Refugees are some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Leaving your home – and everything you know and love – is not a decision that anyone makes lightly. People are often desperate, fleeing violence, persecution or disasters, such as floods and cyclones. Even their journeys to find refuge are often marked with danger.
Caring for the vulnerable is at the core of our faith. God is clear that his heart is for the refugee; and calls for us to follow suit.
‘He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.’ (Deuteronomy 10:18)
Jesus’ message of ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you’ (Luke 6:31) should be at the forefront of our minds. Jesus repeatedly emphasises the attitude we should take to those in need: ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matthew 25:35-36)
As individuals we may not always be able to do anything practical to help – but we can always pray, and prayer is powerful.
Pray with us
Below are seven ways you can pray for refugees. Why not spend a week in prayer, focusing each day on a different section? Or, if you’re part of a church or small group, you could focus on one section a week to study and reflect on.
After reading each section, reflect on the people mentioned and the stories shared. There is a short prayer at the end of each section to act as a prompt to help begin your prayers. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to continue to pray. You may feel moved to pray for a particular crisis or group of people.
Pray for safe routes for refugees to take
Refugees are often left traumatised by their journey. This is one of the reasons why Tearfund and our local partners set up trauma support groups in countries where we work that are home to people who have fled violence.
‘One million Rohingya people fled extreme violence in Myanmar – half of them children,’ shares Sanjeev Bhanja, who leads Tearfund’s work in Bangladesh. ‘Many of their homes were torched and the journey to Bangladesh – often taken on foot – was dangerous. Survivors tell of being chased and attacked on the way, as well as being separated from their loved ones. There were also many that were killed during their escape.’
When violence happens, people are left on their own to escape wherever and however they can, not knowing if they’ll survive the journey or find safety and welcome in the countries where they end up.
Lord, we pray for people right now who are being forced to flee – meet them on the road and protect them and guide them to safety as they travel…
[Continue with your own prayers here]
Pray for provision of food, clean water and a safe home
Accessing even the most basic essentials for life can be difficult for refugees.
Many refugees end up in settlements. Some of these are camps created for this purpose, other areas – usually slums because it’s all refugees can afford – quickly become their home.
These places are often cramped and dangerous. For example, more than 1 million people live in Cox’s Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh, making conditions cramped and dangerous.
Most people’s homes there are plastic tarpaulin tents erected on steep, muddy hills – and there’s often not even an inch gap between them. Families share limited facilities there too. One toilet will serve more than 20 households, each with five or six members. That’s more than one hundred people using one toilet, sometimes more.
‘Tearfund and our local partners are doing everything we can to make things safer for refugees and allow them to live with the dignity any human being should have,’ shares Sanjeev.
‘Our work includes building more shower blocks and toilets in the camps and installing solar lights to make the camps safer.’
Lord, we pray for provision of regular food, clean water and safe accommodation for refugees. We ask that you bless the homes they come to inhabit – let them be places where they can find peace and joy and build new memories…
[Continue with your own prayers here]