"For the Lord builds up Zion; he appears in his glory; he regards the prayer of the destitute and does not despise their prayer." (Psalm 102:16-17)
As news of the Taliban tightening its terrifying grip across Afghanistan filters through to us, it is all too easy to feel helpless. Simply offering our prayers in such a terrible situation can feel like a glib promise. However, that is exactly what Afghanistan's thousands of secret believers want us to do, most of all.
Our brothers and sisters in the thick of it all are responding to these fearsome developments with faith. And the one thing they ask of the global church right now is our prayers. The following prayer points come from our frontline partners:
1. Pray for the believers who have stayed. When the Taliban took over the country, many Christians fled. But others have chosen to stay to be a witness for the Lord. Pray for these brave men and women: for safety, security, strength and 'opportunities' as they adjust to their new rulers.
2. Pray for those who have fled the country. Ask that they will stay faithful to the Lord, and that life in the West will not dilute their vibrant faith.
3. Pray for the girls and the women. They are even more vulnerable under the Taliban rule. Many are afraid that their education will be cut short or become a cause of shame. Some have reportedly burned their diplomas to hide the fact that they have received schooling. Pray that they will not lose the desire to continue learning.
4. Pray for safety as they practise their faith in complete secrecy. To be openly Christian in Afghanistan is a potential death sentence, and it's not just the Taliban – who are actively seeking for secret believers. Becoming an 'apostate' is thought to bring shame upon your family and honour killings for converting are commonplace.
5. Pray for the spiritual seekers – not just for the spiritually hungry within Afghanistan. Pray for the church around the world to show the love of Christ to Afghans who have fled as refugees.
6. Pray about food supplies. While global attention is on the conflict, people are going hungry. The World Food Programme fears that due to the drought and famine, 14 million people in Afghanistan could be pushed to the brink of starvation. Ask the Lord to provide food and necessities to the Afghanistan people.
7. Pray for Covid-19 in Afghanistan. The country's chief of public health recently admitted that healthcare facilities are collapsing, vaccination rates are falling, and there is a shortage of oxygen.
8. Pray for our frontline partners and volunteers: that God would prepare them for the massive task of serving refugees reaching nearby nations. Ask God for permits to be granted, allowing them to provide aid to refugees in the camps.
9. Pray that no more terrorist attacks will take place. Last August, two explosions occurred near the local airport killing more than 60 locals and 13 US soldiers. The bombings were claimed by the Islamic State in Khorasan, an extremist group at odds with the Taliban. Ask the Lord to put an end to the plans of these extremist groups.
10. Pray for the Taliban. The planned new government includes known Islamic extremists who espouse a harsh interpretation of Sharia Law, as well as one known terrorist wanted by the FBI. Pray for a miracle: that God will reveal Himself to these leaders through dreams and visions.
There will be the opportunity to pray for Afghanistan at Open Doors' annual Standing Strong Live event – online this year on Saturday. You will also hear first-hand stories from Christians around the world, living out their faith in the face of extreme persecution. Book your free place today. There is also a Standing Strong youth event the day before.