Taliban forces have taken control of the Afghan capital, Kabul, following the flight of the elected president into exile. This comes as UK and other Western embassies evacuated their staff, and amid chaotic scenes of thousands trying to join scarce flights out of the country.

Attention in the UK has in recent weeks been focused on granting asylum to those, such as interpreters, who worked with British forces and whose lives are likely to be at risk from the Taliban régime. Following the exit of US forces earlier in the summer, the advance of the Taliban against the Afghan army has been swifter than many expected with little resistance offered.

The comments from national leaders across the globe demonstrate the consequences that this régime change could have for the people of Afghanistan, especially women who were so severely subjugated under the previous Taliban régime. However, the words of these same leaders also demonstrate the limited range of actions that appears open to them to take. While military forces are currently aiding the evacuation efforts there is no suggestion that they will remain to resist or counter the Taliban rule. 

It is easy to feel helpless, especially when we look at the seeming futility of the words of political leaders urging the Taliban to respect human rights. We should press our government to act with compassion, mercy and justice towards those fleeing Afghanistan. 

And we should pray. We believe in a God who can move mountains and regardless of how a situation may seem, we can believe in His power to intervene. Please join with us in the prayer below for Afghanistan, its people, and for God’s justice and mercy to rule.

A prayer for Afghanistan

Father, today we pray for Afghanistan.

In recent days we have witnessed the withdrawal of Western forces and the paramilitary overthrow of the country’s government by the Taliban.

We are deeply concerned about this unfolding situation and the consequences for the women, men and children living there.

Lord, You hear the cries and see the tears of those formed in Your own image.

We know that politics, diplomacy and international laws have an important part to play in creating and maintaining peace and stability. We pray for wisdom for international leaders in this moment.

However, we also see starkly the limits of such endeavours. Human efforts alone cannot compel love of neighbour, let alone enemy; rather this is the transformational territory of Your word and Spirit.

So would You move Your hand to change the hearts and minds of the oppressors even now? Withhold evil and cultivate good, banish darkness and bring forth light.

We declare Your nearness over those who have been abused and displaced, violated and oppressed. Would You open their ears and eyes to Your presence?

We pray for Your church there. Would You comfort and strengthen, protect and bless our sisters and brothers? As persecution draws close, would You draw closer still?

Teach us how to respond as we place our hope in You and Your good and just plans for Your creation.

Lord, have mercy and hear our prayer.

In Jesus’ name, amen.