Our prayer country for the week is the Islamic Republic of Mauritania is situated in Africa. It is bordered by Morocco, Algeria, Mali, Senegal, and the Atlantic Ocean. The area is 1,030,700 square kilometers. It is an entirely desert region, apart from the north bank of the Senegal River on its southern border. The capital is Nouakchott.

The population is about four million. Life expectancy is 56.6 years. Population data are not specifically reliable since there is a caste system as well as economic and political issues. Many prefer to simply divide the population into equal thirds—White Moor, Black Moor, and Sub-Saharan African. The official language is Arabic.

Mauritania is one of the world’s poorest countries. Continuing drought in the 1970s and 1980s devastated the country and led to rapid urbanization. Subsistence farming and animal herding are the main sources of employment. The main exports are fish, iron ore, and oil. Corruption is still a significant factor in the economy at all levels. Two issues dominate political debate—the alleged persistence of slavery in the interior and the interethnic tensions between Sub-Saharan African and Moors.

Politically, Mauritania became independent from France in 1960, followed by a long succession of military coups. The military junta transformed itself into a multiparty democracy in 1992 but was ousted by a bloodless coup in 2005. The restoration of a civilian government came after the 2007 elections. After another coup, presidential elections were held in 2009, re-establishing civilian government.

Mauritania is officially an Islamic Republic. The Constitution states that Islam is the religion of the people, and there is tremendous social pressure against anyone converting to another faith. Only .25% of the people are Christians (a little over 8,000 out of 3,000,000 who practice religion).

Clearly, this country is in need of prayer and of receiving the Good News. Physical needs are also paramount. Political issues are highly charged. One possibility for evangelization lies in the hands of Mauritanians who reside in other countries and who may be reached with the Gospel and may be able to influence others of their nationality at home and abroad.

Let us pray for this country. Gracious God, we lift up the country of Mauritania with its many needs. We pray that the economic and social issues—especially the matter of slavery—may be addressed and resolved by strong leaders who are committed to the citizens and not to themselves. We pray for greater spiritual openness and hunger for God, for those who are working to bring Christianity to so many, and for those Mauritanians outside of the country who may be important in sharing the light of the Gospel. We pray for the unreached minorities, nomads, those persecuted, and for those Christians who are working to reach them. We pray for Christian media to proliferate, including Bible translation, the JESUS film, radio and satellite TV broadcasts, and Internet possibilities. We ask all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen.