Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide - How to pray for persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria - Open Doors UK & Ireland
13 September 2021

How to pray for persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria

Your prayers for Syria and Iraq make an enormous difference for your persecuted church family. Thank you for standing with those who follow Jesus no matter the cost – here's how you can keep praying.

Middle East pray
One of the believers you're praying for is Anwar*, the son of a sheikh in Syria

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18)

It can be hard to keep praying. 

Sometimes, the news from around the world brings on a bit of prayer exhaustion. Conflict, turmoil, countries caught up in a spiral of violence – it never seems to change.

But the truth is that, down on the ground, change does happen. Down on the ground – in churches, homes, workplaces and communities, the kingdom of God is gaining ground every day. It’s not that life isn’t still hard and challenging. There is violence and uncertainty, of course. But there is also peace, kindness and generosity. 

There is hope.

For the past five years, your prayers and support for persecuted Christians in the Middle East have brought about real change in the lives of thousands of people. 

Now, as we enter the sixth year of our Hope for the Middle East campaign, prayer remains as vital as ever.

Here are four ways in which you and your church can continue to pray for Christians in the Middle East:

1. Pray for those who lead

  • Pray that God will bless leaders in Syria and Iraq, and that they will be strengthened and equipped for their vital role
  • Many leaders are targeted by extremists. Pray for their protection 
  • Pray for rest and healing for leaders burnt out by events around them.

Open Doors partners run leadership training with Christians in the Middle East, particularly focusing on helping leaders with the trauma and stress around them. 

“The so-called Islamic State had huge impact on everybody,” says Mourad*, a local partner who coordinates Open Doors work in Syria. “Church leaders often had to pretend they were strong. They wanted to continue serving their community, responding to the physical needs, dealing with the loss of people and children being traumatised. However, they lived in the same circumstances and sooner or later church leaders would be struck with fatigue.”

We pray for the leaders of your church in Iraq and Syria;
Where there is fear, may they bring courage,
Where there is confusion, may they bring wisdom,
Where there is weariness, may they bring hope.
You, Lord, are their rock and their salvation.

2. Pray for those who remained

  • Pray for the many elderly Christians who have not been able to leave Syria. Pray that they will still keep connected with their family outside the country
  • Praise God that even though many have left, many others have come to Christ for the first time
  • Pray for new believers from a Muslim background who are often persecuted by their Muslim family or community.

Literally millions of people have fled Syria and Iraq in the past ten years. 

The church in Qamishli, Syria, saw many of its members leave. 

“But the seats that became empty were filled with others again,” says church leader Pastor George. “Although the war was so awful, God turned ashes into beauty, a lot of people came to Christ… The church is now growing more widely.”

We pray for those who remained behind.
Those who stayed, even when they could have left.
May they know Your comfort and peace. 
We thank You that new life is always breaking out,
That empty seats have been filled with new followers,
And that nothing can stop You building Your church.

3. Pray for the widows and the orphans

  • Pray for all those who have lost loved ones through war or violence
  • Pray for the widows who suddenly find they have to provide for their families. 

There are many widows, whose husbands were killed in the war. For other women, their husbands were abducted and they have no way of knowing if these men will ever be seen again. Open Doors helped Nizha Oubary, a 54-year-old widow, start an income-generating project with help from Open Doors. “This project has saved me from homelessness, now I can afford rent,” she says. 

We bring before You those who grieve;
Those who, shattered and broken themselves, 
  must be strong for the sake of others.
Be their hope, Lord, and their strength.
Bring others to help them,
To dry their tears, help carry their load, 
  and walk with them on their way.

4. Pray for a safe return

  • Pray for safety and security for the Christians who have returned to their homes or who are planning to return
  • Pray that the government will be able to increase job opportunities and guarantee security
  • Pray that people will be able to buy food and for the churches who currently support many in need.

Open Doors partners are helping vulnerable families rebuild their homes and communities. Through Centres of Hope run by Open Doors partners in Syria, over 1,700 income-generating projects have been created, helping people start restaurants, shops, factories and workshops. 

“This gives them the opportunity to support their families and build a future again in their country,” says an Open Doors local partner. “Amidst the destruction in the country, these are the burning candles of hope… The war doesn’t have the last word.”

We thank You for those who have the courage to return,
We thank You for the rebuilders, the renewers, 
Those who demonstrate Your new life 
Even in the midst of bombed out places.
May they flourish, Lord,
May they live lives that point to You,
And in doing so show that war will never have the last word.

‘Someone who has hope, spreads hope.’

Thank you for continuing to support the persecuted church. 

As well as the gift of prayer, there are other ways in which you can support our persecuted brothers and sisters.

You can write to believers in the Middle East and send them hope and encouragement.

You can support the persecuted church in the Middle East with your gifts.

Whatever you do will be so important in keeping hope alive.

“When a hungry person gets a food package with love and respect, it gives him hope,” says Mourad. “When someone can start a small business, that gives hope. When a believer from a Muslim background is offered training, it gives hope. And giving hope is contagious. 

“Someone who has hope, spreads hope.”

*names changed for security reasons

Send encouragement

You can write to believers in the Middle East and send them hope and encouragement - they'd love to hear from you!

Your messages of hope make an enormous difference to those who follow Jesus no matter the cost.


Write today

Please give
  • Every £24 could give Bibles to two children to help them grow in faith
  • Every £28 could pay a week’s rent for a persecuted Christian, giving them somewhere safe to live
  • Every £47 could provide food and medical support to a believer affected by Covid-19.

My gift today

Share this story

Get involved

Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.