I have just come from prayer as I’m sure have many of you. As we pray for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine, I can imagine rising from each of you the sighs, the groaning of prayer for a situation for which there seem to be no adequate words.
The terror of what is happening and the panic about what could happen have the power to numb and exhaust us. The confusion in our minds and hearts can keep us from opening our souls fully to the power of God available to us when we align our hearts with him. Can God do anything to stop this? Do my prayers amount to anything in the face of so much evil?
Just now in prayer, God led me to pray that he would cover himself in glory by bringing about the defeat of the Russian forces. The Advent cry of Isaiah was in my heart:
Oh, that you would burst from the heavens and come down!
How the mountains would quake in your presence!
As fire causes wood to burn
and water to boil,
your coming would make the nations tremble.
Then your enemies would learn the reason for your fame!
When you came down long ago,
you did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations.
And oh, how the mountains quaked!
For since the world began,
no ear has heard
and no eye has seen a God like you,
who works for those who wait for him! (Isaiah 64)
I found that grounding my heart in God’s sovereignty—his lordship over history and nations—made my own heart stronger. Yes. We all need to be stronger now than we have been. Like President Zelenskyy, who is the face and flame of heroic strength for the Ukrainians and those who are joining them as they fight for their homes and their homeland, we each must stand boldly with courageous hearts to declare that God is sovereign and evil will not triumph.
“Your throne, O Lord, has stood from time immemorial. You yourself are from the everlasting past. The floods have risen up, O Lord. The floods have roared like thunder; the floods have lifted their pounding waves. But mightier than the violent raging of the seas, mightier than the breakers on the shore— the Lord above is mightier than these! Your royal laws cannot be changed. Your reign, O Lord, is holy forever and ever” (Psalm 93).
3 ways to strengthen your heart
I wanted to share with you a few things that have strengthened my heart and may strengthen yours:
- Ask Jesus: What or who do you want me to pray for in this situation” When I asked Jesus this question, I immediately saw images of mothers with newborn children. I prayed that these courageous mothers would be safe, that they and their child would have sufficient food, that they would the electricity they needed to care for their child, that their husbands would one day return to them safe. I invite you to ask Jesus this question. When we focus on the entire situation in Ukraine it can be overwhelming. Following the heart of Jesus, and praying for a particular group of people, humanizes what is so tragic. It focuses us.
- Share with Jesus and Mary your emotions and thoughts. It would be perfectly understandable for them to feel out of control, but we have to be careful here. Panic and speculation pull our hearts out of the ground in which we flourish. That ground is the heart of God. Psalm 73:26 helps us here: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” We give God charge or the inner storm when we share it with him. Then truly we discover that God is our strength.
- One of the most prominent statues in the Ukraine capitol’s Independence Square is a powerful image of St Michael the Archangel, watching over the city of Kyiv. The Ukrainian people have a 1000 year devotion to St Michael as a powerful protector over the people of Kyiv. Call on the power of St. Michael to come with his angel armies to the protection of the people of Kyiv, for as the letter to the Ephesians reminds us, “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Eph 3:16). The archangel Michael, Prince of all Angels, is a symbol of power and divine leadership in the battle against the forces of darkness. Throughout its history, the Ukrainian nation has had a deep symbolic connection with the triumph of goodness, truth and justice over evil and tyranny. Pray to St Michael to protect the people of Ukraine, to fight for them, to provide for them, to seal their cities against the power of evil, to lead them in the paths of truth and justice as they fight off evil and tyranny again in their land.
Here are some other resources that may help you:
Free Online Retreat Opportunity: St. Joseph’s Way to a Calm Heart: A Spiritual Path for the Anxious
Wisdom for the Week: Meditation for Calming Anxiety
Featured Article: Prayer for Ukraine: O God, Rain Down Your Mercy
HeartWork Practice: You Are God’s Divinely-Loved Ones
Featured Prayer Guide: A Mini-retreat to revive your heart: Ukraine and War-Related Anxiety
John Eldridge: Praying for Ukraine Podcast
What are you doing to strengthen your heart and align yourself with God’s heart in these days?