A LENT PRAYER JOURNEY
The mountains of the Middle East are well-known to us from Bible accounts as places of silence and grandeur, of refreshment and revelation. Voices carry far in the quiet air – and those who pay attention can hear them clearly.
This Lent, let’s quieten the clamour so that we can hear God’s voice. Source of all that is, He seems sometimes to be found in the tiniest spaces: a bush burning in the desert, a whisper after an earthquake, a still, small voice of calm.
Let’s also listen closely to the voices of believers across the Middle East and North Africa. So often isolated and unseen, they have powerful testimonies to share, which SAT-7 has gathered here.
In response, we say to God, “Hear our voice” as we let these stories guide our prayers for breakthrough in the region. There is untold power in prayer. Our voices, when raised, are heard in heaven.
Let’s let the mountain air fill our lungs – and then use them for what they were made for.
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
1 Corinthians 15:55
Our Lent journey brings us first to Egypt, to the desert valleys of the Sinai and the lush Nile Delta, where God heard and answered the cries of His enslaved people in the time of Moses.
Today, many Egyptians follow Christ, including 5.5 million SAT-7 viewers. They are also the target of repeated violent attacks.
Coptic Orthodox Archbishop Angaelos shares how, despite this, Egyptian believers demonstrate a remarkable ability to forgive.
As He did for Mary in the garden, God’s voice brings comfort in the midst of despair – and courage, confidence and hope.
"Let us fast from all evil, in purity and righteousness…
So that with a pure heart, an enlightened soul, an unashamed face,
a faith unfeigned, a perfect love, and a firm hope,
we may dare with boldness, without fear, to pray to You, O God,
the Holy Father, who are in the heavens,
and say, “Our Father...”
Lent prayer, from the Coptic divine liturgy
Ask God to bring to mind anyone you need to forgive.
In the stillness, listen for God's words of comfort for any painful situations known to you.
Official language: Arabic
Population: 97 million
Religion: 90% Muslim, 10% Christian (majority Coptic Orthodox)
Did you know? The Copts are the largest Christian community in the Middle East. According to tradition, the Coptic Church was founded in 50AD by the apostle Mark, who brought Christianity to Egypt. The word ‘Copt’ comes from the Greek word ‘Aigyptos’, meaning Egyptian.
24 February - 2 March
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
This week we travel to Turkey, home of the snow-capped Mount Ararat, known in Persian as Kuh-e Nuh, the “mountain of Noah”.
After months at sea, we read that the Ark finally came to rest on the mountain – a place of stability as the waters began to recede and life returned.
A stabilising of the volatile, ever-shifting political climate in Turkey is something many long for. SAT-7’s show, Worldview, seeks to nurture this by encouraging viewers to listen to God and to each other as they explore the often controversial issues of the day. The channel also helped Turkish viewer, Shirin, to try a new listening approach to prayer which brought breakthrough and new life to her faith.
Pray for more people in Turkey to hear God’s voice through watching SAT-7, and to actively seek His peace and presence.
Have you heard God’s voice in your own life recently? Why not set some time aside this week, like Shirin, to “remain in His love”, confess your sins, and invite Him to speak?
Decide to listen more attentively during any discussions, heated or otherwise, you may find yourself in over the next few days.
Official language: Turkish
Population: 80.8 million
Religion: 99.8% Muslim, 0.2% Other (includes Christian and Jewish)
Did you know? Mount Ararat (pictured), the traditional resting place of Noah's Ark, is an active volcano in eastern Turkey.
“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”
This week our journey brings us to the rocky mountain ranges and salt deserts of Iran.
Life for many Iranian women can be harsh and arid. Widely regarded as second-class citizens, they are denied many opportunities to flourish.
Hengameh Bourji, a presenter of SAT-7 show Insiders, shares how Jesus’ radical inclusion of women like his friend Mary is an oasis of hope for many. As both men and women in Iran come to faith in increasing numbers, they are discovering with joy that God gives the voiceless a voice, and invites them to use it.
Pray that the women of Iran will experience the love of Christ and the power of His death and resurrection, and then follow Him whatever the cost.
Mary was thirsty for Jesus’ teaching. Are you still keen to learn about your faith, or have you lost some momentum? Look for ways to renew your study of the Bible and mine it for fresh treasure.
Women at the beginning and later stages of their lives often find themselves overlooked by society. Seek out a young, or older, woman, and listen carefully to what she has to say.
Official language: Farsi/Persian
Population: 82 million
Religion: 99.4% Muslim, 0.6% Other (includes Zoroastrian, Jewish and Christian)
Did you know? There were Persians present in the crowd in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost - and there has been a continuous Christian presence in Iran ever since!
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.”
As we turn our ears to Morocco, let’s listen to the voices of two men who found an answer to the longing of their hearts.
Both Pastor Rachid and Ayman were lonely in their youth – and hungry for something they knew was missing. By God’s grace, they found it through SAT-7.
The sound of God’s voice reached Ayman via our programmes in his hospital room, while Pastor Rachid was connected with a Christian brother by SAT-7, who then helped him commit his life to Christ.
He testifies to the transforming opportunities opened up by the technological information revolution, and a spiritual awakening at work in his country.
Ask God for faith in Christ to spread across Morocco, and for seeds planted by SAT-7 programmes to flower, despite opposition.
Take a moment to think about how the digital revolution has affected you. Consider how you can mitigate any negative effects, and look for ways to use your time online to generate increasingly positive, life-affirming outcomes.
Ayman never forgot the “heavenly music” SAT-7 brought into his hospital room. Spend time listening to some new worship music – perhaps in Arabic, or in your own language.
Official language: Arabic
Population: 33.9 million
Religion: 99% Muslim, 1% Other (includes Christian, Jewish and Baha'i)
Did you know? According to a 2016 survey, SAT-7 has around 1 million viewers in Morocco.
“Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.”
As we turn now towards Syria, we find a ravaged landscape, torn apart by years of ferocious fighting. Cities lie ruined, and their inhabitants bear deep wounds – both physical and psychological.
Some were recently recorded for SAT-7 by a Christian film crew, the first to report from Raqqa after its liberation from so-called Islamic State.
Beaten, imprisoned, their homes destroyed by bombs, they long to see their churches repaired and fellow-believers coming home. Despite all they have lived through, they bear witness to an irrepressible hope.
“There’s compassion and love… Life is returning”, says local resident, Abdel Hakeem.
Pray that Syria’s bitter war will soon end, and that her people will be able to live together respectfully and rebuild their battered country.
Where in your life, or in the lives of those you love, have you lost hope? Be honest with God about it, and then ask afresh for breakthrough.
Slowly re-read the words of the “lights of Syria” interviewed by the film crew. Rarely will we come across people who have suffered so deeply and emerged with such hope. Let’s let their words echo in our hearts and change us.
Official language: Arabic
Population: 18 million (a further 5.5 million are registered as refugees)
Religion: 87% Muslim, 10% Christian, 3% Other (includes Druze and Jewish)
Did you know? The 'Shouting Valley' is the meeting point of four countries - Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel - and is so named because people meet there to shout across the borders to their relatives on the other side!
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This week, we look to Lebanon, whose famous cedars are often associated with fragrance and flourishing.
The country is host to high numbers of refugees, putting pressure on resources for all who call it home. In the midst of turmoil, Lily Malky shares how she and other members of Resurrection Church Beirut have made a decision to follow only the voice of Jesus.
This has led them to serve and share the gospel with the Lebanese, Iraqi and Syrian people alongside whom they live. Echoing this diversity, SAT-7 has been recording worship from the different Christian traditions in Lebanon, to promote understanding and unity between believers from different backgrounds.
Thank God for the diversity and faithfulness of believers in Lebanon, and pray for their unity to touch many.
“Blest are you, O faithful Church, for your refuge is the cross.” Maronite Good Friday hymn
Spend time today reflecting on Jesus’ sacrifice. Thank Him that, because of the cross, believers around the world can come before God and lift their voices to Him in prayer.
Visit sat7uk.org/goodfriday to hear the Saint Rafqa Choir singing a Maronite Good Friday hymn.
Official language: Arabic
Population: 6.2 million
Religion: 54% Muslim, 40.5% Christian, 5.5% Other
Did you know? The majority of Lebanon's Christians are Maronites, an eastern branch of Catholicism. In Maronite tradition, Holy Week begins with an ancient rite called "Coming to the Harbour". This rite celebrates the ship, a symbol of the Church, reaching the harbour of salvation in Jesus after its safe journey through Lent. Mariner symbolism is strong in the Maronite Church, due to their Syro-Phoenician seafaring heritage.
Join us on 31 April for a special Easter weekend reflection. You can also download your booklet below: