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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Pray for Ukraine

At 5am on Thursday, Russia invaded Ukraine on three separate fronts: in the north from Belarus, in the east from Donetsk, and in the south from Crimea.

The horrific scale of the force – around 150,000 troops – and the severity of the initial assault were shocking. As disorientated Ukrainians mobilised to defend their nation, Putin chillingly warned that any country coming to their aid would face consequences the like of which had never been seen before.

The West has promised unprecedented sanctions, though Ukrainian appeals for financial support are increasingly giving way to pleas for military assistance.

Putin invaded on the invented pretence of liberating the country from genocide and neo-Nazism, positioning himself as some sort of justice-seeking saviour. But this is patent hypocrisy, supposedly ‘saving’ people through bloodshed and violence, purporting to keep peace whilst pursuing war.

It’s similar to the modus operandi of the Roman empire, who oppressed people in the name of peace and order 2,000 years ago. Except this time, it’s not down Roman roads, but Russian roads, that the war machines roll.

Yet, in a world of power and violence, Christ came not as the Messiah many expected. He overthrew Rome not by force, but by sacrificial love. In truly liberating the oppressed, the only blood this Messiah shed was his own, rebuking his disciples for trying to win by violence (Mark 8:29–33). Whatever road his followers take, cross-bearing is a precondition.

This wasn’t, however, a martyr complex. Jesus came to defend the vulnerable and complete his mission, which justified defensive swords smuggled into the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:38).

So, what might a Christlike response look like here?

It might look like the self-sacrifice required to put in place tough sanctions on Russia, even when measures hurt us as well. And, God help us, it may mean boots on the ground of a vulnerable nation to confront injustice. Whatever way we take, it will be fuelled by prayer, as genuine peace is beyond what we can secure in our own strength.

So, we pray for the Prince of Peace to reign over this conflict. We pray against bloodshed, and for violence to quickly end. We pray for wise leaders, and peacemakers on every side. Lord, show us how to defend the vulnerable. And may comfort and compassion conquer fear and violence.

For we pray in the knowledge that, just as Rome fell within centuries of Christ’s victory on the cross, the kingdom will always outlast the empire.

Matt Jolley
Editor, Connecting with Culture


  1. Matt, thanks for these inspired words. They have helped me find focus as I struggled with this issue this morning.

    By Richard  -  25 Feb 2022
  2. Helpful, thank you. Difficult to know quite how to pray in the face of such a crisis

    By Ray Drabble  -  25 Feb 2022
  3. Amen to your prayer. It is comforting to know that Jesus not only shall reign in our troubled world but that He also reigns within His people now!

    By Arthur Bates  -  25 Feb 2022
  4. Amen, and thanks

    By Bruce Gulland  -  25 Feb 2022
  5. Thanks for your words which help me to journey through this terrifying situation. Justice may mean boots on the ground.
    However that could start WW3!

    By Dermot Thornberry  -  25 Feb 2022
  6. Well said – including the sensitively and carefully crafted “boots on ground comment”. Wise as serpents, innocent as doves….

    By Mark Womersley  -  26 Feb 2022
  7. The climate crisis demonstrates that humanity (including Christians) are not very good at averting problems before it is almost too late. Like climate change, the situation over Ukraine has not developed overnight, and we are all now desperately playing catch-up. It’s because of our failure to speak out prophetically and build peace proactively that there we are now talking about war in Europe or even worse. When the immediate crisis has passed, Christians need to put a lot more passion into making the case for co-operation between nations, leading to disarmament and a world which is not condemned to keep rolling the dice with God’s world in this unsustainable way.

    By Martin Tiller  -  26 Feb 2022
  8. Thank you. I have been reading this out in church meetings and services, to help people get their heads and hearts round the issue from a theological perspective.

    By Moira Biggins  -  27 Feb 2022
  9. Whilst it is essential that Ukraine is supported in prayer and service, we must not forget other areas of the world experiencing the same terror and shortages. Also, there is the issue of arms control, racism, ideological balance, food dependency, climate change and biodiversity. Therefore, we need to broaden our prayers to include these issues along with helping develop shared leadership and mentors. And finally, we need to publicise (where appropriate) the good work the church and NGOs are ding in these countries. (The Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia, Ethiopia, Central America, Myanmar, Kashmir, southern Thailand, the Sahel, southern Philippines, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, etc)

    By Greg Fletcher  -  10 Mar 2022

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