‘The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ Psalm 34:17-18
When we receive news of violence from far away, it’s often difficult to pray feeling a real connection. We don’t know those who are suffering, and we can’t imagine the depth of their pain and grief. That’s why it’s a comfort to read verses like theose in Psalm 34:17-18. Though we cannot always physically support the broken hearted and downtrodden, we know that God is always with them and has promised to save them. When we pray, we do so in confidence to a God who more than makes up for the failings of our human hearts.
This week, join us in praying for peace and healing for the families of the 40 people were killed in an attack on a cathedral in the Central African Republic on 15 November. Sacred Heart Cathedral, its surrounding properties, a camp for internally displaced people persons (IDPs), and the Bishop’s residence in Aliandao Town came under attack from armed assailants. The Cathedral and the Bishop’s house were looted and the IDP camp was razed to the ground. Father Blaisé Mada, the vicar of the diocese of Alindao, and another priest was were killed in the attack and one priest remains missing.
The attack, which was reportedly carried out by the armed group Union pour la paix en Centrafrique (UPC), was retaliation for the killing of a Muslim man by the Anti-Balaka. The UN Humanitarian Coordinator Najat Rochdi expressed alarm for the community displaced by the attack, saying, ‘Everything was burned and [there is] a level of despair which is really heartbreaking.’
The UPC is part of the predominantly Muslim Seleka coalition that deposed then president François Bozizé in 2013. The conflict assumed a religious dimension as the Seleka leader Michel Djotodia was installed as president, but failed to effectively disband and disarm the armed groups. Severe and sustained abuses led to the rise of the Anti-Balaka groups, largely composed of former soldiers, angry youths, and, increasingly, common criminals. In anti-Balaka held regions, Christians and animist communities are generally freer to worshipface fewer daily restrictions, but Muslims have been attacked and those defending them, including, clergy, threatened with violence.
Attacks on the Coptic community persist in parts of Upper Egypt, and the lives and rights of ordinary Egyptians continue to be impacted by the government’s counter terrorism strategy. Together, let’s cover Egypt in prayer this week.
Sunday 9 December
But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5:24)
Monday 10 December
The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
Tuesday 11 December
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
Wednesday 12 December
May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. (Psalm 20:1)
Thursday 13 December
I can do all things through God who gives me strength.
Friday 14 December
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Saturday 15 December
Lord God, we commit the country of Egypt to you and ask you to watch over all its people: particularly Christians. We know that you are a God who answers when he is called upon, who can grant protection and strength in abundance: we ask that you grant this to Copts in Egypt today. Amen