Tuesday, September 13, 2016

RLPB 375. Russia, Jordan, Uzbekistan: Pray for 'those in authority'

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 375 | Wed 14 Sep 2016

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RUSSIA, JORDAN, UZBEKISTAN: PRAY FOR 'THOSE IN AUTHORITY' 
by Elizabeth Kendal

'I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people -- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.' (1 Timothy 2:1-4 NIV)

While God offers salvation to all people freely, lack of religious liberty and security make Gospel witness and conversion incredibly costly. In many places the Church is forced 'underground', depriving those who are perishing of life-saving witness. In the days when the cruel despot Nero ruled over the Roman Empire, the Apostle Paul urged the church to pray for 'all those in authority' to the end that we might live openly as Christians sharing the Gospel freely. Paul declares such liberty to be 'good', something that 'pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth' (1 Timothy 2:1-4 NIV). With this in mind, let us pray for religious liberty and security in two states heading into elections, and one undergoing political transition.

RUSSIA: LOWER HOUSE ELECTIONS, 18 SEPTEMBER


Russians go the polls on Sunday 18 September to elect a new 450-seat Duma (legislative assembly, lower house). The Russian Duma is a diverse house, comprising 'progressives', traditionalists, Communists, nationalists, 'hawks' and 'doves'. Western sanctions have brought great economic hardship to Russia. This has empowered the 'hawks' within Russia's ruling United Russia party which is now slumping in the polls.  On Tuesday 6 September, President Putin told the party that the deeply unpopular anti-terror laws -- which include shocking anti-mission measures -- may need to be 'adjusted to not put people in a difficult position' (Stratfor Intelligence, 8 September). Pray for President Putin and Prime Minister Medvedev and for God to intervene in Russia to guide the electorate and all those in authority to the end that religious liberty might be restored.

JORDAN: LOWER HOUSE ELECTIONS, 20 SEPTEMBER

Jordanians go to the polls on 20 September to elect a 130-seat lower house by means of a new electoral law. Though the new voting system is expected to lead to increased Islamist representation in parliament, the system has been designed to ensure the Islamists are diluted in a pool of some 50 parties. With a large Palestinian minority and many thousands of Iraqi and Syrian refugees, Jordan is volatile. The monarchy hopes the new voting system will give the government greater legitimacy. Christians in Jordan are free to worship openly, but not to witness to Muslims. Pray for King Abdullah and for God to intervene in Jordan to guide the electorate and all those in authority to the end that Christian liberty and security might actually be enhanced.

UZBEKISTAN: GOVERNMENT IN TRANSITION 

On 2 September, Uzbekistan's long-time autocratic ruler, Islam Karimov (78), died of a stroke. Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev (58) will serve as Acting President until a presidential election takes place sometime within the next three months. Uzbekistan's repressed and persecuted 0.75 percent minority Christians do not expect their situation to improve -- some fear it might get worse. Officially secular, Uzbekistan is 90 percent Muslim and the threat posed by Islamic jihadist and revolutionary movements is real. Laws designed to clamp down on these movements are also used to persecute Christians and repress Protestant Christianity which the government regards as a 'foreign' and destabilising force. Please pray for Acting President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and all those in authority in Uzbekistan to the end that the Church may be free to worship, minister and witness.

GENERAL PRAYER

God our Father,

As we come with our requests we are acutely aware that we fall short in so many ways. And so we pray with the mind and heart of your servant Daniel, and appeal for your action and plead for your intervention, not because we deserve it, but because you are merciful (Daniel 9:16-19). 

Because you, O Lord, have compassion for the 'harassed and helpless' who live like 'sheep without a shepherd'; and because you, O Lord, long to see more workers in your harvest field (Matthew 9:35-38) we ask that you would intervene in states where religious liberty is not respected, and where Christian ministry, witness and conversion are prohibitively costly.

Intervene, Lord, directing the hearts of 'kings' (Proverbs 21:1), raising up Cyrus-like figures (Isaiah 45) -- leaders whom you will lead in the interests of your Church and for the blessing of the world. May enemies be stripped of their power and may doors be opened (Isaiah 45:1) so that people might come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:1-4) whereby righteousness might flourish and salvation sprout (Isaiah 45:8) in Russia, in Jordan, and in Uzbekistan -- indeed in all the world 'as the waters cover the sea' (Isaiah 11:9, Habakkuk 2:14).

AMEN


SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE

Please take any one of the three paragraphs here -- Russia, Jordan or Uzbekistan -- for use in church bulletins and for your prayer focus of the week.

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Elizabeth Kendal is the author of Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and, After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016). See www.ElizabethKendal.com