How to pray for the global hunger crisis
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A guide to help you pray for people affected by the crisis in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.
Right now, the world stands on the edge of another crisis1.
Right now, 50 million people are on the brink of famine due to conflict and the climate crisis.
The worst drought in 40 years has led to harvests withering away; the invasion of Ukraine has caused the price of food imports to skyrocket; local conflicts have forced millions of people from their homes; and flash floods have been washing away what little is left.
As one of our partners shares, conflict is driving the crisis in northern Ethiopia, while drought drives the crisis in southern parts of the country:
“In the past year, it is getting worse. There is not sufficient rain and communities have missed seasonal crops for at least the last four consecutive seasons. The most vulnerable groups like children under five years, pregnant and lactating women, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses are in a serious condition. Many of them have been malnourished.”
– Abraham Alembo, Head of Disaster Prevention and Peace Building Unit with Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church Development Commission
Praying for such a vast crisis can feel overwhelming, but prayer is powerful and can be part of the solution.
This prayer guide is divided into two sections: the first giving suggestions on what to pray for, and the second providing different creative prayer ideas for you and your church, group or family to use.
What to pray for
Picture above: An estimated 7 million people in Somalia alone are likely to face acute food insecurity between June and September this year. In nearby Somaliland (pictured), severe drought is similarly threatening lives and leading to supply crises. Image: Tearfund Germany.
There are five areas we can focus our prayers on: for people affected by hunger and water shortages; for those in leadership positions; for God’s provision and love to be revealed through the church; for vulnerable adults and children; and for peace.
Pray for people affected by hunger and water shortages
- Pray for provision of nourishing food and clean water for those in need.
- Pray for healing for those who are suffering from malnutrition and hunger. Pray that they will feel God’s love and comfort surrounding them. Pray that there will be no long-term side effects or medical conditions due to hunger.
- Ask God to bring the rainfall that is needed to parts of Uganda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan. Pray that this will lead to abundant harvests and for water sources to spring up again closer to communities.
“Rains in South Sudan started late this year again, and in Mundri there was lack of rain also after the cultivation, affecting the already planted crops. There was also a worm which destroyed crops in some areas during the month of April/May. Currently, there is a growing hunger crisis in Greater Mundri areas. Now the rains have started again and we hope that the communities will harvest something to help them out.”
– Gulliver Ishmael, Director of Tearfund partner Sudan Evangelical Mission
Pray for world leaders and politicians
- Pray that food and fuel prices will stabilise, and that provision will be made for countries in a vulnerable position.
- Pray for a swift response to this crisis from the Australian Government. Together with Micah Australia and agencies across the aid and development sector, we are calling on the Australian Government to urgently provide funding of $150 million to prevent catastrophe in the worst-affected hunger hotspots in the Horn of Africa, Yemen, and Afghanistan, and to work to tackle the root causes of the global hunger crisis.
- Pray for meetings with members of parliament so they can better understand the challenges facing the region, understand what Tearfund and the local church is doing, and the crucial part they can play in alleviating the crisis.
Pray for the church
- Pray for the church in Australia to speak out against the injustice of the hunger crisis and for it to use its influence to persuade the Australian Government to take action.
- Pray that God’s power will be revealed through the church around the world – that it will bring a message of hope amid the suffering.
- Pray for our local church partners as they respond, and pray that the entire church will be resourced to serve people who are suffering. Pray for church leaders – who are often struggling with the effects of hunger themselves. Ask God to strengthen and protect them as they live out God’s call to care for people in need.
Pray for vulnerable children and adults
- The crisis has led to an increase in child marriages. In their desperation, parents are marrying off their daughters to wealthier families in the hope that they’ll have a better chance of survival. Pray for protection for these girls. Ask that they will be valued as God’s precious daughters by their communities.
- Pray for a generation of children who are missing out on their education because parents cannot afford their school fees. Others are missing school because they are having to travel to collect water instead, or are simply too hungry to attend.
- Pregnant and nursing mothers, people with disabilities and the elderly are especially vulnerable to food shortages. Pray for God’s protection and provision over them.
Pray for peace
- The shortages of resources, including food, is making conflict worse in Ethiopia and leading to renewed conflict in other places. Pray for people’s safety and for peace to reign.
- Pray for an end to the conflict in Ukraine, which is having a huge effect on the price of essential food supplies such as flour and cooking oil.
Ways to pray…
Go on a prayer walk
Getting outside and going for a walk can give you a new perspective, and the things you come across during your walk can also prompt and guide your prayers. If you or anyone in your group struggles with walking, you may want to choose a location, such as a park, that has benches so that everyone can join in.
Stop and spend some time enjoying the nature around you. If you brought a camera with you, try to find something new or unusual to capture. Praise God for his wonderful creation. Focus on the weather, plants and the conditions they need to grow and flourish. If you can, listen to a worship song as you do this.
Lament for the ways in which we have destroyed and damaged our world instead of protecting it, and the impact that is having on some of the world’s poorest people – such as those in East Africa. Pray for people who are suffering due to the effects of the climate crisis. Ask God what you can do to make a difference.
Pray using a map
Using the map above, invite the Holy Spirit to reveal a particular location to you. This could be a particular town or country.
Once you have chosen somewhere, lay your hand above it on the map. Pray for that location and the people there. Ask God to reveal specific things you can pray for, or use prayer points in this guide to help.
If doing this activity as a group, you could take it in turns to choose a location to pray over.
You could save the map to your computer and print it off. You can then keep it up as a reminder to pray for the regions hardest hit by the crisis during your week.
Write a psalm
The Psalms are full of prayers and songs of lament: of pain and hurt. Of crying out to God in the dark of the night, wondering if the sun will ever rise again. They can help us to verbalise our disappointment, desperation and anger at the world around us – such as the injustice that so many people are going hungry right now. David, who wrote many of the Psalms, even voiced his anger at God himself (Psalm 13, Psalm 79).
Begin by reading some of the Psalms to help you find the words to bring to God (Psalm 130). Then, write your own psalm of lament to God over this crisis. Ask God to move in power to help end this crisis.
Pray by fasting
Fasting is a form of prayer that’s been around for thousands of years. It involves purposefully giving up something that you’ll miss in order to shape your focus.
First, choose what to fast from. Food is the most common choice, but you could also fast from TV or social media. Make sure you consider your health and consult a doctor if needed.
Then, decide how long you want to fast for. Challenge yourself but don’t be unrealistic. You could start with missing just one or two meals on a particular day, then repeat that on the same day each week.
Use the time that you would have spent preparing and eating food, or scrolling through social media, to focus on God and bring the crisis before him. When you notice that you’re longing for whatever it is you’re fasting from, use it as a reminder to focus on one of the areas of prayer listed above.
If you’re doing this as a church or a small group, think of ways you can encourage each other throughout the day. This could be by sending each other Bible verses or sharing what God has been speaking to you.
Join us in prayer
From manna in the wilderness to bread and fish on the mountainside, you have shown your power and generosity in providing for the hungry. We appeal to your power and will to move today in meeting the needs of the millions of people who are facing life-threatening hunger. We hold before you the people made most vulnerable by this crisis, knowing that you see them, you hear their cries, and you are able and desiring to meet their needs.
We know that the limitations facing supply chains and harvests do not limit you. Lord, please work beyond the disruptions, blockages and adverse conditions and make a way for supplies to reach those who desperately need them.
We pray for those who rely on farming to feed their families and earn an income. Encourage those who labour over the land, help them to find solutions and resilience to the challenges they face. God of creation, we ask you to mercifully bring favourable conditions to the land, for planting, growth and harvest. Bring rain in the right amounts and right timing to where it is needed now, softening the land to receive rain when it arrives. Please protect crops from attack from pests and diseases.
Lord, please bring an end to the violence and establish real and lasting peace. Protect those who are working for peace at local, national and regional levels, providing them with strength, wisdom and courage. We trust that you would be especially close to those who have had to flee their homes, or are experiencing trauma. Open the way for them to safely return home, reunite with families and communities, and find healing and comfort.
Jesus, we know that your compassion moves you to respond to the needs of the broken, hurting and forgotten. Thank you for giving us your example of how to respond in Christlike love, and we ask you to show us the unique ways to do this in the context of this crisis.
We pray that your church outside of the regions affected by the hunger crisis would be awakened to the need and moved to action and generosity. We pray that your church within the regions affected by the hunger crisis would be strengthened, encouraged and able to minister to their communities with the hope of Christ.
We pray that those in positions of power, who can make decisions that have the potential to change the course of this global situation, would yield to the movement of the Holy Spirit and act quickly for justice, freedom and compassion.
Lord, we pray for the work of Tearfund’s partners and other organisations that are faithfully working to respond to the urgent needs of people hardest hit by this crisis. Thank you for positioning them to serve at this time. Please protect them, encourage them, and break down anything that would hinder them, opening up the way for their vital work.
In Jesus’ name we pray
Thank you for joining us in prayer. Let’s continue to pray and act together on behalf of people suffering from hunger.