Over the last few months, the world has been watching tragic stories of refugees fleeing the Middle East. Today marks five years since the start of the Syrian Civil War and in that time, more than 4.7 million people have fled violence in the country and 6.6 million more have been internally displaced.
I suspect that many of us feel overwhelmed by the incredible need of the refugee population right now. It hurts my heart to see so many people struggling to simply find a safe place to lay their heads at night. I can’t even imagine some of the horrors they’ve had to go through, just because of where they were born and where they live.
It’s hard to know how to really help. I’ve donated money to organizations helping those in need, I’ve spoken to my political representatives about helping, but I want to do more. What else can I do?
While I read about the refugee crisis, I’m prompted to give and advocate, but I sometimes forget that prayer is a powerful way to help, as well. I can pray for peace. I can pray for protection. I can pray for our leaders to open their hearts and our borders to take in those fleeing unimaginable circumstances. I can pray for safety. I can pray for changed hearts. I can pray.
Along with giving and raising awareness, please pray with me. God is our ultimate help in these times of uncertainty. Prayer can make all the difference.
Here are some ideas on how you can pray (or join me in this guided prayer). Do not let this moment pass without praying something. Together our voices make a difference. Let God hear our souls cry out for those in need.
Pray for the Refugee Community
Take a moment to consider the individual people, the families and the communities that have been torn apart by war and economic hardship. Try to place yourself in such a situation, just for a minute.
Think what it might mean for you to leave everything behind and travel to a new place in the hope that you may be able to find peace for yourself and your family. You’d have to start over from scratch, but at least you’d be alive. You would be trying not to dwell on everything you saw and hoping the nightmares would go away in time.
People are living that reality right now.
Take a moment to pray for safety for refugees. Pray for safe passage over land and sea. Pray for protection from those who would take advantage of them. Pray that human traffickers and ISIS rebels would be kept at bay. Pray for shelter and good weather as they make their journeys. Pray for God to instill hope into a seemingly hopeless situation.
Pray for the Caregivers
Countless people have given money, time and space in their homes to help create safe passage and ease of transition for these refugees. The sacrifices many have made to help others truly astounds me and helps restore my faith in the goodness of humanity amid the crisis.
Pray blessings of peace and love over those providing assistance. Pray for strength as they hear heart-wrenching stories, bandage wounds and provide care. Pray that enough resources are available to help any and every refugee caregivers encounter. Pray for protection and the knowledge that their kindness and love is not going unnoticed.
Pray for Political Leaders
In a time where budgets are tight and political leaders are under strain, it can be incredibly tempting to ignore those most in need. Power and greed can be irresistible, and assisting refugees fulfill neither. To help a refugee is a singularly selfless act.
Pray for wisdom for our world leaders, that they would open borders and find ways to help refugees fleeing from war. Pray for freedom from pride, greed and political trappings. Pray for open eyes and hearts to find ways to best assist the refugee populations around the world.
Pray for Boldness
Then you have us. Sitting here, staring at our computers/smart phones at a loss for what to do. We have voices. We should use them.
Pray for God to show you how you can best offer assistance. Pray for a lack of complacency. Pray for courage and tenacity to seek change in a system that favors profit over people. Ask God to remove any apathy you may feel toward those in need.
Pray for daily reminders that each individual is a person with hopes and dreams and a future. Pray for guidance to become the servant God has called each and everyone one of us to be. Pray for God’s love to flow through you and to those in need. Pray for the boldness to do what is right even when it’s not easy.
Pray for Peace
God is the God of peace. We can talk. We can beseech one another. We can make treaties and sign papers, but God—God is true peace.
Pray for God’s hand to be upon situations fraught with discord and anger and hatred. Ask God to put His calming hand upon the hearts of those who are sowing animosity among people groups. Pray for His love to descend upon the battlefields, so that understanding and enlightenment causes those who were harming families and communities to set down their instruments of war in favor of seeds and plows and bricks and mortar in an effort to rebuild.
Please call your government representative via the switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or visit house.gov and senate.gov to find the direct line to urge them to support Syrian refugee assistance.
This article has been updated from an earlier version posted in October 2015.
is an activist and writer living in Portland, Oregon.