Year after year, I have noticed that my thoughts seem turn to Russia during this season. Back in the 1980s, at a time when the Cold War was raging and we were praying for Russian Christians to know freedom to worship in their land, the thought that we would be able one day to feast on Russian worship at the click of a button, was beyond anything we could have imagined.
We cannot afford to be naïve, however. The hinges that hold the door to this corridor of relative freedom are fragile in the extreme and vulnerable to pressure. Western sanctions remain in place against Russia, and Russian ‘push back’ continues at many levels. We have spoken before in some depth about the speed at which Russia is developing its armed forces – a fact that has so concerned their neighbours that Scandinavian countries are now reintroducing conscription.
We have stressed many times the importance of praying about the cyber threats that exist in today’s world. One of the main challenges now is something almost as simple and old-fashioned as snipping a thread with scissors. The armed forces have known for a long time something that has only recently come to public attention: that Russia has developed sophisticated techniques to cut the all important but highly vulnerable transatlantic cables that link America, Europe and the rest of the world.
Since something like 97 per cent of all our internet communications and £8 trillion of daily financial transactions pass along a network of just over 200 fibre optic cables no thicker than a can of beer – and some much thinner still – laid at great expense along the floor of the oceans, where would we be without them? They are as indispensable to modern society as bees are in their work of terms of pollinating crops.
You may well have seen this threat highlighted in the news recently, but for those of you would be like to explore it in more detail, you may find the following articles, The internet’s Undersea Cables and This physical network is the indispensable infrastructure of the 21st century) interesting, readable and informative. Russian surface ships and submarines have been seen operating extensively in the location of these cables now for some years.
Year by year Russian forces creeping have been creeping ever further into Georgian territory. This article explains why this is significant, along with similar advances into Ukraine.
It seems entirely appropriate to make such matters a major part of our focus on Russia in prayer. I love to combine prayer with worship, and love music in worship whether from the oldest Orthodox tradition to Hillsong. With Russia firmly in mind, I came across this example from the Orthodox Church which we can use to pray for that vast country.
Or join the four and a quarter million people who have soaked in this powerful YouTube:
There is no translation, which makes it a good opportunity to pray as the Spirit leads. If the style is not in your usual tradition take time to adjust to it – there is much to draw from here. And may the power of the Lord pierce the veil that clouds the spiritual sight of so many in Russia, just as it does in our own nation: from the humblest dweller in city, village or institution right up into the places of power and the machinations of the Kremlin.