Dear Friends, this is David Telbat. Thanks for joining us for, “How to Pray for the Persecuted Church.” The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is coming up. There are many restrictive countries that are antagonistic toward Christians, and the Bible instructs us to remember those who are in physical chains for the sake of the gospel. But how exactly should we pray for them?
Here are two thoughts to help us pray for the persecuted.
#1. Pray for them as you would like them to pray for you.
In a weekly gathering with our local fellowship, a teacher recently challenged us to begin to exercise our prayer time in more intentional and personal intercessory prayer requests. He seemed to sense everyone’s trepidation, for many of us have a hard time focusing in prayer, especially when it comes to praying for strangers. That’s when he reminded us of another command from Jesus Christ.
Jesus taught us to treat others as we would want to be treated. Can we also apply this to prayer? Pray for others as you want to be prayed for! This was a wonderful and enlightening concept for our group. For the persecuted church specifically, we have only to imagine ourselves on the mission field. In that setting, we can similarly imagine in what way we’d want others to pray for us.
Here are some things I think we’d want others to pray about for us, if we were in a physically dangerous mission field:
- To remain loving in the face of cruelty
- To remain outspoken for Christ in the midst of danger
- To use wisdom in the best ways to convey the gospel when the Truth is restricted
- To remain vigilant against personal sin that could otherwise hinder a ministry
#2. Pray for effective, not trouble-free, ministry.
In my own experiences in sharing the gospel in a wicked world, I have found that there is much opposition, and sometimes that opposition can be a real threat physically. When we stand up for biblical moral principles in our land, our businesses may be targeted, and our reputations and/or families may be defamed. When we share the gospel of grace openly, a variety of anti-Christ movements or governments, sometimes in the name of Christianity, will rise up and slander.
There is no opposition that is comfortable for us to endure, and there is no opposition in foreign countries that is comfortable for distant brothers and sisters to endure, either. However, God’s Word also tells us that suffering is valuable to the body of Christ. Suffering purifies and strengthens our faith. We find out where we truly stand when we are feeling the flames of worldly opposition.
It is because persecution is so valuable to the body of Christ that many have seen in Scripture, and learned from experience, that we are not to primarily pray against the challenges themselves. Suffering for Christ is something we are appointed to (Philippians 1:29) because we don’t belong here, and because our Lord suffered.
Rather than pray for suffering to end, missionaries near and far have followed the biblical example of asking others to pray for their effectiveness through the trials and opposition they face. We are to pray that God’s Word is delivered clearly and plainly, and that those who experience real suffering endure with strengthened faith, so that Christ is all the more glorified.
There is great joy to be found in Christ in the midst of trials. So, we don’t pray that the trials cease, but that true faith in God’s strength is magnified.
Therefore, when searching for how to pray for the Persecuted Church, may we settle into a daily habit of praying for others on the field as we would want to be prayed for, and also that we would pray for their effectiveness as they willingly carry their cross for Christ.
See you on your knees!
Resources to help us in our prayer life:
1) Download a monthly prayer calendar here from the Open Doors Ministry.
2) The Voice of the Martyrs announces the release of the IDOP video, Solitary Prayer, about VOM founder Richard Wurmbrand. This video features excerpts from the new Tortured for Christ movie, to be released in spring 2018. Preview the video here.
Solitary Prayer was filmed in Romania in the very prison where Pastor Richard Wurmbrand spent three years in solitary confinement. His testimony is a tremendous encouragement for believers to stand strong in the face of challenges.
COMING UP: Join us next time for a short story written to remember the persecuted church, “Safe and Sound.” And for the following post, join us for “God’s Protective Hand in New Series—The Leeward Set.”