Prayers

Matthew 25: Prayer for food for the hungry

Romida and her 1-year-old son, Salman, are two of the 880,000 Rohingya refugees living in southern Bangladesh who depend on humanitarian aid for everything, especially food.

Hunger is a problem that has plagued humanity for millennia, and it continues to haunt us. The United Nations and World Food Programme 2021 report “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World,” projected that between 720 and 811 million people in the world faced hunger in 2020. In addition, an estimated 22% of children under 5 were stunted (too short for their age), 6.7% were wasted (too thin for their height), and 5.7% were overweight (too heavy for their height).

Nearly one in 10 people in the world go to bed hungry each night. Join us in prayer for the hungry around the world and others who are working to feed them.

Just because hunger has persisted doesn’t mean it has escaped God’s notice: “God always keeps his word. He gives justice to the poor and food to the hungry,” (Psalm 146:6–7, CEV). His expectations of His people haven’t changed, either. When God gave Moses the law for His people, one was to let some crops stay in the fields so the poor could glean them for their families (Leviticus 19:9–10).

Every year we recognize the struggle against hunger with World Food Day on October 16. In honor of the founding date of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, people around the world affirm their commitment to eradicating hunger.

I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.—Matthew 25:35 (NIV)

The past year was not an easy journey for first-time mother, 20-year-old Romida, who’s raising her 1-year-old son, Salman, in a Rohingya refugee camp. Romida, like 880,000 Rohingya refugees living in southern Bangladesh, depends on humanitarian aid for everything, especially food.

“In our village back in Rakhine, we used to grow rice and vegetables, and raise chickens, cows, and goats on our farmland,” says Romida. “We could eat what we wished. Here, we don’t have any land to cultivate. We have no income, and we cannot buy necessary items. Life is much more difficult here than in Myanmar.”

Refugees in the camps receive monthly rations of rice, lentils, and oil from the World Food Programme (WFP). While this diet sustains life, it does not provide the vitamin-rich, high-protein diet that pregnant women and nursing mothers like Romida need to keep their infants and themselves healthy.

World Vision began a fresh food voucher project in June 2019 to help improve the diets of more than 700 pregnant and lactating mothers,

Each woman with a family of seven or more receives a monthly food voucher valued at US$15; those with families of less than seven receive a US$10 voucher. The vouchers can be used at World Vision–designated shops to buy 14 different food items.

Romida received her first voucher when her son, Salman, was 7 months old. She hadn’t enjoyed an egg in two years. “I was very happy when I received the torkarir token (“token for cooking items” in Rohingya),” she says, smiling. “I bought many eggs. I also bought dried fish, potatoes, turmeric, sugar, onions, and chiles, according to my choice.”

Romida cooked up a feast, combining her token groceries with her WFP ration of rice and lentils.

“I think the food support helped me stay healthy while breastfeeding. I could eat eggs, potatoes, dried fish, and green vegetables. The tokens were a blessing for us,” Romida says. “My child is growing up. When I see him joyful and lively, I am happy.”

Experts estimate that the COVID-19 pandemic added up to 132 million people to the ranks of the undernourished in 2020. So we come to the Lord in prayer for the poor and hungry.

Pray for the hungry.

What’s different now from perhaps any other time in history is that the problem of hunger can be solved. The world can produce enough to feed everyone on earth, yet 3 billion people cannot afford a healthy diet.

Almighty God, it is difficult to see children suffer, especially from hunger. We pray for You to give the hungry daily bread today (Matthew 6:11) and end their persistent hunger. Provide the food they need to grow and thrive. Pour out Your grace on hungry families, especially parents straining to feed their children despite dwindling resources.

Give us today our daily bread. —Matthew 6:11 (NIV)

Pray for the millions of people struggling from famine and food shortages.

In East Africa, tens of thousands of children are at risk of starvation as food crises affect 32.9 million people. World Vision is scaling up humanitarian assistance here to meet the health, nutrition, child protection, livelihoods, shelter, education, and clean water and sanitation needs of the most vulnerable. Ask God to begin healing these battered areas of the world.

Good Shepherd, we pray for cooperation and support for life-saving assistance to people struggling from food insecurity and hunger around the world. Send life-giving rains at just the right time, create good conditions for families to grow food for their survival, and cease conflict so Your children will no longer go to bed hungry each night.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights. … —James 1:17 (NIV)

Learn about hunger and famine in Africa and how to help
In South Darfur, Sudan, World Vision is providing nutritional care for children diagnosed with malnutrition. As of March 2021, nearly 7,000 children below the age of 5 and 1,800 pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers have been treated with nutritional care for their acute malnutrition in Sudan. (©2021 World Vision/photo by Sojoud Elgarrai)

Pray for children affected by acute and chronic malnutrition.

Worldwide, at least 340 million children younger than 5 don’t get the nutrition they need. Hunger affects everything from intellectual development to physical growth and the ability to fight off illness. Without proper nutrition, a child’s heart literally shrinks. In cases of acute hunger, the liver, kidneys, and intestines begin breaking down. Ask God to intervene.

Great Physician, we don’t have words to express how much this breaks our hearts. Have mercy on these children. Protect their little bodies and give them strength. Put Your healing hand on those with developmental issues and allow them to grow up strong and healthy despite the hunger that afflicts them.

Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. —Psalm 6:2 (NIV)

Pray that children can learn despite hunger.

Many children around the world rely on school meals as a key source of their daily nutrition. At the beginning of 2020 when COVID-19 forced the closures of schools around the world, national school feeding programs delivered school meals to more children than at any time in human history, making school feeding the most extensive social safety net in the world.

Despite these unprecedented gains, the programs remained least effective where they were needed most: 73 million of the most vulnerable children were still to be reached.

Heavenly Father, be with little ones as they seek to learn. Please allow schools to reopen safely around the world so children can pursue their education and also have access to the nutritious food there. Provide their parents with the means to send them to school well fed so the only hunger they know is an insatiable hunger to learn. Equip them with an education that prepares them to do the great things You have planned for their lives.

Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life. —Proverbs 4:13 (ESV)

Nicolás, 6, sits at the table to eat breakfast. World Vision’s team in Ecuador distributed food kits and education kits to children in Quito as part of the COVID-19 emergency response.
Nicolás, 6, sits at the table to eat breakfast. World Vision’s team in Ecuador distributed food kits and education kits to children in Quito as part of the COVID-19 emergency response. (©2020 World Vision/photo by Chris Huber)

Pray for World Vision’s work to feed people who are hungry.

World Vision, the largest distributor of World Food Programme food aid, continues to be at the forefront of feeding millions of hungry families. We work with children, families, and communities around the world to provide nutritional relief in the short term and improved agricultural programs and training in the long term.

Loving Provider, Isaiah 58:10 tells us that if we give ourselves on behalf of the hungry, then our light will shine in the dark. Thank You for those who are shining lights, and please call forth others to make a difference. Be a fortress against danger for World Vision’s staff who work in Your name to feed the hungry. Continue to use relief workers to bring not only much-needed food but to also show Your love so people can be fed spiritually and physically.

And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. —Isaiah 58:10 (NIV)

In prayer, ask God for help in the fight against hunger.

The hunger Sustainable Development Goal calls for an end to hunger around the world by 2030. However, since 2014, the number of hungry people worldwide has been slowly rising, and the estimated increase in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic equaled the increase over the previous five years combined.

New projections confirm that hunger will not be eradicated by 2030 without bold actions to accelerate progress, especially actions to address inequality in access to food.

Great Deliverer, we pray against the ripple effects of COVID-19. We pray that Your love will guide our steps as we continue on the path to eradicating hunger and helping people lift themselves out of poverty.

“Everything is possible for one who believes.” —Mark 9:23 (NIV)

Pray for people to discover the Bread of Life.

World Vision prays for strength in the continuing fight against physical hunger. But we realize that we “do not live by bread alone” (Matthew 4:4, NLT). Many people still live without faith and hope.

Thank You Lord for being our Bread of Life — the One who satisfies our soul’s deepest desire with the joy of salvation. Open people’s eyes to recognize You as the only Bread of Life for their spiritual hunger.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” —John 6:35 (NIV)

 

Himaloy Joseph Mree of World Vision’s Bangladesh staff and Laura Reinhardt of World Vision’s U.S. staff contributed to this prayer guide.

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