While tensions grow on the border between Russia and Ukraine, Christians around the U.S. are burdened for the people of Ukraine as they hunker down in fear of invasion — yet one thing to remember is that there are people on both sides that need our prayers. Christ doesn’t label us based on what country we live in or by the color of our skin.
Having served the people of Eastern Europe for more than 60 years, we have many Christian brothers and sisters who live on either side of various political borders, but their primary allegiance is to Christ. Furthermore, there are people on both sides of the conflict that need to hear about Jesus and have access to God’s Word.
We have seen plenty of examples here in the U.S. of groups putting labels on people so that they can have a category for them, and not have to take the time to get to know them or hear their stories and perspectives. Not only is that just lazy, but it’s outside of God’s will for us as His followers. Now, because of the news headlines and the people in power, I fear we’ll start to label Ukrainians as “good” and Russians as “bad.” But many citizens of Russia are against the war and are themselves victims of the authoritarian government.
We would like to call on believers across the U.S. to join us in interceding in prayer on behalf of Russia and Ukraine. We need to join together and ask God to intervene in the lives of leaders and people across these nations.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 offers a pointed proclamation about the importance of praying for leaders: "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."
Here are just 5 suggested themes to pray over and intercede for the people of both Ukraine and Russia:
- Pray for the leaders of both countries to know God’s truth and peace and be transformed by his Holy Spirit, and that they would seek to lead their countries in the way of peace and not war.
- Ask God to intervene. Pray for wisdom as world leaders maneuver, strategize and speak out. Pray that God would move in their hearts and guide their steps and plans.
- Pray for peace, comfort, and protection to cover the people of Russia and Ukraine.
- Ask to see God’s glory amid this great struggle. Pray that God would be glorified through the people of Russia and Ukraine who are following Him.
- Ask for open doors of opportunities for the Gospel to be shared and received. Pray that God would make His name known across Ukraine and Russia as the result of any conflict. Pray that the people of Ukraine and Russia will still have access to God's Word.
As we pray for leaders of all nations and for the people who will be affected by this current crisis, Ephesians 6:12 offers a reminder about where the real battle unfolds: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Thank you for joining me in prayer, and may God convict any of us who are tempted to label one another and allow that to determine our behavior toward them. Let’s commit anew to loving one another and seeing them for who they really are, no matter where they live, what language they speak, or what color their skin.
Dirk Smith is the Vice President of Eastern European Mission, which has been delivering God’s Word to the people of Eastern Europe since 1961. They were able to provide 1.5 million Bibles and Bible-based materials in the region in 2021, including in public schools in Croatia, Romania and Ukraine. Learn more at www.eem.org.