Any competent counselor can tell you that good things can result from conflict. That is, if both sides are willing and able to engage and learn. Right at this moment, countries from Egypt to Zimbabwe are facing chaotic leadership challenges.

Having lived in a portion of the Middle East for several years, these days we’re receiving some questions about the upheavals and how to pray. An understandable conundrum, this. People on the other side of the planet live lives that have distinct differences from ours. But another, honest-to-goodness question has arisen: “Why on earth should we care?” Personally, it’s a pretty disturbing one, but needs to be answered. So here goes:

There are people involved. God loves people, no matter where they live or how they dress. Come on, now, we know that. But prayerlessness reveals apathy, and maybe also a gut feel that it isn’t going to work anyway (more on that later). 1 Timothy 2:1-4 says “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” Enough said.

There are Christ-followers who live there. Whenever we encountered issues or threats when living overseas, a little voice inside our heads reminded us that we were foreigners. A passport to a safer place is a powerful tool. Millions of Middle Eastern Christians possess no such luxurious option. James 4:17 says “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” Prayer is a good thing to do on behalf of these people, right?  Pray for their safety like you mean it.

Someone will be in charge. Please understand that there is not, in reality, a “vacuum” in Egypt, nor in any of the other countries that are facing instability. Maybe this is because in my mind, a leadership vacuum would consist of people standing around, looking at each other and wondering what to do. This is far from fact. Rather, there are  forces behind the scenes which have been jockeying for position in the hearts and minds of the people for decades, if not far longer. One of the more ominous is the Muslim Brotherhood. Pray that people of peace will gain positions of great influence.

The West has some self-interest. Perhaps the least noble motive, but real nonetheless. A less stable Middle East means more Islamists in charge, more radical madrassa schools, and more people disenchanted with “us” in general. This is a simplistic answer, granted, but you really only have to look over the list of terrorist attacks for 2010 to qualify it. In the visible world, things could go a number of different ways. Pray that Western Christians would grasp the gravity of this phenomenon and intercede.

There is more info out there about how to pray specifically for Egypt, for Pakistan,  Yemen, and the Middle East region. Read, absorb, and pray on!