Boko Haram promotes a version of Islam which makes it "haram", or forbidden, for Muslims to take part in any political or social activity associated with Western society. This includes voting in elections, wearing shirts and trousers or receiving a secular education.
Boko Haram recruits from the very poor people in northern Nigeria, people whose children suffer from malnutrition, from corrupt and harsh government treatment, whose literacy levels are very low, and whose youth have little hope for the future.
It draws its fighters mainly from the Kanuri ethnic group. It has targeted the mostly Christian Igbo people, but has also targeted other Christian groups and even Muslim groups. Many Nigerian people groups live in fear of Boko Haram, of all religions and even in the southern portions of the country.
"The insurgency's gravest toll on Nigeria isn't physical. It's existential. Boko Haram has become a kind of national synonym for fear, a repository for Nigerians' worst anxieties about their society and where it's headed." National Geographic magazine.
The threat coming from Boko Haram may serve as a stimulus for the government to better distribute national wealth to the poor people in the north of the country. Also, it could produce a more enlightened attitude toward the people of the north from police and military factions. These effects aren't likely without prayer.
Christian churches may be able to lead the way in showing how to rise above fear and live confidently, even ministering to Muslim neighbors near and far. Threats can serve as opportunities.
Poor people in northern Nigeria and neighboring countries may receive more attention from their own governments, from NGOs, and from Christian churches and parachurch agencies who wish to serve as the body of Christ in ministering to these people. Perhaps more and better schools will be provided, and of a kind that will be accepted by the people.
The Lord will be honored in Nigeria as the reasons for the rise of Boko Haram are addressed, and as his body, the Church, acts to serve its Muslim neighbors.
* Pray for improving conditions in the northern portions of Nigeria, for an improving standard of living, for the availability of electricity in homes, for fair treatment from police and government agencies, and so forth.
* Pray for Christians to boldly live out their faith by ministering to their Muslim neighbors. Pray they won't live in fear, but will see their opportunities to represent Christ to their neighbors.
* Pray that extremely poor children in the north, some living as beggars, will not be recruited into Boko Haram circles of influence. Pray for their protection, and for escape from poverty.
* Pray the national and state governments of Nigeria will be able to root out corruption in their ranks. Pray that oil revenues will benefit all peoples, including those in the north of the country.
* Pray for protection for all peoples, and especially for the Christians of Nigeria and neighboring countries.
* Pray the leaders of Boko Haram will lose their zeal to harm people in the name of their religion.
* Pray the Lord will open their eyes to the power and goodness of Jesus Christ, or Isa, as he is known in the Koran.
"The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?" Psalm 27: 1