The startling images of men, women, and children forcing their way onto a military plane in Kabul, Afghanistan, stand in contrast to the images of my daily life strewn before me. My children’s toys are scattered across the floor. Backpacks and digital devices hang ready for school, and half-eaten breakfasts fill the sink. In the midst of my undeserved blessings and comfort, I don’t want to forget the people of Afghanistan, made in the image of God, who are facing unimaginable suffering.
The tragedy of what has transpired in Afghanistan has gripped the hearts of many Americans like me. As we read the headlines and watch the videos of the Taliban takeover, those of us who feel so far way are not powerless despite how it may seem. As those who trust in Christ, we can support the Afghan people in prayer by calling upon our Lord and his vast power.
When we face a daunting and complex situation, praying the scriptures is a great guide for us — and it transforms our minds in the process. (Rom. 12:2) Paul instructs us to pray “at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18). Below are a few prompts to help you pray for the Afghan church and people throughout the day.
Pray against the darkness
Any prayer offered to God is an engagement in spiritual battle.
- Pray against the cosmic powers of darkness to be pushed back. Ephesians 6 says: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.”
- Pray against the schemes of the devil in Afghanistan and around the world (2 Cor. 2:10-11; Eph. 6:11).
- Pray that evil acts done in secret would come to the light. (Eph. 5:13)
Pray for those who remain
Even before the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, the nation was facing a hunger crisis. In July, the international charity Oxfam reported that 42 percent of the population were in “crisis-level hunger or worse.” It is now reported that the Taliban is going house to house to exert control, and many are in danger.
- Pray for God’s provision for the physical needs for food, shelter, and water for the Afghan people (Matt. 6:11).
- Pray for supernatural protection for those in Afghanistan facing oppression and difficulty. Pray that they would experience Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and the rivers will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, and the flame will not burn you.”
- Pray for the safety and provision of U.S. and Afghan military forces who remain in the country.
- Pray for the missionaries and non-governmental organizations who have remained to continue on in their work amidst the humanitarian crisis.
Pray for those who have left
It must be a jarring and traumatic experience to be forced to flee from your country and the only home you’ve ever known. Not only that, many of those who have left Afghanistan don’t know where they will go.
- Pray for the international community to aid refugees who have fled or are currently fleeing persecution in Afghanistan.
- Pray for Afghan people living in different parts of the world as they watch and grieve for their country (Psa. 34:18).
- The ERLC has advocated for special refugee status for those feeling the country (Exodus 23:9; Lev. 19:33). Pray for government leaders in the U.S. to have compassion, wisdom, and courage as they make decisions that will affect many lives (1 Tim. 2:2).
Pray for the women of Afghanistan
It is widely reported that life under Taliban rule is highly restricted, and often dangerous, for women — even young women who are more rightly identified as children. Many women who have lived with two decades of freedom are waiting to see what life will be like for them in these circumstances.
- Pray that they would know they are created in the image of God and highly valuable. (Gen. 1:26-27)
- Pray for those who will affirm and advocate for the dignity of women and demonstrate Proverbs 31: “open our mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open our mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
- Pray for basic freedoms for women, such as education, to remain intact.
- Pray for the protection of the vulnerable from those who would prey on and abuse them (James 1:27).
Pray for the Afghan church
Afghanistan has long been a place of risk for Christians. According to Open Doors USA’s annual World Watch List, the second most dangerous place to be a Christian in the world is Afghanistan, only very slightly less oppressive than in North Korea.
Mindy Belz, senior editor at World magazine, who has traveled and written extensively about the Christian church in the Middle East, reported: “One leader of a house church network (with more than 500 members) received on Aug. 12 a letter signed by Taliban militants threatening him and his family. ‘We know where you are and what you are doing,’ it read.”
- Pray for the church to be “strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that [they] may have great endurance and patience” (Col. 1:11).
- Pray that the Lord would direct their hearts to God’s love and Christ’s endurance (2 Thess. 2:5).
- Pray for the gospel witness of the Afghan church. Pray that Muslims, and others, would “call upon the name of the Lord” in this time of duress (Psa. 50).
Pray for hope
The terrible situation in Afghanistan looks bleak, but as Christians, we know it is not without hope. Ours is the God of redemption and has a long history of bringing beauty from the ashes.
- Pray for Christians in Afghanistan and beyond to remain hopeful in the Lord and his purposes.
- Pray that those facing difficulty would experience peace despite their circumstances, as Elizabeth Elliot writes in Suffering is Never for Nothing, “We’re not adrift in chaos. We’re held in the everlasting arms” (Psalm 13).
- Pray that these sufferings will lead to hope anchored in God’s love, as is promised in Romans 5:3-5: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
- Pray that God will grant believers joy in the midst of trouble and would enable unbelievers to receive the message of the gospel (1 Thess. 1:6). Pray that they would soon experience Psalm 90:15: “Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us.”
Pray for the Taliban
Jesus told his followers, “But I tell you who hear Me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). Even though our daily lives aren’t immediately threated by the Taliban, we must identify ourselves with our brothers and sisters in Christ and exemplify Christ’s heart in our prayers.
- Praise God that “anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13). And pray that the members of the Taliban will call upon Christ.
- Pray that they will experience “the fragrance of Christ” from the Christian church and be led to life (2 Cor. 2:13-14).
- Pray that their plans would be thwarted and that they would be unable to hurt others.
- And pray that those who make up the Taliban will repent of their sin and turn to Christ and his forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
Paula Bronstein / Stringer