Prayer Focus for Brazil – Sunday, January 31
Challenges for Prayer
The nation and government have made great strides but still face massive challenges. Pray about the following:
a) Endemic corruption and cronyism have been addressed aggressively, and idolatrous structures are crumbling. These have come at some cost, but they are moves in the right direction, bringing political accountability and economic transparency, establishing justice and enabling economic opportunity. Pray that future governments would not shirk from the painful but necessary process of excising all that is putrid and corrupt.
b) Poverty still affects tens of millions. Admirable reforms and progress are being achieved, but a significant proportion of dwellers in large cities still live in poverty-stricken, crime-ridden favelas, and the education and health care sectors are in serious need of improvement. The poor, especially street children and indigenous peoples, often suffer terrible discrimination and exploitation. Debt slavery affects up to 250,000 people (the official number is 25,000), especially in the Amazon.
c) Crime is a serious problem. Brazil is the world’s second-highest consumer of illicit drugs and has the world’s highest rate of firearm homicides. Nearly 150 people a day were murdered in Brazil in the years between 2000 and 2010. The police response has been brutally heavy-handed and rife with corruption, and the nation’s prisons are notoriously overcrowded and violent. Unprecedented breakthrough, spiritual and social, is needed to turn this around.
d) Racial differences may not seem an issue in the ethnic melting pot of Brazil, but statistics bear out a different view of Brazil’s complex racial context. While blacks/morenos are 40% of the population, they only account for 3% of college graduates and form the majority of Brazil’s poor. Although nearly half have African ancestry, less than 7% openly claim it on the census. This is, however, more a case of social rather than racial discrimination.
Brazil is a spiritually open country, for good and for ill, and is probably more Spiritist than Catholic in underlying worldview. Although “non-religion” is actually the fastest-growing faith group, few of that category would be hardcore atheists. Most follow Afro-Brazilian cults (such as Candomblé, Macumba, Umbanda) derived from African animism and witchcraft, but “high Spiritism” (Kardecism) is more popular among whites. Only 1.3% identified themselves solely as Spiritist in the census, but around 10 million practice, and even one-third or more Brazilians visit Spiritist priests or guides; many quite happily practice Catholicism and Spiritism together. The ecstatic experiences, flexible practices and emotional mysticism give it great appeal to the Brazilian mindset. Pray for all spiritual falsehoods to be exposed as such and for Christ alone to be exalted as Lord in Brazil; pray for those in actual spiritual bondage to be delivered through Jesus.
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