A guide for individuals, groups and churches to pray for peace in Ukraine and around the world.
How to pray for Ukraine
When faced with a crisis like the conflict in Ukraine, it can be hard to know how to pray. But the desire to pray itself is a great place to start. This guide is divided into two sections: the first giving you suggestions about what to pray for, and the second providing different creative prayer ideas for you and your church, group or family to use.
What to pray for…
There are five areas we can focus our prayers on: for people affected by the violence; for those in leadership positions; for God’s power and love to be revealed through the church; for the wider global impact; and for peace.
Pray for people affected by the violence
- That people still in Ukraine will be protected from the violence; that there will be provision of essential supplies, such as food and clean water. Pray for vulnerable people who cannot flee, for example those with disabilities or the elderly.
- That refugees will find safe places to stay. There are reports that some people are being discriminated against on racial grounds – pray that there will be compassion and support for all.
- For healing for people who are wounded or have experienced trauma; and comfort for those who are grieving.
Pray for those in positions of leadership
- That leaders on both sides will be filled with compassion, wisdom, calm and a desire for peace.
- That world leaders will balance responding to the injustice of the invasion with seeking ways to build bridges, de-escalate tensions, and restore global security.
Pray for the church
- That the church in the Ukraine, Russia and across the wider region will be a voice for peace; and that they will have the resources they need to help people who are vulnerable.
- That the church and other organizations around the world will have the courage and conviction to speak out against aggression and injustice.
- That God’s power will be revealed through the church in this situation – bringing a message of love and hope in the midst of the darkness.
Pray for the global impact
- The crisis in Ukraine is already leading to a significant rise in the price of food and fuel. It is likely that this will get worse. Economically poorer countries are disproportionately affected by shocks such as this. Pray that food and fuel prices will stabilize, and that provision will be made for countries in a vulnerable position.
Pray for peace
- That there will be an immediate end to the violence – that peace will come sooner than anyone could have expected or hoped for.
- That diplomatic solutions will be found that will lead to lasting peace in the region.
- That people who have fled will be able to return home, and that what has been destroyed will be rebuilt.
- For strength for individuals and organizations in Ukraine, Russia and the region who are working for peace at local, national and regional levels.
Ways to pray…
Listed below are five different ways of praying that you can use as you pray for Ukraine. These are fasting; using a written prayer; praying with a map; baking Ukrainian bread; and lighting a candle. These can be done on your own or as part of a group.
Pray by fasting
Fasting is a form of prayer that’s been around for thousands of years. It involves purposefully giving up something that you’ll miss in order to shape your focus.
- First, choose what to fast from. Food is the most common choice, but you could also fast from TV or social media. Make sure you consider your health and consult a doctor if needed.
- Then, decide how long you want to fast. Challenge yourself but don’t be unrealistic. You could start with missing just one or two meals on a particular day, then repeat that on the same day each week.
- Use the time that you would have spent preparing and eating food, or scrolling through social media, to focus on God. When you notice that you’re longing for whatever it is you’re fasting from, use it as a reminder to focus on one of the areas of prayer listed above.
- If you’re doing this as a church or a small group, think of ways you can encourage each other throughout the day. This could be by sending each other Bible verses or sharing what God has been speaking to you.
Pray using scripture
The Bible can help guide us in prayer – especially in tough situations when it can be difficult to find the right words.
Choose one of the following passages of scripture to read through, or pick your own: Matthew 6:6-13; Isaiah 61:1-4; or Luke 6:20-26.
- Slowly read the passage through and familiarise yourself with it.
- Read it for a second time. You may want to speak it out loud. Think about the specific needs of the people in Ukraine, those who have fled and the role of the church in this region.
- Before reading it for a third time, pause and ask the Holy Spirit to highlight a word or line to you. Ask God why this was highlighted for you. Continue to listen to God and to the Holy Spirit. This may be through pictures, words or more scripture. If praying as a group, share with each other how God is speaking.
- End by thanking God for working in and through you.
Pray with a map
Use an internet search engine, globe or an atlas to find a map of Ukraine. Google Maps can be a useful tool for this.
As you look at the map, invite the Holy Spirit to reveal a particular location to you. This could be a particular town, area, or border.
Once you have chosen somewhere, lay your hand above it on the map. Pray for that location and the people there. Ask God to reveal specific things you can pray for, or use the first part of this guide to help.
If doing this activity as a group, you could take it in turns to choose a location to pray over. If you’re using a physical map, you could keep it up as a reminder to pray and add Post-it notes throughout the week.
Pray by baking bread
Bread is often regarded as sacred in Ukrainian culture. Ukraine is an incredibly fertile nation – producing nearly 10 per cent of the world’s wheat. Bread and salt placed on an embroidered towel is a symbol of welcome there.
Bread is an important part of Christian celebrations in the country. At Easter, for example, families bake a Paska loaf, then take it to church to be blessed before going home to eat it.
As a prayerful act of solidarity with Ukraine, you could bake a loaf of bread. You could use a traditional Ukrainian recipe, or your own. This is a great activity to do with your family or a church group.
Once you have baked the bread, place it on a tea towel. Lay your hands over it and say a prayer for Ukrainian families. Break the bread with your hands (in many Eastern European and Central Asian cultures bread is too sacred to be cut with a knife), then say another prayer for peace in the region.
Pray by lighting a candle
Jesus is the light of the world. Amid the darkness of conflict in Ukraine and around the world, lighting a candle can become a powerful symbol of an eternal truth: love is stronger than hate.
Find a quiet place where you can relax and light a candle safely. If you can, turn off all other lights. Part of prayer is listening out for how God is already at work – the following activity can help with this. You can do this alone, or have someone lead a group through the practice.
- Welcome God’s presence. This could be by saying ‘God, you are here’ as you breathe in, ‘and I am here with you,’ as you breathe out.
- Spend time in thanksgiving for who you know God to be. You may want to play a worship song during this time, or read passages from the Bible about God’s goodness and mercy.
- Ask God to reveal to you how he is already at work in Ukraine. Be open to hearing God through pictures, scripture or words. You may want to write these down or paint a response. Commit what God is saying to prayer.
- If you’re with other people, set a time limit for the above and create space to feedback and encourage one another, before returning to pray.
- End with another time of thanksgiving for what God has shared. Commit to continuing to join in with God to bring his Kingdom.
Thank you for joining us in prayer for Ukraine. The prayer activities above can also be used to pray for other conflicts around the world. Let’s continue to pray and act together on behalf of people suffering the effects of violence everywhere.
Written by Gideon Heugh and Rachael Adams | Originally published by Tearfund UK on March 1, 2022