Lebanon Prayer: Hell


Lebanon is not yet in the place of damnation. But the president fears it is not that far off.

Asked where the country is headed if no government forms: To Hell, he replied, as if it was clear.

And as if to prefigure—munitions exploded, of a Shiite militia which stored in the south.

For too many, hell is already here.

Food prices are rising 300 percent. Life savings evaporate. Fuel oil is rationed. Even an egg needs black market supply.

And then the prime minister-designate quit.

He insisted on experts to lead a small cabinet, with ministries rotating among all the sects.

But Shiites insisted on the file for finance. As long as some posts stay sect-based they must name their choice.

Government formation is back to square one.

Abandon all hope, as in Dante’s Inferno?

 The gnashing of teeth, as the gospels describe?

God, there is no hell where you are present.

Abandon not Lebanon, nor the people therein.

But will France?

Its initiative lies in tatters, though a Shiite leader still supports its content.

Will it sanction as threatened? Will it keep on hold contingent aid?

France warned that the nation risks disappearing. Will Lebanese citizens hasten this end?

Emigration. Obstinance. Rivalry. Greed.


The world has its share, both East and West. Some see only a pawn in their regional game.

But God, strengthen your leaders to shoulder this burden.

Give vision to see the small glimmer of light.

And humility, to call for dependence on you.

Designate a prime minister to roll once more the boulder. A Sisyphus able to surmount the peak.

But with Lebanon snared in this form of perdition, hold fast the rock upon which they can build.

A city on a hill. A message to the nations.

A free land of liberty, welcome to all.

Let no one pretend, God. So few are hopeful. Hell is other people, so many despair.

You are a God of rescue, of ransom. What payment is needed?

Repentance. Confession. For each one, his own.

Grant your mercy. None deserve it.

Spare Lebanon, humbled, from righteous fire.

Bless all who serve it, wishing its peace.


Lebanon Prayer places before God the major events of the previous week, asking his favor for the nation living through them.

It seeks for values common to all, however differently some might apply them. It honors all who strive on her behalf, however suspect some may find them.

It offers no solutions, but desires peace, justice, and reconciliation. It favors no party, but seeks transparency, consensus, and national sovereignty.

How God sorts these out is his business. Consider joining in prayer that God will bless the people and establish his principles, from which all our approximations derive.

Sometimes prayer can generate more prayer. While mine is for general principles, you may have very specific hopes for Lebanon. You are welcome to post these here as comments, that others might pray with you as you place your desires before God.

If you wish to share your own prayer, please adhere to the following guidelines:

1) The sincerest prayers are before God alone. Please consult with God before posting anything.

2) If a prayer of hope, strive to express a collective encouragement.

3) If a prayer of lament, strive to express a collective grief.

4) If a prayer of anger, refrain from criticizing specific people, parties, sects, or nations. While it may be appropriate, save these for your prayers alone before God.

5) In every prayer, do your best to include a blessing.

I will do my best to moderate accordingly. Thank you for praying for Lebanon and her people.


Friday Prayers for Egypt: Homeland Future

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Give Egyptians their right representation. May they bear well the concerns of their district.

But in whose name?

Many MPs have publicly signaled their intention to switch parties, and the Future of a Homeland is poised to receive them. Doing so would make them the largest party in parliament.

Some are current independents, leaving a coalition that recently hoped to become the majority party.

Some are rival partisans, leaving parties they deem to be failing and riven by internal disputes.

But all have prompted a legal question. The Constitution and parliament bylaws appear to bar any change in status while seated in office. The penalty is expulsion.

God, guide Egypt in this formative period.

Mergers are sensible. Attrition is natural. Institutions are rebuilding and like will find like.

But are you pleased?

The president has expressed hope that the political scene will coalesce.

Are these movements healthy, or manipulating? Do they serve the people? Do they serve the nation?

God, guide each politician’s heart and conscience. Guide the judges who may have to decide.

But not all representation is inside the parliament.

A number of activists were recently arrested, under a variety of charges. They vary in their opposition, but also aim to speak in the name of the people.

Give voice to that which is healthy. Where charges prove true, hold accountable the manipulative.

Guide each activist to serve the people. Guide each authority to serve the nation.

Guide also the judges who have to discern.

God, Egypt’s future is not yet determined. Choices and foundations lay a path forward.

But if the future is open, the homeland is ancient.

Give Egypt peace, you have preserved her before. Give Egypt hope, you have prospered her prior.

Give her good representation, to multiply both.

In whoever’s name they speak, may your will be done.




Friday Prayers for Egypt: Fasting

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Bless those who deny themselves as they deny their stomach. Bless those who celebrate with others as they celebrate your mercy.

Bless those also, who push either to greater piety.

And if in their encouragement they lack piety themselves, God, bless them, too.

May they deny their pride. May they discover your mercy.

May Egypt’s fasting in Ramadan lead her along your way.

Not just her Muslims: Many Christians continue their weekly Coptic fasting. And they do not eat or drink in public, from respect.

So of them all, draw them closer to you in word and deed and being.

Ramadan often becomes a battleground. One critic questioned if fasting is even necessary. Others condemn the popular tradition of hanging lanterns.

Some defend their religious turf. Others hawk merchandise and gouge prices.

Some complain all day and eat all night.

And some—surely many—have a heart contrite and humble.

Bless them all, God. Honor their fasting.



Friday Prayers for Egypt: Gaza Again

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By now, the tragedy is well known. Dozens of Palestinians in Gaza were killed by Israeli fire at the border separating the two territories.

Some were crossing illegally. Others were protesting.

Decide between the narratives, God. There is only one truth, however nuanced.

There may be guilt widely spread. There may be ample justification.

But there is blood. And the blood draws attention to another tragedy: the situation itself.

Gaza is suffering. God, give them hope.

But give them more. Give them consistent electricity. Give them clean water. Give them movement.

Egypt has opened its border with Gaza to allow some flow of people and goods, throughout Ramadan.

But afterwards, God? What future with Egypt? What future with Israel? What future with the West Bank?

What future at all?

Give wisdom to all. There are security threats. There are humanitarian concerns. There are issues of basic dignity.

It is likely the protests at the border will continue. It is likely that some will grow increasingly desperate. Some of these will give up. Some of these will act out.

Where there is power, let it serve humbly. Where there is need, answer it graciously.

God, Gaza is just part of a larger, intractable struggle. Unstuck it.

Bring peace to the people on all sides of divide. Help Egypt be a friend to many.



Friday Prayers for Egypt: Uber, Iran

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If the world is being remade, make it well.

Peace is pending in North Korea, while Iran is thrown in doubt.

Taxis fall out of favor, as private conveyance newly legalizes.

And metro prices have risen again.

Give guidance to Egypt in wading the waters.

The region has already been shaken. Will it shake further? Tehran and Tel Aviv. Damascus and Golan. A new embassy.

Let there be peace, God. Let there be justice. Right the past wrongs, without making new ones.

But change will always displace. Care well for taxis, even as new earnings—and costs—come to be. Does it make the world better? It does make it different.

Is Egypt prepared to change? Is she prepared to preserve? Discernment, God, and quickly.

May she know her friends. May she know her principles.

Remake her, God, in your image. Lest she be remade by others.



Friday Prayers for Egypt: Return to Roots

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Egypt strives to be a good neighbor. She was once also a good host. What future does she desire?

What do you?

Over the past many months Egypt has cultivated its relationship with the Mediterranean nations of Greece and Cyprus. The have a sea to share, natural gas to protect, and economies to integrate.

They have similar vision for their region.

But this week they recalled their past. Egypt invited the two presidents to ‘Nostos,’ which in Greek means ‘return to roots.’ Thousands of Greeks and Cypriots used to live in Egypt, Alexandria in particular.

There are far fewer today. ‘Egypt for the Egyptians’ discouraged their welcome; over time, so did declining economy.

But Nostos celebrated their heritage, and invited their families back for a visit.

Their churches still function. The monastery at Mt. Sinai is theirs. Egypt is still much Mediterranean.

It is a beautiful neighborly gesture. But is it an openness for return?

God, bless Egypt in her hospitality. She is still a good host. African and Syrian refugees in the thousands call her home – at least temporarily. They live, work, and are part of society.

Guide her also in wisdom. Egypt is for the Egyptians. But Greeks and Cypriots – and Italians, and Armenians, and Turks – were also Egyptian. Many still are.

God, if you prosper Egypt, perhaps more will seek her. Wealth often extends welcome.

But the reverse is also often true. Welcome brings material reward.

God, what of the spiritual? Does multiculturalism dilute authenticity? Does a mix of religions tepid them all? Does culture thrive? Do values change?

Alexandria is now known as a city conservative in its Islam. Yet Christians have their historic see.

May all believers be faithful. May all neighbors be kind. May all nations be friendly.

You determine the exact times and places for all peoples to live.

Honor Egypt for celebrating her past. Direct Egypt in treading her present. Bless Egypt in shaping her future.

Many do well in returning to roots. But from where there is strength, spread wide the branches. Allow the birds of the air to rest in their shade.

Uproot the evil, God. Root deep the good.



Friday Prayers for Egypt: Internet, Puddles

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It is hard to fix everything at once. Help Egypt prioritize well.

To boost the struggling economy, the government emphasized the importance of e-commerce.

Steps will be taken to promote the sector. A local company is poised to pioneer an Uber-like regional bus service. And Google offers free digital training in Arabic.

It is a wise move, God. But so few in Egypt are connected, and internet quality lags far behind world standards.

But honor the effort and multiply the gain. Spread it through society. Internet, and all.

Technology can rapidly transform an economy. It can also rapidly transmit vice. Give wisdom.

But if technology starts with the few, the rain is no respecter of persons.

It comes so infrequently sewers are left long-ignored. There is much else to do.

Yet after two days of downfall, the streets are aflood.

The government has by now cleared most. The president has pledged preventative action. Every few years, the problem repeats.

But even so, Egypt needs rain.

God, let it be your blessing. Pour out your mercy, soak deep your love.

Let not the promise of novelty distract firm foundations. From underneath, drain well the filth.

Cleanse Egypt, God, and fix right her flaws. Make repentance priority, that all may be well.



Friday Prayers for Egypt: Education Reform

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Egyptians have long lamented the state of their schools.

Often overcrowded with teachers poorly trained. Private lessons necessary for tests perhaps manipulated. Rote memorization required in subjects not fitting the needs of the nation.

The list is long. The school year is short.

But with the help of the World Bank and a minister formerly responsible for the American University in Cairo, Egypt will soon embark on an extensive reform.

Bless the intentions, God. Guide the outcomes.

More schools will be built. Teacher conditions will be improved. Curriculum will be revised. Tests will begin at an earlier age. Grading will be revamped. Comprehension will be emphasized.

Results will still determine the university future, so perhaps an educational reality will remain. 30 percent of high school students suffer depression; 20 percent contemplate suicide.

God, give the students a deeper understanding of their worth. Give them the motivation to succeed, and the means to do so.

The means require millions. The World Bank will provide some. Help Egypt find the rest.

Many say Egypt requires generational change. Let this be the one, raised properly at home and school. And, properly to fear you.

May such fear prompt duty, creativity, industriousness, and love.

But no more lamenting, God. May school success come.



Friday Prayers for Egypt: Russia, Air and Chemical

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For the first time in two years, Aeroflot returned to Cairo. Russia had suspended all air travel following a terrorist attack on a tourist carrier, and security precautions still prevent direct flights to the popular Red Sea resorts.

Let it not happen again, God.

But as Russian-Egyptian relations return to normal, give discernment in current affairs.

How should the government consider accusations of poison in the UK, and gas in Syria?

Let the truth be known, God, if only to the privy of world leaders. Let Egypt’s president act accordingly.

But give knowledge also to the world community.

Allow heads-of-state the discretion to maneuver. But disclose secret deeds done in darkness. Give no cover to illness in conduct.

None can stand on your holy hill, God. But the heart of a man may yet be made pure. May such men lead their nations well.

Help Egypt stand with many. As necessary, help Egypt stand alone.

Strong. In peace.




Friday Prayers for Egypt: Re-Election

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The election is over, and there were no surprises. President Sisi won re-election with 90 percent of the votes cast. His opponent – 3%. Spoiled ballots – 7%. Overall turnout – 41%.

It is a respectable show of support. Critics say the best candidates were discouraged or prevented from running. They say the government mobilized to get out the vote. They say the media was either complicit, or bullied.

Decide between them, God. But bless the Egyptian people in their choice.

And now, and continue, bless the Egyptian head-of-state.

Give him wisdom to handle the ongoing challenges. Economy. Water. Reform. Terror.

Give him wisdom to handle the coming choices. Constitution. Legacy. Politics. Friends.

Lead him, God. May he seek your leading.

And with him, Egypt entire. Let these be four years of peace, stability, prosperity, and justice.

May all surprises be welcome. May all turn out to the good.



Friday Prayers for Egypt: How Many and Why

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In the coming days Egypt will vote. The question is not who, but how many.

The incumbent is expected to win in a landslide. Even his opponent supports him.

But with so little at stake, so much is at stake, God: Legitimacy, at home and abroad.

No doubt the president is still popular. In the eyes of many he saved a nation.

No doubt the economy is taking its toll. In the eyes of many his policies impoverish.

Egyptians can endure, God, and strengthen them in it. They can also vote, as they have demonstrated repeatedly.

Increase their agency. May they use their voice wisely.

So this week upcoming, God, take the pulse of the nation.

Are Egyptians enthused and eager to show it? Drive high the turnout.

Are Egyptians content and at peace with affairs? Let continue the mandate.

Are Egyptians accepting but with disappointment? Interpret well their absence.

Are Egyptians opposing but without like choice? Make positive their anger.

God, Egypt is at a critical moment. Elections communicate the will of the people.

May they speak, may they be heard, and may they be respected—at home and abroad.

Give Egypt four good years through the man of your choice.

You know the who and the many. Make clear the how. Bless fully the why.

Lead Egypt to peace and prosperity.



Friday Prayers for Egypt: Citizens, Foreign

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The citizen abroad is vulnerable. A foreign culture is hard to navigate with ways and threats uncertain.

The citizen at home is vulnerable. A foreign media is hard to navigate with news and biases uncertain.

So God, give discernment.

A number of recent cases emerged where Egyptians have been assaulted in other countries. One, a female teenage student, just died from injuries suffered in London.

Authorities are following up the incidents, by urging joint measures to monitor the legal process.

A number of recent articles emerged where Egyptians are accused of violations in their country. One, a British outlet, saw an alleged female torture subject deny their reporting about her.

Authorities are following up on the incidents, by urging citizen awareness to prompt a legal process.

God, give Egypt wisdom with the outside world.

A foreign culture sparks creative innovation. A foreign media offers alternate perspective. Both are healthy. Both are dangerous.

So help Egypt pursue justice for its citizens abroad. May they live in peace and mutual positive crosspollination.

And help Egypt promote truth for its citizens at home. May they live in peace with multiple accurate source-publication.

God, the world is uncertain; humanity, vulnerable.

Home or abroad, navigate the Egyptian. But may home, especially, be blessed.



Friday Prayers for Egypt: Crown Prince Visit

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It was a high-profile visit, with high-profile rhetoric. The Saudi crown prince took his first foreign policy travels, spending several days in Egypt.

He spoke of economy. The joint megacity is a future boon.

He spoke of terrorism. Turkey and Qatar need isolation.

He spoke of religion. Copts are beloved and Azhar restored.

He spoke of culture. The opera was visited and is coming to Saudi.

God, these are words to consider. They are words many question. Guide Saudi Arabia between rhetoric and reality. Transform the kingdom to mirror your will.

But God, in this relationship, bless also Egypt.

May the projects respect sovereignty and prosper the nation.

May terrorism subside, no matter its source.

May the religious respect others and hearten the nation.

May culture inspire, no matter its form.

God, give peace between nations, both near and far. Raise the profile of Egypt; may her morals be high.


Current Events

Friday Prayers for Egypt: BBC, Insurance

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Much of life depends on trust. Trust is based on credibility. Credibility comes from faithfulness.

Speaking truth or demonstrating care, guard this deposit in Egypt.

The BBC published a report on widespread torture and forced disappearances. The authorities balked, saying sources are biased – and perhaps the BBC itself.

Later, a ‘disappeared’ woman appeared on TV, denying BBC’s claims. Egypt demanded an apology, suspended cooperation, and threatened to prosecute.

God, you know. Good journalism is crucial, but it is based largely on trust.

Let not the news manipulate it. Let not the government discredit it.

Where trust is abused, expose. Where mistakes are made, correct.

Further transparency, strengthen accountability.

Judge, truthful God, in this world and the next.

The government launched a program offering social insurance to temporary workers. Without regular hire or injury compensation, the certificates give guaranteed payment in case of disruption.

It appears to be a boon to the poor, an additional benefit for employers to issue. But it is also a tool for financial inclusion, strengthening banking and market analysis.

God, you know. Good insurance is crucial, but it is based largely on trust.

Let not the poor be manipulated. Let not the elite be discredited.

Where there is genuine need, assist. Where there is worthy method, employ.

Further compassion, strengthen economy.

Bless, caring God, in this world and the next.

Too many trust too few. Too many are undeserving.

But God, make—or keep—faithful the many in Egypt. Keep—or make—credible her word.

In trusting you, may she prove trustworthy.



Friday Prayers for Egypt: Energy Hub

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It has long been an ambition. Now it is becoming reality. But strange the one who makes it happen.

Egypt is an energy hub.

Not long ago she sold off share at cut rate prices. Not long after that she was begging fuel from international partners.

Then an enormous natural gas field was discovered, giving promise of self-sufficiency.

Came the bombshell: Importing more.

Came the explanation: To liquify, and then export.

Came the confusion: Israel.

As some gasped at the deal the government nodded. Private sector, but an awaited development.

Given infrastructure and a large consumer market, Egypt positioned herself to profit from regional exploration and extraction.

Israel is the first client, having discovered large fields shortly before. Others may emerge.

God, may they find a good partner.

Help shared economics promote common peace. Egypt has strengthened ties with Greece and Cyprus; now even Israel is drawn closer.

Keep contested economics from sparking further tensions. Turkey eyes developments warily; Sudan and Ethiopia jostle over Nile water.

God, there are details to confirm and obstacles to overcome.

But bless Egypt in the management of her resources. May she build a foundation, and distribute well.

Let not her ambition trump her reality. She is still a long way from prosperity.

But God, let it happen. Allow Egypt to rise.




Friday Prayers for Egypt: Documents, Deals

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The intrigue peaked as candidates emerged. It tempered as they fell.

But it continues still.

The running mate of a now detained general threatened release of secret documents that would embarrass the army.

The general disputed, as his partner joined in confinement.

And then a third, unrelated.

A former popular presidential candidate, not running now, boldly bashed the whole enterprise.

He is now in custody, accused of making deals with the Muslim Brotherhood, to which he once belonged.

God, reveal. Let Egypt have no secrets.

Where she has enemies, bring them to light. Where she has sinned, bring her to repentance.

Keep her accountable, and keep her safe.

In the days that followed several parties responded by pledging to bring out the vote. They asked for greater openness in the political system, but condemned destabilizing calls for boycott.

Bring the right balance, God, and bless those on both sides.

May it be that all seek Egypt’s best in sincerity, and find a way forward together.

But let the people deliver their message, and let it be heard and interpreted well.

Let it lead to transparent governance. Let it lead to prosperity and peace.

Let the documents be open. Let the deals be social contract.

Let the intrigue pass, and public policy prevail.

For the good of Egypt, God. Temper it not, nor let it fall.



Friday Prayers for Egypt: Operation Sinai

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There are three weeks left. Following a terrorist attack that killed 300 worshipers at a mosque in Sinai, the president gave a three-month ultimatum to the military and police to eliminate terrorism.

Today, Operation Sinai was launched. By land, air, and sea, in the desert and the Nile valley, a massive deployment seeks to fulfill the president’s call.

Parliament, al-Azhar, and the Orthodox church have all signaled their support. Perhaps the next few days will be telling.

But proof comes in the next few weeks. Terrorism hides easily. And surely many wish to disrupt the coming presidential elections.

God, protect.

Guide security to hideouts and depots.

Shield civilians from wayward fire.

Redeem terrorists from the judgment of Hell.

In the days to come, God, death counts will rise. Comfort the families, strengthen the nation.

Let the operation be decisive. Purge Egypt from the scourge that has plagued her.

May she seek peace, and pursue it.




Friday Prayers for Egypt: Candidates Set

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After much drama, the result may be straightforward. The presidential election will pit the incumbent against the head of one of Egypt’s smaller parties.

The candidate, who registered at the last minute, is also on record as one of the incumbent’s strongest supporters.

Some say he is there for show. He says he is there to win, but also in support of Egypt’s democratic development.

Without him, the election would be referendum.

So God, develop.

May these elections spur conversation on government policy.

May they spur growth of all allied parties.

May they give options to forces inclined toward a boycott.

May they give voice to the people in endorsement or change.

Some say the result has been predetermined. With you, God, it has, and make clear the path.

Allow these elections to move Egypt straightforward. Dramatic or not, guide her to peace.



Friday Prayers for Egypt: Settling the Field

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It is the highest post in the land, and therefore the most critical.

Fill it with the man of your choosing, but give the people a valid choice.

One once-popular candidate revised his desire to run.

One once-powerful general fudged his ability to run.

One once-marginal activist decried the procedures to run.

One still-notable politician tests the waters to run.

One still-controversial professor might be the first female to run.

One still-flamboyant chairman lingers, perhaps the only to run.

God, bring forward the right and true. Shield Egypt from ill agenda and lawless ambition. Give her candidates of judicious mind and servant heart.

And of them, of all them, give wisdom to the people.

Four years is a long time, God, and these four years are critical.

Settle the field, and settle the nation.

In her candidates, and of the one, lead her free to fields of peace.



Friday Prayers for Egypt: Nation, City, River

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To present an idea, men come together. To discuss, they meet. Three conferences this week convened weighty issues.

Human contact helps relations. Human hubris may drive apart. But the ideas matter, and make a difference.

President Sisi presented the accomplishments of his four years in office. From national projects to economic reform, it may be the prelude to his reelection campaign.

God, give eyes to the people to see Egypt rightly. Where there is success, to celebrate. Where there is question, to examine. And whether or not he runs again, to vote.

The Azhar rallied for the sanctity of Jerusalem after US disruption of the status quo. Muslim and Christian, Palestinian and Arab, it aims to increase pressure from the international community.

God, give eyes to the world to see Israel rightly. Where there is negotiation, to encourage. Where there is posturing, to expose. And whether or not an embassy moves, to seek justice.

The Nile River commanded the attention of Egypt and Ethiopia. The two presidents met to revive deliberation on a steadily constructing dam.

God, give eyes to the nations to see water rightly. Where there is complication, to study. Where there is stalling, to speed. And whether or not consensus emerges, to drink.

Let the ideas settle. Let the conviction impact. Let the people reflect.

And in the end, God, reveal the right path forward. Let men meet and talk, but first pray. Be not absent, in any conference.