Around the world, many believers are persecuted -- imprisoned, even killed -- for their faith.
Since Jesus laid down His life, 43 million Christians have become martyrs.
Right now 200 million people face persecution for believing in Jesus and 60% of those people are children, according to Christians in Crisis International Ministry, a prayer advocacy ministry for persecuted believers.
Sara (not her real name) knows first hand what it is like to be persecuted. The week before Sara and her husband planned to open a Bible School, 4 men attacked their family with metal hatchets.
Because of the attacks, Sara had 3 skull fractures, a punctured eardrum, internal bleeding and needed stitches badly.
"Before the attacks, I considered myself sensitive to the persecuted church," Sara said. "But then I woke up one night and I was one." The experience strengthened Sara's resolve to support those suffering for their faith.
How to Pray from the Bible
Because the New Testament was written to persecuted believers, it is filled with examples of how to pray for our brothers and sisters under attack.
Here are 5 examples from Ephesians:
- Please pray persecuted believers would know the hope God gives (Ephesians 1:18).
- Pray the Holy Spirit would strengthen them (Ephesians 3:16).
- Please pray persecuted believers would know how much God loves them (Ephesians 3:17)
- Pray they would know how to share the gospel (Ephesians 6:19).
- Please pray persecuted believers would fearlessly tell others about Jesus (Ephesians 6:20).
To create additional ways to pray from the Bible, take any book from the New Testament (except the gospels). Search for verses with the word "pray." Then use those verses to create prayer requests, just as in the 5 examples above.
How to Pray for Practical Needs
Along with the example prayers in the Bible, there are some practical needs persecuted believers would love your prayers for:
- Please pray persecuted believers would have access to a Bible.
- Pray they have the courage to remain in their homeland.
- Please pray for believers who have been rejected by family and friends. Pray that God would surround them with a new Christian "family" who loves them and supports them emotionally and physically.
- Pray for God to be an advocate for women who are socially vulnerable or have lost the custody of their children because of their faith.
- Please pray that God would provide persecuted believers with jobs and safe places to live.
Learn more ways to pray for the persecuted church and read news alerts on current crises by visiting the Web site for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
Support in Addition to Prayer
"These people we call the persecuted church are people just like us," Sara says, remembering when she was attacked. "We need to pray for them. It weighs on them when they know the police are after them, but it also weighs on them when they can't feed their families."
"When we support them, it sends them the message 'I am not forgotten -- not by God and not by my brothers and sisters."
- Send a believer in hiding their first Bible.
- Write letters to the government on behalf of persecuted believers.
- Help pay the legal costs to defend a Christian falsely accused.
- Help provide for a family whose father has been imprisoned or killed for his faith. (Help is given until they can find alternative means of support.)
Find a list of other Christian organizations united to help in these ways and more at www.persecutedchurch.org.