by Joan Hutter
Prayer raises warriors for God’s kingdom, bowed yet emboldened, surrendered yet equipped and commissioned. Without it, we go to battle empty-handed. But with prayer, we are fully armed.
So those on the frontlines in Syria waste no time “going” without praying.
I recently heard from some Syrian Christians who live in an area where blood covers every street and fills every town and village. They had a message for believers outside Syria.
First, pray. Second, stand firm.
“Prepare yourself by the Spirit of Prayer,” one Syrian pastor said.
In Syria, believers cling to Jesus as their only hope and protector. Many wake at 4:30 a.m. to pray, and fasting is normal. “We pray always,” he said. “We fast the first three days of each month. This is a spiritual war. There is no solution on earth. The only solution is from heaven. We pray for peace. The strongest weapon we have is prayer.”
Christians from different denominations are joining together to intercede for their nation. Even Muslims are beginning to come in search of a God of peace. As they hear the gospel message, many turn to Christ. In a heart-rending world, where brother torments brother, they ache for peace.
When Syrian believers visit people in their devastated homes or makeshift, plastic-bag shelters along the roads—and when they share the gospel—in most every case, whole families receive Christ as Savior. This is revival. In America, we pray for revival. In Syria, we see what it looks like.
But to pray before terror erupts and nations collapse is wisdom and deepest preparation.
Through prayer, these Syrian believers accept the call of God to stand firm.
While more than 2 million Syrians have exited the country, many believers bravely remain in their cities to hold ground for Christ—to keep the Christian presence in Syria. Everything in them may want to run for safety because radicals murder without mercy, but these steadfast ones believe God takes responsibility for their safety. They count the cost. They find the “yes” in their hearts, surrendering to the Lord and accepting what might happen to them.
They prepare their children for the worst. They look their young ones in the eyes and explain what to do if men in black appear at their door and press swords to their necks—or take the lives of mom and dad. They teach them to forgive, in love, as Jesus forgave.
“We do not want to run away from a miserable life when God calls us to stay,” these Syrian believers said. “This is a miserable life with murders, terrors and bloodshed. Yet we love Muslims and God loves Muslims.”
The smell of death fills the air; bombs and gunfire thunder night and day. Some cities resemble prisons with militia lined along the borders, keeping them in. That is how they live. But God is great. Through their prayers, fasting and obedience, He saves them from explosions and attacks by the leading of the Holy Spirit.
“God changes our plan and works miracles to show us that we are under His control,” one leader said. “We are under His calling.”
What can we do?
Stand in the gap. Syrian believers who stand firm in Damascus—the city of His delight and joy (Jeremiah 49:25), and around the country—call brothers and sisters here to stand with them before His throne.
So pray. Fast. Stand. Repent. Prepare by the Spirit of Prayer.
And be moved. Give anything at all. For the orphan and widow wander streets alone and wade through streams of blood. But God pours out His river of refreshing through the love of His people there, to wash the roads of His Syria. And He moves through the hearts of those here who are helping them in both practical and prayerful ways.
God remains on the throne. He has His way in the whirlwind and the storm. And all glory goes to Him.