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 issue of Breakthrough we focus our prayers on Syria, a country that has been caught up in conflict for many years. We’ll be praying for people who are deceived into believing they are acting on God’s behalf when, in fact, they are working for the evil one. It’s not always easy to pray for the fighters who are part of Daesh (ISIS) or those contemplating joining it. May God fill our hearts with compassion and understanding.
If you’re struggling today, be encouraged by Max Lucado’s encouraging perspective on prayer…
Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the One who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.
May we take heart in knowing that our prayers will not go unheard and unanswered. The Lord Almighty will do his work in Syria; all he requires is for you and me to pray unceasingly.
Country focus: Syria
‘It shall come about on that day,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘that I will break his yoke from off their neck and will tear off their bonds; and strangers will no longer make them their slaves.’ (Jeremiah 30:8, NASB)
Syria shares a border with Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey, and has a 120-mile-long (193km) coastline on the Mediterranean Sea. It has a population of around 17 million, 90 percent of whom are Arab. The predominant religion is Islam (87 percent) followed by Christianity (10 percent) and Druze (3 percent).
In 2011, civil war between different rebel groups and the government broke out within the country. As the war intensified with no signs of peace, Daesh emerged in 2014. This resulted in the government’s forces and the rebel groups concurrently fighting a separate battle against Daesh.
The effects of this long-drawn-out war of six years have resulted in the deaths of 470,000 individuals. As of March this year, there are an estimated 11 million Syrians seeking refuge. Within Syria itself, more than 6.3 million people are currently displaced and 13.5 million are receiving or awaiting humanitarian aid.
The stronghold we will be praying against for Syria is deception.
Back in 2014 there were as many as 100,000 fighters in Daesh. This number does not include women or children. Numbers may have declined, but there are still thousands of people living within the shrinking territories of this group.
Each member of Daesh is to some extent deceived – deceived by their own evil desires or by the cunning words of others who have convinced them that Daesh represents Islam in its true form.
Thousands of children have been abducted by Daesh and are being taught and conditioned to kill as well as to idolize suicide bombers. They are being exposed to videos of suicide attacks daily. A belief that is drilled into their heads is that the reward of going to heaven will be guaranteed for those who blow themselves up.
Daesh has used social media as a powerful medium to brainwash online users into supporting and joining its cause. Its recruiters constantly update their social media accounts to intentionally depict their lives and the Daesh territory positively to lure people in.
Last year we shared this testimony from a member of Daesh. He called one of our responders to threaten him. However, when the responder reacted with love, his tone softened. Instead, he shared that he has been fighting with Daesh since he was a teenager. He pleaded with the responder not to leave him; he wanted to be a Christian but if other fighters knew about it, he would be killed.
Whilst some have seen the light and desire it for themselves, there are still many who are caught in deception and are in need of wisdom to draw the line between falsehood and truth.
- First, let’s pray for God to fill our hearts with compassion and love for this group.
- Pray that the members of Daesh who are still trapped in deception would have wisdom to discern what is right and wrong.
- Pray for God to reveal himself as Truth and Light to many members of this group.
- Pray for God to protect the hearts and minds of children and young people under their influence. May they resist being deceived by what they have been taught.
- Pray for God to reveal himself as the Prince of Peace and a Counsellor to all Syrians inside as well as outside of the country.
- Pray for the government and different rebel groups to come to a peaceful agreement that brings this brutal war to an end.
There are many other things we could and should pray for Syria and its people, so feel free to add your own to this list. Use the comments section below if you want to share these.
Thank you for your prayers!
The Arab World Media Team