2022 was a roller-coaster ride for Malaysia as a country, from weathering the impacts of a pandemic to an unprecedented unity government. It has been a great year for some, but a challenging year for more.
The new year comes with a hopeful outlook: economists are confident there will only be an economic slowdown and not a full-blown recession1. How can we pray for our country in 2023? Here are five pressing issues we can pray for as individuals, families, cell groups and church communities.
1. Alleviation of poverty
The pandemic has widened the gap between the rich and poor. The pandemic has caused a spike in Malaysia’s hardcore poverty rate, and today, there are more urban poor Malaysians in the cities compared to rural areas3.
What does being poor feel like? It can be worrying about paying the next bill that comes along, or wondering if you’ll have enough for groceries next month. We can pray for:
- Poor families in Malaysia to be empowered (not just given handouts) with skills and opportunities to be self-sustainable
- Reliable and affordable access to healthcare, education, water, electricity and internet connection
- Policy-makers to be intentional and efficient in addressing issues affecting the poor
2. Strengthening of families
The divorce rate in Malaysia has been steadily increasing for the past two decades2, with only 2021 recording a slight dip compared to 2020. With economic and societal pressures on families and income-earners, and an increase in single-parent homes, we can pray for:
- Marriages to be strengthened
- Parents to find quality time, head and mind space to invest in their children – aside from providing for their material needs
- Children to be protected from undesirable influences (e.g. drugs, alcohol, pornography, gangsterism, bullying)
3. Reversal of the brain-drain issue
Academics and experts have warned of Malaysia’s brain drain over the last few decades. According to the think tank Emir Research, there are around 500,000 highly-skilled Malaysians working in other countries4.
In recent times, brain drain affecting Malaysia’s medical fraternity has been widely discussed, as issues regarding permanent positions, bullying, preferential treatment and lack of opportunities for career advancement continue to plague the healthcare system.
However, officials say that brain drain is not just affecting healthcare but every skilled sector as well5. If our country is to progress and advance, we need skilled and qualified Malaysians to believe in Malaysia and its systems again. We can pray for:
- Systemic issues such as corruption, racism and nepotism to be removed
- Leaders to act wisely and righteously in creating attractive opportunities for skilled workers to build the nation
- Deserving Malaysians with a love for their country to be given opportunities to remain
4. Equality among the marginalised
Our nation is host to one of the largest refugee populations in East Asia, with around 182,700 refugees and asylum seekers as of October 20226 — 85% are from Myanmar, while the rest come from 50 other countries.
Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention and thus has no asylum system in place. Therefore, refugees and asylum seekers are seen as illegal immigrants, but those registered with the UNHCR are officially promised protection.
Many of these individuals and families have been waiting for years to be successfully resettled in other countries. How can we uplift, empower and treat these communities with dignity? We can pray for:
- Policies to be updated to reflect the situation on the ground
- A partnership approach to the refugee communities in Malaysia — how can we help one another to thrive
- Authorities to be righteous and not exploitative; refugee organisations to be funded and supported in their work
5. The Malaysian Church
Last but not least, as Christians in Malaysia, we must not forget to pray for the Church. As God’s hands and feet in a broken world, the Church is positioned to influence and impact communities through transformative action and God’s love.
With a unity government and promises of reform both top-down and ground-up, how can the Church play its part in building the nation on righteousness, restoring prosperity and maintaining peace in the land? We can pray for:
- Unity amongst Malaysia’s churches, that we will set aside our differences and pain of the past to find common ground moving forward
- Churches to recognise and understand the times in which they live and what is required of the church to be a representation of Jesus in present times
- Churches to be aware of needs within their congregations and in their communities and to be ready and equipped with resources to make an impact
- Malaysian churches to be empowered and strong – in the Word of God and prayer, knowing their purpose in every season
There are many other issues we can pray for! If you have an issue close to your heart, or one you feel God calling Malaysians to pray for, let us know by sending an email to email@example.com.
- RAM Ratings: No signs of recession in Malaysia, but global headwinds still test resilience, 2022, The Edge Markets
- Jones, G, 2021, Divorce in Malaysia: Historical Trends and Contemporary issues, Vol 13, No. 4, Institutions and Economics, Universiti Malaya
- More poor people in cities than rural areas, says Tok Pa, 2021, Free Malaysia Today
- Malaysia loses 500,000 highly skilled workers via brain drain, 2022, theSun
- Malaysia faces brain drain in every skilled sector, officials say, 2022, The Straits Times
- Figures At A Glance in Malaysia, UNHCR