A guide to help you pray for people affected by the crisis in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Somalia.
The worst drought in 40 years has led to harvests withering away; the invasion of Ukraine has caused the price of food imports to skyrocket; local conflicts have forced millions of people from their homes, and flash floods have been washing away what little is left.
This prayer guide for East Africa is divided into two sections: the first gives suggestions on what to pray for, and the second provides different creative prayer ideas for you and your church, group, or family to use.
Lucia* from Uganda was forced to drop out of school to help her mother feed her family. | Image credit: Stewart Muchapera/Tearfund
What to pray for…
There are five areas we can focus our prayers on: for people affected by hunger and water shortages; for those in leadership positions; for God’s provision and love to be revealed through the church; for vulnerable adults and children; and for peace.
Pray for people affected by hunger and water shortages
- Pray for the provision of nourishing food and clean water for those in need.
- Pray for healing for those who are suffering from malnutrition and hunger. Pray that they will feel God’s love and comfort surrounding them. Pray that there will be no long-term side effects or medical conditions due to hunger.
- Ask God to bring the rainfall that is needed to parts of Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. Pray that this will lead to abundant harvests and for water sources to spring up again closer to communities.
Pray for world leaders and politicians
- Pray that food and fuel prices will stabilize and that provisions will be made for countries in a vulnerable position.
- Pray that the UK Government will urgently commit £750 million for humanitarian and development work in the region. Ask God to convict the UK Government to use their influence to persuade other rich countries to commit funding and aid.
- Pray for Tearfund staff as they meet with UK MPs so they can better understand the challenges facing the region, understand what Tearfund and the local church is doing, and the crucial part they can play in alleviating the crisis.
Pray for the church
- Pray for the church in the UK to speak out against the injustice of the hunger crisis and for it to use its influence to persuade the UK Government to take action.
- Pray that God’s power will be revealed through the church across East Africa – that it will bring a message of hope amid the suffering.
- Pray for our local church partners as they respond, and pray that the entire church in East Africa will be resourced to serve people who are suffering. Pray for church leaders – who are often struggling with the effects of hunger themselves. Ask God to strengthen and protect them as they live out God’s call to care for people in need.
Pray for vulnerable children and adults
- The crisis has led to an increase in child marriages. In their desperation, parents are marrying off their daughters to wealthier families in the hope that they’ll have a better chance of survival. Pray for protection for these girls. Ask that they will be valued as God’s precious daughters by their communities.
- Pray for a generation of children who are missing out on their education because parents cannot afford their school fees. Others are missing school because they are having to travel to collect water instead, or are simply too hungry to attend.
- Pregnant and nursing mothers, people with disabilities, and the elderly are especially vulnerable to food shortages. Pray for God’s protection and provision over them.
Pray for peace
- The shortages of resources, including food, is making the conflict worse in Ethiopia and leading to renewed conflict in other places. Pray for people’s safety and for peace to reign.
- Pray for an end to the conflict in Ukraine, which is having a huge effect on the price of essential food supplies such as flour and cooking oil.
A map of East Africa | Image credit: Joseph Cobb/Tearfund
Ways to pray…
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 – such as those in East Africa. Pray for people who are suffering due to the effects of the climate crisis. Ask God what you can do to make a difference.
Pray using a map
Using our map above, invite the Holy Spirit to reveal a particular location to you. This could be a particular town or country in East Africa.
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 prayer points in this guide to help.
If doing this activity as a group, you could take turns choosing a location to pray over.
You can right click on the image of the map, save it to your computer and print it off. You can then keep it up as a reminder to pray for East Africa during your week.
Write a psalm
The Psalms are full of prayers and songs of lament: of pain and hurt. Of crying out to God in the dark of the night, wondering if the sun will ever rise again. They can help us to verbalize our disappointment, desperation, and anger at the world around us – such as the injustice that so many people are going hungry right now in East Africa. David, who wrote many of the Psalms, even voiced his anger at God himself (Psalm 13, Psalm 79).
Begin by reading some of the Psalms to help you find the words to bring to God (Psalm 130). Then, write your own psalm of lament to God over this crisis. Ask God to move in power to help end this crisis.
‘I had twenty camels. Now I have one camel, because of the drought,’ Chaltu*, from Ethiopia, tells us. ‘We have been faced with a lot of problems.’ Chaltu has beens struggling to find food and water for ten months – please be praying for people like her | Image credit: Leonilo Endoso/Tearfund
Thank you for joining us in prayer for East Africa. Let’s continue to pray and act together on behalf of people suffering from hunger.
Story originally published on June 10, 2022, by Tearfund UK by Rachael Adams. Main Image: Will Swanson/ Tearfund