Around the world, many Christians are persecuted — imprisoned, even killed — for their faith.
Currently, there are over 300 million people facing persecution daily.
Sara (not her real name) knows firsthand what it is like to be persecuted. The week before Sara and her husband planned to open a Bible School, four men attacked their family with metal hatchets.
Because of the attacks, Sara had three skull fractures, a punctured eardrum, internal bleeding and the need for stitches.
"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.
Christian persecution comes in the forms of martyrdom, arrests, abductions and abuse, just to name a few. Every day, 13 Christians worldwide are killed because of their faith, 12 churches or Christian buildings are attacked, 12 Christians are unjustly arrested or imprisoned and another five are abducted. And these numbers are growing. According to the Open Doors Annual World Watch List, one in eight Christians worldwide experience high levels of persecution.
As Christians, we need to remember the brothers and sisters in Christ who face persecution.
Because the New Testament was written to persecuted Christians, it shows you how to make a difference for people under attack. In Ephesians 6:18, Paul says to be alert and pray for all of God’s people. The New Testament teaches:
Pray that persecuted Christians would know the hope God gives (Ephesians 1:18).
Pray that Christians facing persecution would rely on God, and not themselves (2 Corinthians 1:7-9).
Pray that persecuted Christians would fearlessly tell others about Jesus (Ephesians 6:20).
Pray that their witness would inspire those who plan to harm them (Acts 16:25, Luke 6:27-31).
Pray that God would provide for the physical needs of persecuted Christians (3 John 2).
Pray that they would experience God’s peace, despite their weakness and current circumstances (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Pray that God would protect them, according to His will (Matthew 26:39).
Pray that God would ultimately rescue them out of dangerous circumstances (Psalm 91:15).
Pray that persecuted Christians would feel deeply connected to Jesus in their suffering (John 15:19-20).
Pray that they would be completely faithful and surrendered to God’s will (Revelation 2:10-11).
Pray that they would have wisdom and discernment for how to approach every situation (Matthew 10:16-18).
Pray that as they share in Christ’s sufferings, they would be able to rejoice in the hope God offers them (1 Peter 4:12-14).
Try to keep a journal with specific prayers that you can return to daily. And, of course, ask God to give you the right words to pray.
Along with praying from the Bible, you can pray for some of these practical needs:
Pray that persecuted Christians would have access to a Bible.
Pray for access to food and shelter.
Pray that God would give persecuted Christians the right words to say.
Pray that they would have opportunities to gather and that God would supply their needs for a community.
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.
Pray for courage for those that remain in their homeland.
Pray for comfort and hope for those that have been separated from each other.
Pray for those imprisoned.
You should never think of prayer as being the least you can do. Prayer for the persecuted church is a powerful way to stand with those in harm's way. Here are four prayers that you can pray daily for persecuted Christians.
Lord, You have warned me through your Son Jesus Christ that those who follow Him may be oppressed and abused because of their faith. I pray for all those that are experiencing this type of persecution. You are a protector and provider for all those that follow you. Please be present for those that are in danger. Please protect and uphold them by your righteous hand.
Father, I know that you have the ability and authority to give whatever I ask for in Jesus name. I intercede for my brothers and sisters that are prevented from accessing food, money, Bibles and other resources. May they see you as the God who provides. Show them an increase of your grace and supply for all their needs so that they may be strengthened to endure.
God, you are near to the lonely and to those being imprisoned for their faith. Thank you for their strength and their courage. As Paul knew, may they know that despite their current reality, you are using all things to advance Your kingdom and are leading them into an inheritance that will never spoil or fade. Lord, have mercy. Give them the courage to remain faithful to you and be ever present in their times of trouble.
Father, you are the God of all comfort. You promise that you will never leave or forsake anyone that knows you. I pray now for my brothers and sisters that have been separated from their friends and family, for your name's sake. Please be near to them and help them experience your powerful comfort and compassion.
Joining The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on the first Sunday of November will help you stay informed about current crises.
The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church originated in the 20th century to raise awareness of the increasing violence, torture, death, "worship restrictions, public humiliation, and social isolation" that some Christians face in atheist states. For more information and to sign up, please visit Open Doors USA.
In addition to prayer, you can strengthen the church and global missions and be a strong source of encouragement to missionaries in several ways.
Educate yourself on where the church is being persecuted, what they are facing, and how you can help.
Financially support an organization working toward resourcing persecuted Christians.
Send a Christian in hiding their first Bible.
Write letters to the government on behalf of persecuted Christians.
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.opendoorsusa.org/resources.
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God calls us to pray for our leaders — that they would submit to His leadership for the sake of His will being done and for the advancement of His kingdom.
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