Prime Minister Stephen Harper is asking Canadians to pray for the country's military personnel as they battle ISIS extremists in Northern Iraq.

Harper also called Thursday for support of the Canadian Forces as part of his annual holiday address.

Canada has six CF-18 fighter jets in the Middle East as part of an international effort to help Iraq fight an insurgency by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militants.

Until this week, it also had fighter jets in the Baltics in response to Russia's incursions in Ukraine.

Harper also spoke of the economy, saying more Canadians have more opportunities and better jobs than at any time in the country's history.

But a big focus of his message was on Canada's role overseas.

Harper says Canadians are doing what they are known for — standing up for what is right, defending freedom and protecting the vulnerable.

The prime minister also urged Canadians to give to the less fortunate.