Lighting a Candle in Iraq

A call to pray and fast for the Iraqi elections
By Cheri Fuller

As the historic Iraqi elections draw near, insurgents and terrorists are using violence and intimidation to frighten people away from the poles and kill Iraqi soldiers and American and coalition forces. Terrorists are attempting assassination and kidnapping of key leaders, attempting to use any and every violent act to derail the elections. They have killed electoral officials, some in broad daylight, and bombed American vehicles. Sunni Muslims are threatening boycotts of the elections. Many have said there is no way the elections can take place, yet preparations continue. There is a grave threat facing Iraqis at this critical point in their history, and a grave threat facing our soldiers who are convoying across the country to deliver voting machines and ballots and provide security at polling places.

As I was praying about the Iraqi elections, I read the story of another conflict that happened on August 19, 1991 in Russia that built my faith and inspired hope for Iraq*. On that day, Communists in Moscow, angry with having to give up their control of Eastern Europe, seized control of the Soviet government while Mikhail Gorbachev was out of the country. The communists had the manpower, tanks and troops outside surrounding the building, and Boris Yeltsin and the entire Russian parliament were trapped in the parliament building. Thousands of brave citizens gathered outside, forming a human barricade.

Behind the scenes, when two Christian leaders of the Bible Society in Moscow heard of the coup, they talked and prayed about how to somehow persuade the troops not to fire on protesters. They asked Bible societies around the world to earnestly pray for the situation. As people prayed, God showed the Russian Christian leaders an unprecedented strategy:

Just as the storming of parliament was about to happen, a truck full of New Testaments showed up. Christians went from tank to tank and soldier to soldier, handing out the Bibles and quoting Exodus 20:13: “Thou shalt not kill.” Nearly every soldier accepted the New Testament. Some put them in their pockets and others started reading it immediately. Within a short while that day, the coup collapsed and the Communist empire with its evil control crashed to the ground. What would have happened if believers around the world had not united in prayer?

Let us light thousands of candles in Iraq with our prayers. May we form a massive prayer cover around the country of Iraq and their upcoming January 30th elections. Let us pray that the Iraqi leaders and citizens will rise up and take responsibility for their country’s destiny; that they will “Call to God and He will show them great and mighty things” (Jeremiah 33:3)—strategies to defeat the insurgents and to protect those who come to polling places to vote. Let us intercede for godly leaders to be elected; this may sound impossible, but nothing is impossible with God. Consider fasting in whatever way you can on Friday, January 28. Pray and ask everyone you know to pray for a mighty hedge of protection, chariots of fire and angels around our soldiers in Iraq before, during, and after the elections.

Lord, call intercessors from the north and the south, the east and the west to unite in prayer and support the Iraqi people desiring to vote and our military forces there to help them. Speak to our hearts, draw us near that we might hear Your voice and answer on our knees.

*Adapted from Candles Behind the Wall by Barbara Von Der Heydt