Wrestling in prayer


Right now it feels particularly easy to be overwhelmed and stunned by the pain and darkness that the world – and too often children – seem to face in new forms every day.

News headlines such as those reporting children ripped from their parents at borders, and girls exploited by those sent to help them, break our hearts and instill a feeling of hopelessness.

No matter how much we pray, give and work towards a bringing hope, we are often met with the uneasy feeling that nothing we’re doing is making a difference…

This is exactly how Patrick McDonald, Viva’s founder, was feeling when he was in Bolivia back in 1991, helping orphaned street children. One night was particularly traumatic, and in his memoirs, Patrick writes:

“Exhausted I sat down on a low concrete wall, knees under my chin and wept. I was part of the only project in town doing anything at all about the overwhelming need facing these kids. Their needs were immense and our resources minuscule. At that moment I was gripped with a ‘heart of despair’… I turned to pray to the God I knew and loved, a God who calls himself the ‘father of the fatherless’ the ‘defender of orphans’ and I inquired with new urgency and loudness ‘what is the plan?’; ‘How Lord, do you hope to meet the needs of these children in my lifetime..?'”

We have a long tradition of demanding a response from God (see particularly Daniel 9:1-19). Our scripture doesn’t tell us to just sit down, stay quiet and accept that the world is awful. It tells us we can wrestle and question. It tells us to care for the orphan and the widow. It tells us to do justice and love mercy.

It may not ever be possible to understand why it feels like God is letting the world fall apart, but that doesn’t mean we just accept that evil exists and that that will simply always be the way. God invites us to wrestle.

At the moment, at least three of our networks are in the midst of very fragile, violent political situations, placing thousands of children at even greater risk. We ask you to plead, wrestle, question and petition with us to our Father this month specifically for…

… an end to the deadly ongoing violence on the streets of Nicaragua.

Please pray for the Nicaraguan network which has been forced to halt its activities, particularly due to the unrest and violence on the streets of Managua. Pray especially for the young people and children drawn into protests who are targeted by unsympathetic and violent officials. Pray for peace and truth to drive out the darkness in this nation. Our network consultant in the region has had to cancel his planned visit, and says: “It is a dangerous situation. Young people who are protesting against the government are being identified by police, taking from their homes and killed.”

… an end to the seeds of a violent political situation in Zimbabwe.

General elections are scheduled to be held there on 30 July, and there was a bomb at a rally recently which was hosted by the ruling president Cde Emerson Mnangagwa, thought to be an attempt on his life. Two people died and more than 40 were hurt in the explosion on Saturday. Petition our Father that this would be the only outbreak of violence, as Zimbabweans are fearing the worst; that violence will mar the elections and that this may only be the beginning. Please also continue to pray for the Viva Network Zimbabwe team, and particularly for peace and for the safety of children and families.

….a peaceful transition of power during the elections in Cambodia.

Please pray for protection for the Peace Team Cambodia network as the general elections also take place in July. During this time, there are usually major disruptions and violence as the ruling party uses intimidation to be forcibly elected again. This means there is the very real potential that children we work with will be harmed and that programmes attempting to protect them will be stopped. As Christians are a minority group they are often socially persecuted, and particularly in political situations end up scapegoated by other groups. Please hold them in your prayers over the next few weeks.

A closing prayer based on Daniel 9:17-19

Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your people. For your sake, Lord, look with favour on your creation.

Listen, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the world that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.

Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your world and your people bear your Name.


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