A prayer guide to help individuals, groups and churches to pray for COP27 – the United Nations climate talks.
The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP27, is going to be held from 6–18 November in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Global leaders will be coming together to discuss how the world can tackle the climate crisis.
Prayer makes a difference, so we’d love you to join us as we pray for these crucial talks. This guide is divided into two sections: the first gives you suggestions about what to pray for, and the second provides different creative prayer ideas for you and your church, group or family to use.
Join us in prayer
As Christians, we have a biblical mandate to care for our neighbors and for the environment. One of the brilliant things about COP26 in Glasgow last year was the growing movement of Christians joining us in prayer and action to highlight climate change. This is an issue which people living in poverty have done the least to cause, but are suffering the most from.
And the movement bore fruit: almost 40 nations and institutions committed to end overseas public finance for coal, oil, and gas by the end of 2022. However, there is so much more to be done.
Ahead of COP27, let us rise up again, together as the church, for our global neighbors.
Kuki Rokhum, who works for our local partner in India, joins our Tearfund team and thousands of Christians in a day of action march during COP26 in Scotland last year | Image credit: Chris Hoskins/Tearfund
What to pray for…
There are four areas we can focus our prayers on. Firstly, for the conference itself. Secondly, for the outcomes we’d like to see. Thirdly, for people affected by the climate crisis. And finally, for the church to take action for this cause.
Pray for the conference itself
- Pray that the voices and concerns of African communities will be heard at COP27 and be effective at influencing change.
- Pray for wisdom and energy for Tearfund’s global staff team who will be attending the conference; ask God for opportunities for them to speak up for people living in poverty and to influence change.
- Ask God for favorable media coverage of the conference so that even more people will hear the concerns of people affected by the climate crisis – and what changes are needed.
Pray for the outcomes we’d like to see
- Pray that leaders of high-income countries will turn words into actions and be held to account for their agreement to limit global heating to a relatively safer limit of 1.5°C.
- Pray that wealthier countries will honor the pledge they made at previous UN climate talks to provide money for helping lower-income countries adapt to the climate crisis, so they don’t have to divert crucial money meant for healthcare and other vital public services. Ask God for this money to reach communities affected by climate change who need it most.
- Pray that even more countries will commit to ending funding for fossil fuels overseas. Ask God that those who have committed to ending funding will implement these plans with integrity.
Pray for people affected by the climate crisis
- Pray for comfort and protection for communities that are facing longer droughts and devastating flooding due to the climate crisis.
- Lift up people who are finding it increasingly difficult to earn an income and feed their families due to the changing weather conditions caused by climate change. Pray for provision of nourishing food, rainfall where it is needed, and blessings for their next harvest.
- Longer droughts are causing local water sources to dry up, forcing people – mainly women and children – to make dangerous journeys to collect water, which is unsafe to drink. Flooding is bringing dirty water and diseases to communities. Pray for provision of safe water for all in need and for healing from diseases brought on by unclean water.
Pray for the church to take action
- Pray for churches around the world to be committed to praying and speaking out on climate change and how to care for our global neighbors. Ask God to bless them with creativity and energy in how they can raise awareness of this issue in their congregations and communities.
- Ask God for people to be inspired by the church coming together to raise awareness of this issue; pray it leads to good conversations and that God will be glorified.
Monsoon floods on an unimaginable scale devastated Pakistan this year, leaving a third of the country under water. The climate crisis is making disasters like this more frequent and more severe – and it is people living in poverty suffering the most | Image credit: PAK Mission Society
Ways to pray
Listed below are five ways you can creatively pray for COP27. These are: praying using scripture; praying using a map; pray while making a lifestyle change; going on a prayer walk; and writing a prayer of hope.
Pray using scripture
Scripture can help remind us of who God is and what he has called us to do.
The following passages highlight God’s heart for justice and how he desires us to care for our global neighbors and for the wider environment. Speak them out loud and pray that the scripture will direct world leaders attending COP27 in how they engage in the talks and the commitments they will make:
‘The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.’ (Genesis 2:15)
‘Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.’ (1 Chronicle 29:11)
‘And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ (Micah 6:8)
‘Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.’ (Proverbs 14:31)
Pray using a map
Using a map or a globe, invite the Holy Spirit to reveal a particular country to you that is attending COP27.
Once you have chosen somewhere, lay your hand above it on the map. Lift up those who will be representing the country at the conference and pray for wisdom and openness to engage with the conference. Ask God to reveal specific things you can pray for, or use prayer points in this guide to help.
Reflect on the ways this country is experiencing the impacts of the climate crisis and pray for those who are most impacted.
If doing this activity as a group, you could take turns choosing a location to pray over.
Make a change for the climate… and pray while doing it
There are simple changes you could make during COP27 that help tackle climate change. When we come together to make changes like these, it can have a real impact. Commit to one or more of these during COP27. As you then carry out these activities, spend time in prayer for COP27 using our prayer points above.
- Where possible, walk, cycle or get public transport instead of using a car.
- Eat less meat or eat meat sourced locally.
- Only drink fairtrade tea or coffee.
- Cut down on single-use plastic; only use a refillable water bottle.
Families in Borena, Ethiopia, dig deep in search of water. It’s getting more difficult as the drought – made worse by climate change – has caused water sources to dry up. Millions of people are going hungry each day in the country | Image credit: Ayaana/Tearfund
Go on a prayer walk
Getting outside and going for a walk can give you a new perspective, and the things you come across during your walk can also prompt and guide your prayers. If you or anyone in your group struggles with walking, you may want to choose a location, such as a park, that has benches so that everyone can join in.
Stop and spend some time enjoying the nature around you. If you brought a camera with you, try to find something new or unusual to capture. Praise God for his wonderful creation. Focus on the weather, plants, and the conditions they need to grow and flourish. If you can, listen to a worship song as you do this.
Lament for the ways in which we have destroyed and damaged our world instead of protecting it, and the impact that is having on some of the world’s poorest people. Pray for people who are suffering from the effects of the climate crisis. Ask God to bless those at COP27 who are speaking up for people living in poverty and pray their voices and concerns will be heard.
Write a prayer of hope with God
Praying about the climate crisis can seem overwhelming; many of us can feel climate anxiety when we reflect upon the devastation that climate change is causing. It can help to fix our eyes on God, who will sustain us and give us the strength we need to continue to pray and act to help protect our global neighbors and the environment from further destruction.
- Find a place where you won’t be disturbed.
- Welcome God’s presence.
- Read the following Bible verse about hope and God’s faithfulness to people living in poverty. ‘But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.’ (Psalm 9:18)
- Read it again, but this time ask God to highlight a word or phrase to you for COP27. Ask God to reveal why he chose this for you. Spend some time listening and asking more questions if you want to.
- Using this word or phrase and what God has been speaking to you about, write a short prayer about COP27. Ask God to guide you.
- Stick this prayer somewhere where you’ll see it often – on your fridge, in your Bible, by the door – and commit to praying it regularly during COP27.
Thank you for joining us in prayer for COP27. Let us continue to pray and act on behalf of people suffering from the devastating effects of the climate crisis.
Story originally published on October 28, 2022, by Tearfund UK by Rachael Adams. Main Image: Chris Hoskins/ Tearfund