The immense value of prayer in the life of the Christian and of the Church cannot be overstated! Jesus regularly set aside time to come before his Father in heaven to pray; Every Christian today has a responsibility to follow his example.
Time and again as visits are made to those who suffer for their faith, the #1 request we hear is that we pray for and with them. Persecuted Christians ask us to pray for them because they sincerely believe in the power of intercession. As one persecuted believer observed, 'When God's people pray, things happen'.
We offer the following suggestions to help you pray for the Suffering Church:
1) Don’t pray for persecution to end. The Bible teaches and Jesus emphasises, that persecution is here to stay (John 16:33; Rev. 6:9-11), and that it is to be expected by every believer (2 Tim. 3:12).
2) Do pray generally for:
- The church in nations where persecution is prevalent.
- The Body of Christ, remembering that together we are one (1 Cor. 12:12-27).
- Mission organisations which serve persecuted Christians.
- The leadership in those lands (1 Tim. 2:1-4).
- Those who persecute God’s people (Matt. 5:44).
3) Do pray specifically for those who are enduring persecution for their faith, remembering that they are real people, in real and devastating situations. Ask that they:
- Be given courage and strength to withstand their circumstances and remain faithful to their Lord and Saviour (Rom. 8:28-39; Luke 22:31,32).
- Be given wisdom to understand the real reason for their suffering (John 15:18-25).
- Know the near presence of God and the comforting of the Holy Spirit (Heb. 13:5; Mat. 28:20).
- Will experience profound joy in the midst of their suffering (Matt. 5:11,12; Rom. 5:3).
- Will have peace over their loved ones and be able to hand them over to the Lord as they are in prison (1 Pet. 5:7).
4) Pray for the wives and children of imprisoned Christian men and also those who have become widows and orphans as a consequence of persecution. Often their suffering is more acute in that they not only have to deal with bereavement, but also the financial hardship that comes through losing the 'bread-winner'.
In conclusion, it must be emphasised that this list is by no means exhaustive. While all of the prayer points above are valid and important, we must also pray as the Spirit of God leads us; furthermore we must be willing to act upon His prompting. If this means that our actions must go beyond prayer (and invariably this is what happens!), then, so be it (Matt. 25:35-40)!