Why must we pray for Ukraine?

There is no doubt at all that we have all been shocked and horrified by the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian forces lead by Vladimir Putin. I am sure that like Iveta and I many of us in the Iwerne Valley benefice have wept at the scenes of tragedy portrayed on our Television screens shocked and bewildered at the cruelty and stupidity of it all. We have also wondered at the incredible bravery of the Ukrainian citizens, militia, and Army as they have made their stand against such overwhelming odds. We have wondered at how the ‘evil that people do’ can yet again raise its ugly head within our world.

The Church has, along with millions of others from all faiths and even with many who would normally profess to have no religious faith, collectively bowed it head and prayed in desperation and hope for God to bring peace, for God to influence the powers of evil that drive such events, for God to defeat them and establish his Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. We do this because within all faiths there is the acknowledgement that we live within a situation of spiritual tension between the forces of darkness / Evil and the forces of Good / God. This is certainly the belief of the Christian faith. The whole purpose, for example, of Christ’s temptation narratives as recorded within the New Testament was exactly to encourage his new Church to believe that he had won a significant victory over this corruption of evil within our world, providing in this victory a new power to counterbalance the influence and corruption of this evil, namely the power of the Holy Spirit released and activated through the prayers of his people.    

Modern secular thought of course would seek to place the blame for all that is wrong within the world exclusively on mankind, that is on our own selfishness, greed, pride, envy and stupidity. But within the teachings of Jesus and the N/T the causes of chaos are much wider than this. Both Jesus and the Apostle Paul are quite certain that even though humanities sinfulness does indeed carry with it a certain and significant amount of responsibility for all that is wrong in the world, there is also a deeper and Spiritual corruption which lies behind the evil that we do, the author and manager of which is Satan himself. As Christian’s we should consider and seriously that the Devil is a real entity who effects an active and negative influence within our world. Biblically speaking it is he who covertly influences men and women on a spiritual and subconscious level to do acts of evil, acts born out of anger, bitterness, pride, stupidity and jealousy, acts of hatred and envy and the terrible evils that we see and read about every day in our newspapers and witness on our television screens. We, that is humanity collectively, may be the front-line instigators of these acts but in Gospel terms we should acknowledge that there is also a deeper and negative spiritual influence driving humanity towards the chaos and destruction we see and at times very sadly experience ourselves.

As we currently look with absolute horror at the situation within Ukraine, we are seeing first-hand how this evil has found a foothold in 2022 through Vladimir Putin and his followers and how powerfully it is pushing this conflict into an ever-deepening expression of Evil. We must not of course take away any of the responsibility that clearly these evil men have in the execution of their current plans, there is no doubt that they are wholly responsible, co-operating with this evil as they clearly are, and biblically they will be judged by God, but  if we were to imagine that there were not a spiritual evil behind this chaos and destruction then we would, I believe, be missing a fundamental dynamic within the cosmic battle that exists between evil and the Kingdom of God and that is of course why we must pray against these spiritual forces calling on God to continue to inspire the good within people hearts to resist this tyranny, praying in the hope that in the end good will overcome and that justice will prevail and that peace will return.

The Church believes then that prayer releases the power of God through the actions of his Holy Spirit we may not be able to pick up arms to fight physically but we can pray and fight spiritually and not underestimate its power. We can and should also of course offer care, love and comfort, support and goodness, help, hope and practical love at every opportunity in the name of our God who is Love.