For the first time, the Iraqi people have an opportunity for a self-governing, freely elected government and the virtues of individual civil liberties. But will they embrace this opportunity? Can they understand political freedom? Do they value self-determination?
The nations involved with the coalition forces have risked a great deal to provide the citizens of Iraq with these freedoms. This is why believers worldwide need to pray. If God doesn't grant them a miracle, the people of Iraq could easily establish another tyranny--maybe worse than the one recently removed.
God alone can open their minds to the virtues of protecting one another--even those who are different than they are--and to the idea of the state providing an environment of peace and order so citizens can worship freely.
When the focus of the White House turned toward Iraq just a little more than a year ago, I knew this was the chance for a significantly better life for the Iraqi people. After being enslaved to a tyrant for so long, many Iraqis had lost hope. But American, British and Australian intervention made it possible for the people of Iraq to experience a measure of freedom at last.
The signs of democracy, religious liberty and economic freedom are beginning to emerge, yet the forces of tyranny are still active in the region. The recent formation of the Iraqi Governing Council and their promise of a constitution is one more sign that Iraq is becoming a country of the people, by the people and for the people.
We have many positive indicators and some significant challenges. Coalition forces take hits nearly every day. Many innocent Iraqi people still live in fear of Baath Party supporters. The coalition faces a long struggle to finish the job correctly, fully installing democracy and ensuring that fundamentalist Islam no longer controls the country. It is essential to cover Iraq in prayer.
Please intercede for these four main areas:
1. Protection for all Iraqis. The vast majority of Iraqis just want to go to their jobs, support their families, receive education and practice their religion of choice in peace. Unfortunately, they could be thwarted by the forces of fundamentalist Islam and Saddam Hussein holdouts.
Pray God would protect the people of Iraq and provide them with the essentials--water, food and shelter--as the country is rebuilt and a new democratic government is established.
2. Protection for coalition forces. Soldiers are being shot at as they try to open schools, guard places of business and provide safety to Iraqis. Some violent sects apparently hate the sight of Westerners helping improve the country. Most of the recent attacks are located precisely where soldiers are doing humanitarian work.
Bathe the soldiers in prayer and ask God to remove the terrorist elements from the region. Pray that guerrilla forces are contained and thwarted in their efforts.
3. The rise of democracy. There is substantial debate right now over whether democratic ideals will work in a country that has lived under political and religious oppression for so long. However, history reveals that democracy can work under any condition, given appropriate time and parameters.
Pray for the wisdom of those working on Iraq's new government and for the quick reception of individual liberty. Pray God would bless the nation and allow it to prosper as its people learn to work together for the common good.
4. The decline of Islam. As Iraq moves toward these democratic ideals, pray that Christian missionaries and relief workers would have favor in the region and that millions would embrace the salvation found in Jesus.
Make Iraq a regular prayer focus throughout this next year as the struggle continues. Stay abreast of current events so you know how to pray. Also be sure to check into www.worldprayerteam.org to look for more Iraqi prayer focuses.
As we pray and lend our support to the struggle for liberty, the people of Iraq will be set free as never before!
Donations, marked "Operation Iraqi Care," can be made payable to: Christian Life Missions, P.O. Box 952248, Lake Mary, FL 32795-2248. The money will be channeled to Iraq through World Relief.
Ted Haggard pastors New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is the author of many books and is the newly elected president of the National Association of Evangelicals.