Breakthrough is a monthly call to pray for the Arab world. In each edition we focus on a different country of the region, praying for ‘breakthrough’ over a particular stronghold.
In this edition of Breakthrough, we’re praying for the country and people of Qatar. We last prayed for them in December 2015, so it’s been a while. As you will read, the people of Qatar are rather resistant to the gospel. There are fewer than ten known believers among the small population of Qatari nationals.
With this in mind it would be easy to move into prayer without much hope, but we want to encourage you to cast off any doubts you have that your prayers won’t make a difference. You are not the only one praying these prayers, even if you are physically alone. Be assured that your faithfulness is recognised by God. Be excited that beneath the surface things will be taking place. Be certain that we’ll try to keep you informed of any signs of change that we encounter!
Without further ado…
Country focus: Qatar
Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. (Matthew 6:20-21, NLT)
The State of Qatar sits on the north-eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is a small country, surrounded almost entirely by water. It has a border with Saudi Arabia and lies close to the island of Bahrain.
The population of Qatar was estimated to be 2.5 million in July 2016. In reality, this fluctuates because of the seasonal arrival and departure of foreign workers. Qatari nationals represent only 13 percent of the population. They practice a strict form of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism. Only a handful of Qataris are Christians.
Qatar is a monarchy, ruled by the Al Thani family. It is the world’s wealthiest nation. Like many Gulf countries, it experienced rapid growth after the discovery of oil and gas reserves, of which it has the third largest worldwide. In 2022, Qatar will be the first Arab country to host the World Cup. This has drawn controversy from the start, with allegations of bribery and concerns about the welfare of labourers.
The stronghold we have chosen for Qatar is identity. Qatar is in many ways a modern state, but its people are bound by tradition. Qataris are secure in terms of wealth and they have lots of opportunities. Women can drive, and the government allows foreign workers to go to church (on a complex) and buy alcohol (in bars and nightclubs), despite Qataris following the same branch of Islam as Saudi Arabians. However, in recent years Qatar has been falling out of favour with its neighbours because of its interference in foreign affairs and sponsorship of extremist groups in Libya, Syria and Palestine. It seems to have a mixed agenda. It is modernising and wanting to appear progressive, while supporting the propagation of a strict form of Islam. On a more local level, the locals thwarted government plans to allow integrated lectures at a university.
If you want to read more about Qatar, this Economist article highlights the contradictions. There’s also a great website called prayforqatar.com, which includes information and prayer points.
- Pray for the people of Qatar as they grapple with their identity. May this struggle between progress and tradition force more people to think about who they are and what they actually value and believe as individuals.
- Lift up the rulers and leaders of Qatar, asking for wisdom as they move the country forward. Pray that their decisions would provide more opportunities for learning and personal growth, not just the acquisition of wealth and material possessions. Pray for them to find Jesus.
- This identity crisis has not helped the spread of the gospel. Qatar’s people are not particularly thirsty for the truth! Ask the Holy Spirit to seek out those who are ready to go on a journey of faith. Pray that seekers would be able to discover more about what Jesus has done for them through the web, through satellite TV, and by meeting believers in person.
- Lift up the handful of Qataris who have already accepted Christ. Pray that they would mature in faith and be fruitful, despite opposition. Pray that family members would choose to believe.
Thank you for your prayers!
The Arab World Media Team
Next month: Sudan