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.
Syria is one of two countries that have made it onto the list every year we’ve been running Breakthrough. (The other one is Yemen). This is because of the desperate situation there. Since 2014, we have prayed to break the strongholds of hopelessness and despair, pride and power, darkness, and deception. This year, and this month, we pray that our mighty God would overcome the hopelessness that has permeated many hearts in Syria. This is long-term hopelessness. We pray knowing that, despite the grim outlook, God is doing something wonderful in the lives of many Syrians, and particularly among refugees. We’ve seen it ourselves. God is giving Syrian men and women a different kind of hope that comes only through knowing Jesus.
Country focus: Syria
There is hope for your future, declares the Lord, and your children shall come back to their own country. (Jeremiah 31:17 ESV)
The Syrian Arab Republic is a Middle Eastern country to the south of Turkey. It also borders Iraq, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon, and has more than 1,000 miles of coastline on the Mediterranean Sea.
The population of Syria is estimated to be 18 million, the majority of whom are Arab. However, there are many other ethnicities represented, including Kurdish, Armenian and Turkomen. Islam is the majority religion and is followed by nearly 90 per cent of the population. Around 64 per cent of Syrians are Sunnis, while 13 per cent are Shia, a group that includes President Bashar al-Assad’s people, the Alawites. Christians form a significant minority of perhaps ten per cent.
Before the war, Syria was home to many busy, vibrant towns and cities. It had some wonderful historic sites that included Roman ruins and crusader castles. Sadly, some of these have been destroyed or damaged by Daesh (ISIS).
Today, Syria is mostly known for the bloody civil war that began in 2011, claiming thousands of lives and displacing millions of people. Almost a quarter of the world’s refugees are Syrian, but there are even more Syrians who have been internally displaced.
The stronghold we’re praying to break this month is hopelessness. The seemingly unending war in Syria has had a severe psychological impact on a huge number of people, who are no longer able to imagine better days of peace, safety and stability. This is because they’ve lost hope and now live only to survive. For many, each day is about getting enough food, water and fuel to keep their families going, while the nights are long and dark because anything could happen.
Adults and children have lived through the unthinkable. Many children have lost the carefree childhood they once had and are missing out on school because they need to work to feed their families. Boys and girls are growing up without mothers and fathers. Imagine what living like this for years does to a person!
Don’t let this dishearten you, though. Use the compassion you feel to fuel your prayers and be encouraged by the truth of Scripture. In 1 Chronicles, David says: Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered… (16:11-12 ESV). This is as true today as it was in David’s time.
As always, please feel free to pray as the Holy Spirit leads, but if you need some suggestions, these are for you…
- Pray for Syrians who have completely lost hope. Pray that in their despair they would seek out the Lord God and bring their needs to him. Pray that they would cry out to him and that he would meet them in a powerful way.
- Pray specifically for children. Lift up those who have been traumatised, those who have been orphaned, those who have lost loved ones. Pray for moments of normal childhood – time to laugh and play. Pray for seeds of hope.
- Lift up the Christian communities of Syria. May our brothers and sisters be a source of light and hope for others. May they continue to trust and glorify the Lord.
- Pray for clear signs that the war is finally coming to an end. Ask God to pour out wisdom and humility on those who need it most.
- Finally, pray for some groups of Druze and Kurds who have come to faith and are being mentored. We see that the Spirit is doing something new among these peoples.
We would also encourage you to watch this video, shared by kind permission of Prayercast.