Gunmen attack a restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh: 24 people killed, more than 50 wounded.
Coordinated bomb attacks rock Baghdad, Iraq: 342 people killed, more than 100 wounded.
A truck plows through a crowded promenade on French National Day in Nice, France: 85 people killed, more than 300 wounded.
Two suicide bombers targeting Hazaras in Afghanistan detonate their vests at a gathering in Kabul, Afghanistan: 80 killed, more than 260 wounded.
That’s just a small sampling of the terror attacks that took place around the world this past July. Every one of those numbers has a name. Every name represents a life.
“Although most of us understand the impulse to publicly curse terrorism, that alone likely won’t bring people closer to God’s blessing of security and peace.”
Although terror has left its violent mark on nearly every country, its prevalence in Turkey in 2016 is making an indelible impression. In June, terrorists opened fire at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul before detonating explosives, killing forty-two people and wounding more than two hundred. A few weeks earlier, during the height of Istanbul’s morning rush hour, a car bomb tore through a crowded area, killing eleven people and wounding dozens more.
Almost immediately, Turks began venting their grief and fury on Twitter. Only hours after the car bombing, the hashtag #terörelanetolsun, which means, “May terrorism be cursed,” was the top trending hashtag in the world, racking up more than seventy thousand tweets.
Although most of us understand the impulse to publicly curse terrorism, that alone likely won’t bring people closer to God’s blessing of security and peace. Many grasp for an appropriate response but remain unsatisfied with #PrayFor trends on Twitter. Indifference becomes difficult to fight when one terror attack seems to blend into the next. We often feel frustrated and helpless, or maybe we’re tempted to lash out or to give up, to feel angry or to feel numb. But as Christians, we have something powerful and proactive to do. We can pray.
If you want to do more than click social media buttons when headlines of terrorism hit your newsfeed, Christians in Central Asia have suggested six ways you can pray no matter where terrorism strikes next.
1. Pray for the Lord to have mercy on the heartbroken.
Pray for those grieving the loss of beloved family members and friends. Pray for the wounded. Ask the Lord to preserve their lives so they can find life in Christ. Pray that the Lord will be near to the brokenhearted and save those crushed in spirit (Ps. 34:18).
2. Pray for first responders, peacekeepers, and government officials.
Pray that politicians and police forces will be calm in the midst of crisis. Ask the Lord to grant them wisdom to respond in a way that will not increase tension and escalate violence. May they guard the paths of justice, watch over the vulnerable, understand righteousness, and walk in every good path (Prov. 2:6–11).
3. Pray for local believers living in the area where the terror attack occurred.
Pray for the churches that continue to gather faithfully and courageously in the face of security threats. Pray for the Lord to comfort pastors as they shepherd those in their fellowships. Pray that local churches will display the character of Christ and that their light will shine into their communities. May they be strengthened with power, endurance, and joy (Col. 1:11–12).
4. Pray for bold and gracious gospel proclamation.
Pray for Christians to be bold to share the gospel with family and friends during turbulent times. Ask God to use these terrible situations for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. May they speak the Word with boldness even when they feel anxious or threatened, and may they trust in the Lord as their shield and refuge (Acts 4:23–31).
5. Pray for reconciliation.
Pray that Christians will lead the way in demonstrating that peace is possible through unity in Christ. May they embrace the ministry of reconciliation as ambassadors for Christ, who makes all things new (2 Cor. 5:17–21).
6. Pray that faith will overcome fear.
Pray that Christians worldwide won’t allow the fear of terrorism to inhibit them from loving different cultures and traveling to share the gospel. Pray for God to give the global church the unshakeable faith that he is with us as we are obedient and faithful to take the good news to all peoples (Matt. 10:26–33).
If you would like to pray in an informed way for some of the places where terror attacks have occurred this year, you will find the following prayer guides for Turkey and Afghanistan inspiring. Thank you for your faithful partnership in the gospel through the ministry of prayer.
Afghanistan Prayer Guide: Prayers for the Healing of a Country