to Christianity face persecution. For some who have converted, their marriages may not even be recognised by the state. Pray for the Christians in Morocco to stand firm in their faith amidst persecution.
Morocco is home to many people groups too, and one group, the Berber, Imazighen number about 2.7 million. However, only 0.07% of this people group are Christians. Pray for God to raise up workers and laborers that will be able to reach this group! Pray for creative means of reaching these people (e.g. by media or radio) in a country with strict laws against evangelism.
Pray for Spain
The Sagrada Familia is a famous tourist site in Barcelona. This still unfinished Roman Catholic church began construction in 1882, and was designed by famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. Once completed, the different facades of this building is meant to showcase the life of Christ.
Spain is home to many beautiful cathedrals but many in Spain are nominally religious only. Pray for the gospel to take root in the hearts of the people of Spain. Spain is also made up of different groups of people, each with their own struggles and impressions of Christianity. Pray for churches and Christian workers to be able to reach out to the different groups of people effectively.