Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel. (v33) 2 Chronicles 6:32–33

In times of hardship, it’s easy to look for a scapegoat; someone on whom we can lay the blame for our misdeeds. That’s the Old Testament role of the scapegoat.

All too often we look for someone who looks and behaves differently. Throughout history, this has led to the oppression of people on the basis of their ethnicity.

Given we are all made in God’s image, we have no right to distinguish someone on grounds of race. Indeed in Christ, there is no difference recognised between races. More challenging perhaps is the fact that God invites prayer from everyone, be they disciple or not.

In lockdown, my own daughter experienced this. Her income stopped overnight. She wasn’t entitled to benefits. She rang and said, ‘Dad, what can I do?’ I said, ‘You may not like the answer, but I suggest you pray’.

‘Does it matter that I’m not sure if I believe all you do about God?’ ‘No. God just wants you to start praying. God will direct the outcomes.’ She phoned a week later. She discerned specific answers to her prayers. Her interest and confidence in God began to grow.

We’re not to blame the ‘foreigner’, or ‘the other’. We are to welcome and pray that their practical needs are met and that they find Christ. We have no need to blame anyone for the state of our world. It’s the consequence of sin. Our response is to pray, to love and to serve.

Related Scripture to Consider: Lev. 16:6–22; 2 Kings 5; Luke 7:1–10; Gal. 3:26–29.

An Action to Take: Take time to acknowledge where you are prejudiced. Bring such prejudices to God and ask Him to ensure they do not misdirect your prayers or determine your actions.

A Prayer to Make: ‘Lord, help me to pray for the many ‘others’ who live among me. Meet their needs and lead them to Christ. Amen.’

Photo by Pedro Dias on Unsplash

Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.