“Give peace a chance.”

This line, quoted from John Lennon’s 1969 anti-war song, has been repeated on multiple occasions of late โ€“ most recently at the Olympics’ opening and closing ceremony by IOC president Thomas Bach, in light of heightened political tensions around the world.

This morning (February 24, Singapore time), the head of the United Nations (UN) had similarly implored Russian President Vladimir Putin not to attack Ukraine and to “give peace a chance“.

But it was too late. Minutes later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

What’s happening in Ukraine and how is Russia involved?

After months of mounting tensions and unsuccessful de-escalation talks, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a military operation in Ukraine, and called on the Ukrainian military to lay down their arms.

Explosions were heard before dawn and throughout the morning in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, a city of 3 million people. Gunfire rattled, sirens blared and the roads out of the city were choked with traffic as residents fled.

At the time of writing, it has been reported that more than 40 Ukrainian soldiers and around 10 civilians have been killed so far in the Russian invasion of capital Kyiv.

How to pray for Ukraine and Russia

Scripture has instructed us that “petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people โ€“ for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). In The Message version, it says to “pray every way you know how”.

In a time like this where it has been said to be “the darkest hours since WWII“, we can only pray.

1. Pray for the people in Ukraine

The name Ukraine originates from the general Slavic word for “borderland”, and Ukrainians have seen struggles with their Russian neighbours for many years. For instance, over 13,000 people have died in the small-scale war that has been raging in the southwest Ukraine since 2014.

Pray for:

  • Peace and protection from violence and attacks
  • Order and safety for those who are fleeing the capital Kyiv
  • Mercy for the vulnerable and innocent civilians

Merciful God, we cry out for the people in Ukraine. We ask that You rescue the people of Ukraine and protect them from harm. Give them the peace that transcends all understanding even in a situation that looks completely hopeless. We plead for Your mercy to be upon the innocent lives. Lord, have mercy.

2. Pray for world leaders and governing bodies involved

Leading up to today, many world leaders have stepped forward to discourage the Russian military efforts but to no avail. The head of the UN implored Putin on Wednesday night not to attack Ukraine and to โ€œgive peace a chance,โ€ a plea made just minutes before Putin would announce a military operation in Ukraine. We must look to God.

Pray for:

  • Wisdom and discernment as world leaders make key decisions
  • Justice to be restored and upheld
  • God will soften and turn hearts towards Him

Mighty God, we ask for Your wisdom and sovereign hand to be upon this situation. We pray that You will do a miraculous work in the hearts of the world leaders. We pray that You will turn their hearts towards peace. Lord, help us.

3. Pray for the believers in Ukraine

Hours following the announcement of a military operation in Ukraine, a group of people were seen gathering to kneel and pray in the town square โ€“ a sight that has moved many around the world.

Pray for:

  • Strength and hope despite their current circumstances
  • Courage and selflessness to look out for their fellowman
  • Boldness and preservation to rise up in faith

Heavenly Father, we lift up all of our Christian brothers and sisters in Ukraine to You. Those who live there, those who minister there, those who have been there to serve the people… We ask that they will find strength and hope in You despite the current situation. Give them the courage and the selflessness to look out for those around them, that they may be salt and light to all around. Let this become an opportunity for them to rise up in faith. Lord, be with them.

If perhaps you have been numbed and unbothered by the fallenness of this world, pray for empathy. Pray for God to give you a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17).

Ask God to break your heart for what breaks His. Pray that you will learn to see current affairs in the world through His lens. Pray for love and compassion to fill your heart.

Whatever the enemy has meant for evil, know that God will turn it for His good (Genesis 50:20).