Friday, November 17, 2006

Praying for the Persecuted Church

I posted earlier this week about the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. I want to try to make posting about the persecuted church a more regular thing, because I know it's all too easy for me to move on and let the suffering of my brothers and sisters around the world drop off my radar screen. Out of sight, out of mind and all that. But God doesn't leave forgetting about them as an option open to me--so I'm writing to keep it at the forefront of my own mind, and perhaps yours, too.

We all know the first thing we can do for persecuted Christians is pray. We say it's important, but do we mean it? Do we do it? As said, "The most we can do is the least we can do — pray." We can make a difference in the lives of persecuted Christians around the world because we have the privilege of interceding for them before the throne of our sovereign and loving Father.

And we don't have to settle for praying generic prayers like, "Lord, please help them." Nor do we need to pray, "Lord, be with them" (it's an unnecessary prayer for Christians--He already is). In this Internet age, information about their struggles is at our fingertips. We have access to tons of stories and testimonies; we can receive free updates from organizations like The Voice of the Martyrs who can suggest helpful direction for our prayers.

Of course God hears our generic prayers, and of course He knows better than we do what the persecuted church really needs. But knowing specific things to pray about can be beneficial in so many ways, as Mark Lauterbach explains here. Don't you feel more motivated to pray--doesn't your prayer life seem more vibrant and meaningful--when you know what to pray for? Or to put it another way: Would you rather have someone pray, "Lord, please help her and bless her" or would it mean more if they prayed for specific help in ways applicable to your particular situation? I know which I'd rather have.

The needs of the persecuted church are vast and varied, so of course we can't pray that specifically for each one. But we can get a lot more detailed than "help them." Here are some ideas to get you started:
  • For our persecuted brothers and sisters who are willing to serve Christ in spite of arrest, torture and even death--pray for strength for them to remain faithful
  • That government officials in restricted and hostile nations will come to know Christ personally
  • That ministry efforts in restricted nations will succeed in presenting the gospel and strengthening the church
  • The successful delivery of Bibles, study Bibles, New Testaments, training materials and more to the persecuted church
  • That the church would continue to grow in spite of persecution
  • That persecuted believers would grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ so that their lives will be a powerful testimony to everyone
  • That they would be open-handed and have a heart of love even toward their enemies—that they would share the love of Christ even with those who persecute them

To go deeper, check out these Critical Prayer Requests for Strategic Nations--which includes more specific requests for governments and churches in restricted/hostile nations from Afghanistan to Egypt to Vietnam. You can also check out VOM's Persecution Blog for regular updates and prayer needs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the information. Our church is starting to pray for Persecuted Christian beginning April 2007. Blessings