“The prayers of many Christians around the world give the people in Syria the feeling they are not alone,” says a pastor when he hears again about the many churches around the world praying for Syria. Christians in Syria feel encouraged and see God answering prayers; they even pray for the Christians outside the country.
“I want to express my deep appreciation for the people who keep us Syrian Christians in their prayers,” Pastor Edward from Damascus says. “My wife and I are thankful that we are still in Damascus. It is not in our own power that we are there. It is God’s intervention in our lives. Your prayers encourage us. Through that we can encourage others.”
The pastors say the situation in Syria is grim. “Nowadays, it’s hard to find a safe place. Grenade shells fall every day, and every other day we hear of people being injured or killed,” says Pastor Edward. “We recently lost one of our wonderful youth when a shell fell on one of the colleges. He was in his graduation year, taking his last test. It is very sad. At the same time, I am happy because I know that he recently came to know the Lord. I know he lost his life on earth, but he is now eternally with Jesus. It is very tough for the members of his discipleship group. It is very hard for his family, for them all their hope was lost with his death.”
In the midst of all the tragedy, Pastor Edward sees how God answers prayers. “We had a retreat with all pastors of our denomination. We all could see how the hand of the Lord is moving in our country and among the Syrians. Our staying in Syria is not a sacrifice; it is a privilege. All these pastors risk their lives too, but we all know it is our calling. It was very good to have some time together. What God does gives us is a sense of meaning and significance.”
The young Syrian Sarah* in her twenties is very much involved with prayer in Syria. “Of course, prayer is important to me. I always expect the protection of the Lord and His care because of prayers. I believe that prayer can move the hand of God. When I face a difficult or dangerous situation I text a prayer request to some of my friends to have them pray for me. But it is not only prayer that the worldwide Church should help us with, they also need to take action.”
Sarah wants Syrians to be involved in prayer, too. “One day, some years ago, the Holy Spirit said to me that I had to organize interdenominational prayer meetings in Aleppo. I remember how I objected: ‘Lord, I am just a woman in my twenties. I know no bishops, I have no funding.’ After meeting with someone in Open Doors, the organization turned out to be willing to fund the prayer meetings, but they wanted the meetings to have the support of a local church as well. I spoke to some priests and they agreed on the idea. First, it was only with the Syrian Orthodox and the Armenian Catholic church, but the third meeting was with all denominations. It was the first time in Aleppo that a meeting was held with all denominations. We had a time of worship and of free prayer. For several participants this was something new; they were not used to praying out loud in a church. Some 500 to 600 persons came to the meetings.”
“The prayer of many Christians around the world gives the people in Aleppo the feeling they are not alone,” says Pastor Samuel* from Aleppo. “I always mention it in church when I hear of people praying for us. It is an encouragement to know that we have brothers and sisters praying for us. Sometimes these people even make their support tangible by giving support for food packages.”
“By the way, we also pray for you. We pray for those who pray for us and for those who support us in other ways,” he concludes.
*Names have been changed to protect identity
Our Heavenly Father, rich in mercy, who because of Your great love for us, God, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions, we come before Your throne of grace today on behalf of our fellow believers in Syria. We thank You for their commitment to serve You even in this place that is so filled with violence right now. We are humbled by their prayers on our behalf. We pray for Your provision of food and shelter when they are without, for Your peace, protection, faith and courage in the midst of attacks, and for Your comfort to surround their sorrow when family members and friends are taken from them into Your presence. And help them to know our prayers on their behalf. Father we confess, some of us, that we are sometimes grieved that all we can do is pray and send a few dollars for food boxes. Forgive us, for we forget the ways You take our meager efforts and use them in profound ways to minister to their needs. And so today we turn to You, a God who is big and powerful and compassionate, sufficient for all of their needs, and ours. In the Name of Jesus, our all in all, Amen.