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Praying for Syria

September 2011 | by Christine McLaren

Praying for Syria

‘Many Syrians have taken to the streets’ has become a familiar refrain in our news feeds. Thousands of its 18.4 million people have sipped from the cup of boldness, inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. The Assad government has so far used force to quell the uprising. How should we pray for Syria?
    Syria features prominently throughout Scripture. The capital city of Damascus is mentioned in Genesis and much of the Old Testament. The most well-known incident linked with Damascus is recorded in Acts, when Paul was approaching the city intending to arrest any who belonged to ‘the way’. A light flashed around him and he was struck blind.
    The risen Lord Jesus instructed Paul to continue towards the city, where he met Ananias. His ministry to the Gentiles began there, where he preached that ‘Jesus is the Son of God’ (Acts 9:20).
    Christianity took root in Syria in the first century and flourished until Islam came in the seventh century. Today, about 10 per cent of Syrians profess Christianity, while 87 per cent are Muslims. One town in Syria uses Aramaic, the language spoken by Christ. Many Christians adhere to Orthodox traditions and there is a Protestant minority.
    Under present leadership, Christians have been allowed to live alongside Muslims. They are not free to witness openly to them, although they do seek to share the claims of Christ with their Muslim friends and neighbours.
    Let us pray: for an end to the violence — according to reports, 1300 people have died and tens of thousands have been injured; for the 10,000 Syrians who have fled to Turkey as refugees; that the witness of Syrian Christians would be effective; and that foreign Christians will be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
    We praise God that President Assad has allowed Christians to coexist peacefully with other religious groups and pray this will continue whatever the outcome of the present struggles.
Christine McLaren


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