Weekly Prayers from CCOW
For your prayers Holy Week & Easter
GOOD FRIDAY -- Persecutors and the Persecuted
In the readings for Good Friday we read about the suffering of the Messiah. This saving work of Good Friday offers hope for those who are suffering torture around the world that their pain is seen and known and shared by God. It is also an offer of hope to the torturers that forgiveness and restoration are possible.
Please pray for:
· Those suffering torture or in fear of torture in North Korea, Syria, Sri Lanka, Bahrain, Egypt and Colombia. Pray for their safety, and that they will not feel forgotten and alone. (See below)
· Our own government and those of the US, Canada and other Western democracies, as they confront their possible complicity in torture (or even use of it) and grapple with their obligations to people deemed at risk of torture if deported or handed over to others.
· Those who torture. Pray that they will not be bound to a path of violence, but will see opportunities for a different way of peace and reconciliation.
You might wish to use the Action by Christians against Torture prayer, which reads:
Places for Prayer:
· North Korea. The recent UN inquiry report has documented the extent of the abuses heaped upon North Korean citizens. Children remain imprisoned from birth, pregnant women in labour camps may be executed or undergo forced abortions and there is regular imprisonment, torture and execution of entire families including children on spurious charges. Satellite maps show that labour camps are expanding, and the UN report suggests that political arrests have increased in recent months.
· Syria. The use of torture by both government and non-government actors against perceived enemies, including peace protesters, human rights defenders and relief workers, was recently described by the UN as “widespread and systematic.”
· Bahrain. Protesters as young as 13 are being detained and tortured in Bahrain’s prisons and Juvenile Centres. Accusations of blindfolding, beating and rapes have all been recorded by Amnesty International. Human Rights Watch has reported accounts of beatings with electrified rods and prisoners being subject to “waterboarding”.
· Egypt. Protestors against the government, both Muslim and Christian, have accused the police of rape and torture whilst in detention. Amnesty International reports that proposed anti-terror legislation will make protesters more vulnerable to detention, torture and even the death penalty.
· Prayer: Torturers often try to silence others, which is why remembering and sharing the stories of victims of torture is vital. Why not look at Human Rights Watch’s report for 2014, choose a country and pray for the people/situations mentioned?
· Writing: Help the work of Action by Christians against Torture by writing letters of petition.
GOOD FRIDAY -- Power, Corruption and Transparency
· that all leaders may have the strength and courage to do what is right, rather than being motivated primarily by political expedience or desire for power or gain.
· especially for those places where leaders are seeking to hold onto their power unjustly, creating situations in which government and the public good are subsidiary to their private interests … even creating civil war. Pray that such leaders’ hearts may be softened, and that justice may triumph over injustice.
All-powerful God, who for love of humanity became a powerless child,
Further Formal Prayers: You might wish to use or adapt some of the material from the Sanctuary Centre’s “Prayers for the Restoration of Integrity in public life – UK”
Please also pray for continued progress on measures that will tackle one of the greatest barriers to good governance, the lack of transparency in extractive industries. This lack of transparency can lead public officials to use their posts as a path to illegitimate enrichment … and to be very unwilling to cede power.
Background on Transparency: Give thanks for the passage of the European Transparency and Accounting directives, which require EU-listed companies in the extractive industries to publish what they pay on a country-by-country and project-by-project basis. This enables people to trace the funds more accurately and can help combat corruption. Pray for those working to ensure that the legislation is effectively implemented by member states.
Give thanks for movements towards similar legislation in other jurisdictions, including Canada and Norway, and for the adoption of a new Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative standard. Pray that the G20 will take further action on extractive industry transparency and beneficial ownership transparency. Pray especially for the US’s work in this area: the success of an American Petroleum Institute lawsuit that attacked the Securities and Exchange Commission’s rigorous implementation of transparency legislation has left great uncertainty.
Bread, Wine, Water
This is particularly true for people in conflict areas. At present, there are crisis-level (or worse) food situations in northeastern Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Yemen, Somalia and on the borders of Sudan and South Sudan. In addition both within and outside Syria, many victims of the Syrian conflict are facing hunger and difficulties accessing clean water, as are people in camps for the displaced in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
In the Central African Republic, for example, conflict has led to a decline of more than 1/3rd in agricultural production, the destruction of infrastructure, and the flight of the Muslim traders who were vital to local trading systems. As a result, in many parts of the country less food is available, and prices have increased, although people don’t have the money to pay them. As one trader noted, “People cry when they come to the market.”
The consequences are serious. Health care practitioners are reporting that the number of children needing treatment for malnutrition has doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled in places. Sarah Shepherd, a paediatrician with the World Food Programme notes: “It’s not surprising … People have been uprooted from their homes. They’ve lost their jobs. Health care centres don’t function. Kids get sick. Mothers can’t get their kids to healthcare. They don’t have the money to buy food, even if the food was available on the market. And that creates this perfect storm … and already we’re in a country with one of the highest child mortality rates in the world.”
The situation in South Sudan is also very worrying. The UN estimates that more than 800,000 people are displaced. The World Food Programme has already given over 500,000 people food aid, and hopes to reach 2 million more. More aid is unquestionably necessary. Joseph El Haj Loabe, the Acting Manager of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan’s development agency, recently told the Anglican Alliance: "Because food assistance to displaced people has not been enough, people have been walking to the major cities to conjure up any available food, that lasts a day or two. Some pluck leaves off trees and boil them to eat."
Please pray for people who are unable to access sufficient food or clean water because of conflict and for all who are working to provide humanitarian relief.
Please also pray:
Lord Jesus, you revealed the new covenant
Further Reading: Conflict is one of many factors that contributes to hunger. Others include the impact of biofuels targets, failure to give sufficient support to smallholder farmers, and changes in the weather that result from a changing climate. Some of the best summaries of the various issues remain the IF Campaign’s policy report, Food for Life, A Theological Paper from the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance and Christian Aid’s Hungry for Justice. The latest IPCC report had a section which emphasised the risks climate change posed to access to food, and the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Programme of CGIAR is a mine of information.
Action Points: What can you do to help those who have difficulties in accessing food or water? Consider:
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Do you have expertise in any of the areas touched on in this week's prayers ? If so, we'd love to hear from you with comments, thoughts or suggestions! Please do email us.