Countries to pray for this Christmas

AP Photo/Vahid SalemiIranian Christian women light candles, during Christmas mass at a church in Tehran, Iran

A wave of arrests of Christians usually occurs over the Christmas period. Church services are raided and Christians interrogated about their church activities.

Pray that Christmas services would be allowed to take place in peace, and that unjustly jailed Christians would be released.

Christians in northern and central Nigeria are frequently attacked by Islamist militia groups, including the terrorist group Boko Haram and its offshoot Ansaru. Churches are particularly vulnerable during Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Pray that any terrorist groups planning violence would be discovered, and their plans would fail.

Christmas in Vietnam is often a time when Christians of all denominations invite non-Christians to sing hymns and celebrate with them. This can leave the Christians open to accusations of 'illegal evangelism'.

Ask God to protect Christians accused of 'illegal evangelism' for inviting people of other faiths to Christmas celebrations.

(AP)A Christian family rests in front of their destroyed house, after it was attacked by a mob in Gojra, Pakistan, Friday, Aug. 7, 2009

Less than two per cent of Pakistan's population is Christian so most people in the country don't celebrate Christmas. Minority festivals can be a time of tension between communities.

Pray for peace, understanding and goodwill between Christians and their Muslim neighbours, demonstrating the spirit of the Christmas message.

National elections take place on 5 January. Christians and other minorities are at risk of violent attacks before and after elections.

Ask God to pour out his peace on the nation during the Christmas and New Year period.

The Christian community is being targeted increasingly by supporters of former president Morsi. There are legitimate concerns that Christians may once again face violence or intimidation over Christmas and New Year.

Ask God to protect Egyptian Christians as they celebrate the birth of Christ.

Almost half a million Christians have fled the war in Syria, and those who have chosen to remain are increasingly vulnerable to attacks by Sunni Islamist militias.

Pray for a just and lasting peace, and for Syria's diverse religious and ethnic groups to be reconciled.

APA statue of Jesus Christ is left smashed on the floor of a church that was attacked by Muslim hardliners in Temanggung, Central Java, Indonesia

Hundreds of churches in Indonesia have been forced to close by the authorities, and others have not been allowed to hold Christmas services.

Pray that the congregations of forcibly closed churches would find a place to celebrate Christmas in peace and safety.

Christians and other minorities have faced continuing repression since South Sudan became an independent nation. Christmas 2012 was marked by tension, after a Muslim woman became a Christian, the priests who baptised her were arrested and their church was closed.

Pray that Christmas celebrations would take place peacefully with no arrests, and for good relations between Christians and Muslims.

Central African Republic
Previously harmonious relations between Christian and Muslim communities are currently at an all time low. In the past few weeks over 1,000 people have been killed in sectarian violence that has included targeted attacks on Christians, particularly families with young men.

Pray for an end to the violence, for political stability, and for reconciliation between Muslim and Christian communities.

Tensions between Catholics and Protestants, and followers of traditional indigenous beliefs, can sometimes lead to conflicts, especially over Christmas.

Pray for understanding and peace between different religious communities, and for the safety of those who have already been forced from their homes due to religious conflicts.