How can we pray for Iraq?

AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed
An elderly Iraqi Yazidi man arrives at Nowruz camp, in Derike, Syria, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014.

With 1.5 million civilians in need of humanitarian aid, 2.2 million internally displaced and up to 50,000 Yazidis trapped on Sinjar mountain, the Iraqi crisis is fast spiralling out of control.

As the world watches on in horror, it's difficult to know how exactly to even begin praying (though the good news is that it doesn't matter how – just make sure you're doing it).

But with that in mind, we've bought together some of the prayer resources available online which might help if you're feeling overwhelmed.

Open Doors is working with local partners in Iraq to provide humanitarian relief to those most in need, and says knowing they are being held in prayer is making a real difference to those on the ground.

"I hear that people around the world are praying for us and supporting us. To those people I want to say: thank you. You are far away, but you can reach us here with your support. Moreover, your thoughts and prayers are valuable and God listens," said one local relief worker.

Local women had this request: "Pray for everything that is going on here. Pray that we will be strong amidst these times of turmoil, we as adults, but also our children."

Christian Aid offers this prayer:

Crying God,

We join our voices with those from around the globe,
crying out for the plight of the persecuted minorities in Iraq.

We join our hearts with those displaced from their homes, yet again,
crying out for the fear, the terror and the madness to end.

We join our hope with those who wait for rescue on the Shangal Mountains,
crying out for food, for water and for the kingdom of heaven to break into this hell.

We join our faith with the faith of all who pray,
Crying out for the slaughter of innocence to end.

We join our tears with yours,
Crying out for us all to know and live by the things that make for peace.

So help us, God,
Amen.

The organisation has also asked Christians around the world to pray for all NGOs, governments and humanitarian agencies as they work in the region, and for the protection of all Iraqi people. Helpful Bible passages and reflections are also available on the Christian Aid website.

Tearfund writes: "We know that God is a God of love, compassion, power and justice, who is 'mighty to save' (Isaiah 63:1). As we struggle to find words to respond in the face of such horror, remember Paul's words in Romans: 'We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.' (Romans 8:26)."

A list of specific prayer requests is available here, which includes praying for wisdom for Iraqi and world leaders as they deal with the escalating crisis.

The Christian Muslim Forum has written prayers for the Middle Eastern region as a whole, with emphasis on reconciliation between different religious and ethnic groups.

"Let's be ultimately committed to peace as we pray," urges director Julian Bond.

"Perhaps we can't stop any hostilities in Syria, Israel, Iraq, Gaza or anywhere else, but we can stand together as peaceful people."

Aid to the Church in Need has appealed for Christians to join in its global campaign of prayer, standing in solidarity "with our brothers and sisters in Iraq by saying 'I am Iraqi, I am Christian'.

"I appeal for your prayers so that God may show the people of Iraq his infinite mercy – comfort the mourners, bind their wounds and heal the broken-hearted in those biblical lands that have been a cradle of civilisation," said Rt Rev Declan Lang of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.

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