Prayer: Making way for the gospel to go forward

Lauren O'Shea | Near East

In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, 'Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.'” –  Isaiah 19:23-25 (NIV)

Isaiah 19 speaks of a highway that would connect Egypt to Assyria, and prophesies that they would one day become a blessing to one another. 

A community of believers from across the world is coming together to establish houses of prayer along what has been called the Isaiah 19 Highway, and gathering to pray for the Arab world. These believers organise extended times of prayer and worship. 

There is a network of people participating in this sort of intentional prayer and worship in the Near East Field (the OM field includes the countries of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Iraq). This summer, more than 100 workers came together in Kurdistan and spent more than 40 hours in a continuous cycle of worship and prayer. Then a group met in Lebanon and continued to pray and worship for 54 hours straight. Those leading these events are moving along the Isaiah 19 Highway and continuing to worship and pray for breakthrough in the Middle East. 

“We always sense that worship is absolutely key. You worship first, and the worship pushes the darkness back and makes way for the gospel to go forward,” said Peter*, an OM worker from the UK. 

“2 Chronicles 20 talks about the worshippers and the dancers who went ahead of the army and, basically, the army never had to fight because God defeated the enemy as a result of the Israelites’ worship. He cleared the way before the troops,” Peter continued.

In 2015, during one of the prayer and worship events in the Near East Field, a man who was praying received a picture from the Lord. He says that he saw a great tsunami that started in the Levant area and flooded into the Arabian Peninsula. The group interpreted the vision as God telling them that all the amazing ways the gospel is moving forward in the Near East will soon flood over into the Arabian Gulf region, and that those nations will start to experience the church planting movement that the Near East is currently experiencing among Muslims.** 

Sadie*, a South African worker currently living in the Near East Field, said, “That’s something we’re obviously really excited about because we can imagine the impact that’s going to have on followers of Islam and the bigger area, once the Arabian Peninsula floods with the truth of Jesus!”

Sadie shares that one of the themes that has emerged over the last few months of prayer is an emphasis on praying for Sunnis and Shiites. She notes that people have been praying regarding the division of these two groups for years, but she senses a newfound importance to pray in this way. While standing on top of a high place, she and a team prayed over the divide while looking out over their city in the Near East. They had the opportunity to pray whilst being able to see the different areas where the Sunnis and Shiites reside.  

Other focused area of prayer was for one of the large Palestinian camps, praying against the radicalisation of the region’s young people. 

“There are some great stories of radicals encountering Jesus, and their lives have turned around,” Peter excitedly retold. “We prayed for more encounters like that, and that ‘Sauls’ would become ‘Pauls’,” he explained in reference to the biblical account. 

Peter shared: There have been generations of missionaries who have been 'sowing the seeds' of the gospel of Jesus in the Middle East, without seeing much fruit from their labour within their lifetime. Now, he explained, it seems as if the "fruit is coming up left, right and centre" as seen through the new vibrant fellowships of Jesus followers in the Near East. 

Peter believes that the  increase of people gathering to pray and worship globally is bringing and releasing more and more people into the Kingdom of God, and Sadie agrees. 

“If we want to see God move, and we know it’s His heart to move and touch the Arab world, it’s going to require us to humble ourselves and pray. It’s beautiful to see how more and more people are understanding that and are stepping into a life of intentional prayer,” Sadie shared.

Pray for wisdom and protection for the prayer teams as they travel throughout the Middle East and North Africa as they lead prayer and worship gatherings. Pray that God would continue to bless the houses of prayer along the Isaiah 19 Highway, and that more people would be willing to pray on behalf of the people in the region. Pray that God would raise up more Christian Arabs who would worship and call out to the Lord to see Muslim Arabs come to know Jesus Christ.

*Name changed

**For more information regarding the church planting movement in the Near East Field:

Published: Friday, 05 August 2016
Credit: Lauren O'Shea
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