This month, the focus of our blog is on prayer. As you can see from our daily prayers and our blog posts, we encourage you to pray about your walk with Christ, and to pray for your family, friends, and future spouse. However, one group we have not mentioned yet and often goes unmentioned in today’s society is the persecuted church. The goal of this post is to introduce you to the persecuted church, talk about how to pray for the persecuted church, and reflect on the testimony of the persecuted church.
The Open Doors Ministries website states (2018) “over 75% of the world’s population lives in areas with severe religious restrictions (and many of these people are Christians)”. The persecution of Christians is prevalent in over 60 countries (Open Doors USA, 2018). What type of persecution do they face? Examples of this persecution include prison sentences, various types of torture, hangings, beatings, church shootings, rapes, abductions, and brutal murders of children, all in turn for a person(s) declaring faith in Jesus Christ. This persecution may be delivered by members of the community, family members, government officials, police officers, or terror groups.
Paul (from the Bible) was no stranger to persecution as he endured stoning, beatings, prison sentences, and other forms of torture for proclaiming the name of Jesus. In many of Paul’s letters, he is praying for the Church, and admonishing the people in the churches to pray for one another. The Church is the body of Jesus Christ. This body is made up of all believers, including those in your local church, those in your neighborhood, and those being persecuted across the globe. We have been given the call to pray for the persecuted church. In my times with the LORD, He has been teaching me some important ways to pray for the persecuted church. I will share 3 specific ways we can be praying for the persecuted church.
1) For Courage and Peace
In Ephesians 6: 18b-20, Paul writes, “To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” We are called to pray for believers to be filled with courage and boldness to continue to proclaim to the Gospel in the midst of persecution. Christians facing persecution are human. They have fears and doubts like we do. They are in need of the peace and rest Christ has as they stand in the face of danger.
2) To Know God’s Presence
Additionally, they deeply desire the assurance of Christ’s presence as they continue to proclaim the name of Jesus and face trials. In Genesis 16:13, “[Hagar] gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen[c] the One who sees me.” As Christians face constant persecution, many times they face the very real worry that they have been forgotten. Their voice is often silenced through persecution, and awareness of the persecution they face is often lacking. As you pray for the persecuted church, pray that they know God’s presence; that He has promised to never leave or forsake them, for He is the God who sees and the One who hears.
3) To Know Victory
John 16: 33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Christ warns Christians that we are promised trials in this life. We are promised tribulation and persecution. I know these promises are not in your “favorite promises” book. However, we are also promised the Victory. “We may lose the battle, but with God we’ve won the war” (Bill Itzel, n.d.). As you pray for the persecuted church, pray they will be filled with hope that God is victorious, and since they are in Him, they are also victorious.
As you reflect on these verses and on the persecuted church, I will leave you with a challenge. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, I challenge you to pray for the persecuted church. I challenge you to learn more and do what you can to get involved in supporting them. Browse the resources at the bottom of this post for a start. If you are an unbeliever, I challenge you to reflect on the testimony of the persecuted church. Consider the reasons why so many have risked and even laid down their lives for Jesus Christ. If Christ was not real, why would so many sacrifice all for Him?
Thanks for reading! Please feel free to leave a comment or email us! We would love to hear from you!
In Christ, Meredith