2020: Prayer Focus

When it comes to praying for the world, where on earth do you start? Although there is so much to give thanks for, it can sometimes feel overwhelming when crises and tragedies fill our TVs, newspapers and social media feeds. But let’s be encouraged to keep on praying.

In the last 25 years more than 1 billion people have been released from extreme poverty. But across the world, millions are still facing hunger, poor health, limited education, and marginalisation or exclusion.

Poverty damages the lives of individuals, families and communities. It destroys hope and leads to despair. But, we want to help people rediscover their God-given potential, and know their true value in Christ.

Evangelical leader and author, Rev John Stott, advised Christians to take the Bible and the newspaper, and read both. In the same way, below are two of the main issues and some of the key countries in urgent need prayer in 2020.

Conflict and political instability
Conflict is caused by broken relationships. And restoring broken relationships is at the heart of what Tearfund does. It’s estimated that by 2030 nearly half of people in extreme poverty will be living in areas affected by conflict.

According to the UN, 37,000 people a day are forced to leave their homes because of conflict or persecution. Our mandate to pray for peace has never been more critical.

Here are seven countries facing long-running crises, which you can focus your prayers on:

Yemen – widely seen as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, conflict has left 24 million people in need of urgent help.

Nigeria – a conflict provoked by Boko Haram and other armed groups in the north-east has forced 2.1 million people to flee their homes.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – fighting amongst armed groups is also hampering efforts to tackle a deadly Ebola outbreak.

Venezuela – political and economic turmoil has led to a mass exodus of people into countries including Colombia and Brazil.

South Sudan – despite a hopeful-looking peace agreement in late 2018, pockets of conflict persist, and millions have fled their homes.

Burkina Faso – churches have been attacked and many schools have been forced to close because of violent clashes between armed groups.

Bangladesh – more than 900,000 Rohingya people, who fled Myanmar, still live in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar camps and are in need of humanitarian support.

The climate crisis
In 2019, efforts to tackle the climate emergency have prompted more headlines and led to more action. But, in the same year, greenhouse gas emissions hit a new record high – a main cause of climate change.

Tearfund has seen the consequence of this on people’s lives first-hand, responding to cyclones, floods and droughts. The link between climate change and these extreme weather conditions is clear and obvious. People are suffering because our relationship with God's creation is broken.

Across southern Africa the global climate crisis is at its most acute.

The UN estimates that more than 11 million people don’t have enough food to survive across nine southern African countries. These include Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique, nations which also faced the brunt of Cyclone Idai in March 2019.

Later this year Glasgow will be hosting the COP26 UN climate talks, bringing world leaders together to try and tackle the climate emergency.

To prepare for these talks, Tearfund is joining with Christian Aid and CAFOD for a year of prayer for all those impacted by climate change.

A PRAYER FOR 2020

Lord God, you made the world and declared it was ‘very good.’ And yet, we have not treated the Earth and our fellow humans with the care and respect they deserve. We are sorry and ask for your forgiveness.

In 2020, give all of us the courage to keep raising our voices about the climate emergency, which affects people living in poverty the worst. And may your Spirit of peace be in the hearts of all people, so that conflicts end with peace, and relationships are restored. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Extra resources:

  • As part of the year of prayer for those impacted by climate change, we're inviting you and your church to host a prayer room. We've made a handy guide with everything you need to run a day or week of prayer.
  • Tearfund’s magazine Tear Times gives an overview and insight into Tearfund’s work around the world. Each issue includes our Prayer Diary, a resource to help you pray every day of the year for people in poverty.
Andrew Horton

Andrew is Online News and Film Editor for Tearfund. This involves finding and writing up inspiring articles for the website, and capturing compelling stories on video.