Prayer For My Persecuted Brothers In Christ
5 Reasons All Christians Should Pray for ISIS
You’ve hopefully already been praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ in the Middle East. But have you been praying for the members of ISIS?
I obviously don’t mean that you should be praying for their success or for God to bless their violence. I’m talking about praying for their souls, that God would have mercy on them, and that they would find forgiveness and new life in Christ.
When crimes are committed, it’s usually our first instinct to pray for the victims – and that’s good. But we should also remember that, when viewed from eternity, the consequences are ultimately far worse for the perpetrators.
How wonderful would it be if the ISIS militants – the same ones who have terrorized, beheaded, and even crucified Christians – found redemption in Jesus! What a witness it would be to the saving power of God!
Here are 5 reasons all Christians need to be praying for the ISIS militants:
1) Jesus told us to love our enemies and to pray for our persecutors
Jesslee Cuizon / Flickr
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5.43-45)
This teaching is just as radical today as it was when Our Lord first gave it to us 2000 years ago. And yes, Jesus meant exactly what he said: we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us – and that includes the members of ISIS right now.
While this may be hard, this actually goes straight to the heart of the Gospel: Jesus came not simply for justice, but for redemption. As Christians, we should be working and praying for the same thing.
2) Remember that St. Paul was originally a persecutor of Christians
Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
Saul, as St. Paul was known originally, was a zealous persecutor of Christians: Scripture says he was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” (Acts 9.1)
While on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians, Jesus appeared to him, literally knocking him to the ground, and asked him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9.3ff)
When Jesus told the Christian Ananias that Saul would be coming to him, Ananias was scared: “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” (Acts 9.
13-14) But Jesus explained to Ananias: “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.” (Acts 9.15)
St. Paul went on to be one of the greatest Apostles, taking the Gospel across the Mediterranean world, and writing half the books of the New Testament.
Just imagine the incredible good God could do for the Gospel today if the leading ISIS militants were converted to the Gospel.
3) We’re all sinners saved only by the grace of God
Thomas Hawk / Flickr
For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3.22-24)
If we have a relationship with Christ, it’s not because we it, but only and entirely because of God’s grace.
The ISIS militants are not worthy of God, but neither are we, and that’s why we all need Jesus.
4) Christ died for them, and God desires all people to be saved
Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons[God] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2.4-6)
So, how many people does God desire to be saved? And for how many people did Jesus give himself as a ransom?
All people. Everybody. And that includes the members of ISIS.
If God desires for them to be saved, then we should, too.
5) Hell is a terrible place, Heaven is sublime – and both are permanent
John Martin / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
“Weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8.12, et al.), “the lake that burns with fire and sulfur” (Revelation 21.8), and “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25.46). These are just some of the ways that Scripture describes that terrible but real place, hell.
The Bible describes heaven, on the other hand, as wonderful: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.'” (Revelation 21.4-5)
You obviously want avoid hell and go to heaven. You should want everyone to do that.
The ISIS militants could be earning for themselves a particularly bad place in hell. But they, anyone else, can find redemption in Jesus and change the destiny of their soul for all eternity.
We should be praying that they do. We should be praying that everyone does.
God have mercy on us all.
5 Powerful Prayers To Pray For Persecuted Christians
Our hearts yearn for a way to ease the hardship of Christians who are discriminated against, harassed, unjustly arrested, beaten, imprisoned or even killed by regimes who oppose Jesus Christ.
When we read headlines about people groups being persecuted for their faith, it may seem—at first glance—that there’s nothing we can do.
After all, in many cases, we live thousands of miles away and we often feel over-extended in just managing our own families and responsibilities.
Nevertheless, our hearts yearn for a way to ease the hardship of Christians who are discriminated against, harassed, unjustly arrested, beaten, imprisoned or even killed by regimes who oppose Jesus Christ.
Fortunately, the Bible provides us with fitting examples of how Christians can make a difference for persecuted believers. One of the most powerful ways to support Christians facing hardship, of course, is prayer.
In Ephesians 6:18, for example, Paul instructs believers to be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. In the next 2 verses, Paul requests more specific prayer for himself as he faces persecution.
“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
In this passage and in many other places, we find the Bible offers practical insight for how to pray for those facing persecution including these 5 compiled below.
1. Pray that whatever their circumstances, God will give persecuted Christians the right words.
In Ephesians 6:19-20, Paul asks fellow believers to “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
2. Pray that persecuted Christians will understand and find peace in the sufficiency of God’s grace, even in their weaknesses.
While facing physical threat, especially, Christians may be put into scenarios where they must make instantaneous choices under great pressure.
For this reason, we pray that the persecuted church would understand the promises of 2 Corinthians 12:9 which says, “’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
3. Pray that Christians facing hardship will draw from a source of power larger than themselves.
Christians facing persecution often have very little control over their lives, including their own safety and health.
They often battle against government accusers that do not provide them the right to a fair trial or representation that is more prevalent in the Western world.
Because of this, it’s critical to pray that believers in trying circumstances are able to see, Paul, that their hardship helps them rely on a God who is far more powerful than them.
“For we were so utterly burdened beyond out strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.” Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:7-9, “But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”
4. Pray God would be present with persecuted Christians in their hardship, protecting them according to His will.
In Matthew 26:39, Jesus Himself faced an unjust trial. Even He prayed to God, “My Father, if it is possible let this cup pass from me,” which is the first part of his prayer that inspires us to ask God to deliver persecuted Christians from harm.
At the same time, the second part of Jesus’ prayer goes hand-in-hand with praying this request. “Yet not my will, but yours be done.” Part of our prayer can be that God will deliver Christians from chains, as he did for Peter in Acts 12.
But we also pray that if God does not see fit to supernaturally intervene in such a way, that we will intervene to strengthen these believers no matter the outcome.
5. Pray their witness would inspire those who seek to harm them.
In Luke 6:27-31, the apostle said, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” When Christians are able to maintain perspective this, their actions are often noticed by those who persecute them.
In the case of Paul and Silas, in Acts 16:25, their behavior—praying and singing and praise in the face of hardship—were observed by both their jailers and other prisoners.
In acting faith despite their circumstances, they were able to share the gospel with their captors in an opportune moment, and the jailer and his family came to believe, as well (Acts 16:34).
Bible Verses for the International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
Content manager for Bible Gateway[See the Bible Gateway Blog post, Standing Strong Through the Storm: Stories from the Persecuted Church] [See the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Staggering Picture of Christian Persecution: An Interview with Johnnie Moore]
[See books in the Bible Gateway Store on the subject of Christian persecution]
The International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (#IDOP) is a time set apart to remember millions of Christians around the world who face persecution for their faith in Jesus Christ.[See the Bible Gateway Blog post, International Day(s) of Prayer for the Persecuted Church]
Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
Hebrews 13:3 (NIV)
“Persecution is the daily reality of at least 100 million Christians around the world,” says Godfrey Yogarajah, executive director, World Evangelical Alliance, Religious Liberty Commission (@WEARLC1).
“These Christians, who face routine harassment and difficulties, often suffer in silence and isolation. Over the years, the IDOP has served as a platform to highlight their stories and advocate their plight.
Moreover, in so doing, the IDOP has also been a source of solidarity and encouragement to persecuted Christians by reminding them that they are part of a larger, global family of believers.”[See the Bible Gateway Blog post, I Am N: An Interview with Cole Richards and Jason Peters]
…We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed. We are confused, but we aren’t depressed. We are harassed, but we aren’t abandoned. We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out. We always carry Jesus’ death around in our bodies so that Jesus’ life can also be seen in our bodies….
2 Corinthians 4:8-12 (CEB)
While the number of Christians martyred for their faith every year is difficult to precisely assess, Open Doors USA estimates that, in 2015, more than 7,000 Christians were killed specifically because of their faith.
Open Doors, with its list of countries where Christians are most in need of prayer, urges Christians and churches to remember those killed and pray for those in more than 60 countries still facing persecution because of their faith (see the Open Doors page).
“Under Caesar’s Sword” is a three-year, collaborative global research project by the University of Notre Dame to discover and draw attention to the ways Christian communities around the world respond to the severe violation of their religious freedom.
These strategies vary widely, ranging from nonviolent protest movements of the kind that Pope John Paul II led in communist Poland, to the complex diplomacy of Christian churches in China, to simply fleeing from persecution en masse, as Christians have in Iraq.
The project aims to raise solidarity with persecuted Christians worldwide and to help them respond justly and effectively. Watch the documentary film.
The above slide presentation is a production of the Office of Social Justice, a ministry of the Christian Reformed Church.
The following organizations have resources ready to help you help others become more prayerfully aware of the plight of Christian brothers and sisters around the world:
Jesus Warns and Teaches About Persecution
- Matthew 10:16-42; Luke 14:25-35; John 15:18-16:4
The Apostles and First Missionaries are Persecuted
- Acts 4:1-22 – Christ’s supremacy threatens the supremacy of the totalitarian and theocratic leadership. (vv. 2, 17)
- Acts 5:12-41 – Power and attraction of the gospel arouses jealousy. (v. 17)
- Acts 6:7-15 – Success of ministry arouses competition.
- Acts 7:54-8:4 – Stephen becomes the Christian Church’s first martyr; persecution breaks out.
- Acts 12:1-4 – Herod persecutes apostles for political gain.
- Acts 12:1-18 – While Peter is in prison, the church prays.
- Acts 13:49-14:7 – Opposition to the gospel forces missionaries to flee.
- Acts 16:16-34 – The gospel threatens trade, economic prosperity and the fortune-telling industry (v. 19); false accusations lead to missionaries being severely beaten. (v. 22)
- Acts 17:1-15 – Missionary success arouses jealousy; missionaries forced to flee. (v. 5)
- Acts 19:23-32 – The gospel threatens trade, economic prosperity and the idol industry; idol-makers incite riot that goes control.
- Acts 21:27-36 – Enemies of the gospel incite hatred and violence; Paul beaten and arrested.
Possible Forms that Persecution May Take
- By slander (evil report). (Psalm 31:13; Job 19:18; 55:12-14; Luke 6:22)
- Shame. Open embarrassment, dishonor or disgrace. Manner in which our Lord was accused of being conceived (born out-of-wedlock); also, manner in which his nakedness was openly displayed on the cross. (Hebrews 13:13; 11:26)
- Falsely accused. (Psalm 35:11; 27:12; Matthew 5:11; Luke 23:2, 5, 10; Mark 14:55-60; Acts 6:13; 16:19-23; 26:2, 7)
- Ensnare through deceit, trapping, tricks. (Daniel 6:4-5; Luke 11:54; Matthew 10:16-18)
- Object of conspiracy. (2 Samuel 15:12; Genesis 37:18; 2 Corinthians 11:32; Acts 9:23)
- Mocked, scorned, scoffed, and sneered at. (Psalm 42:3; Job 12:4; Matthew 27:29, 31, 41; Acts 2:13; 17:18, 32; Hebrews 11:36)
- Betrayed, treated treacherously. (Matthew 24:10; Luke 21:16; Psalm 41:9)
- Despised, to have contempt for, to loathe, to think nothing of, to consider without honor. (1 Corinthians 1:28; 4:10c)
- Hated by family. (Matthew 10:21, 34-36; Micah 7:6; Luke 21:16)
- Hated by people. (Luke 21:17; Matthew 10:22; Job 19:19)
- Defamation of character, libel, slander, evil report. (Psalm 31:13; Job 19:19; 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Corinthians 4:13)
- Feared by own people. (Acts 9:26)
- Subject to special trials. (1 Corinthians 4:9-14; 2 Corinthians 11:23-28)
- Imprisoned. (Luke 21:12; Acts 4:3; 5:18; 12:4; 16:24; 2 Corinthians 6:5; 11:23c; Hebrews 11:36b)
- Beaten. (Acts 5:40; 16:23; 2 Corinthians 6:5; 11:24; Matthew 10:17)
- Contradicting. (Acts 13:45)
- Stir against. (Acts 6:12; 13:50; 14:2, 19; 19:23, 25-26, 29; 21:27)
- Charges pressed. (Acts 18:12; Matthew 10:17-18)
- Threatened. (Acts 4:18, 21; 5:40)
- Stoned. (Acts 7:58-59; 14:19; 2 Corinthians 11:25; Hebrews 11:37)
- Afflictions. (2 Timothy 3:11; Psalm 34:19)
- Expulsion. (Acts 13:50; John 16:2a)
- Exhaustion, extreme fatigue. (2 Corinthians 11:27)
- Hunger and thirst. (2 Corinthians 11:27; 1 Corinthians 4:11)
- Spectacle. (1 Corinthians 4:9; Acts 9:16; 20:23; 21:11; Hebrews 10:33a)
- Suffer physical need. (1 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 6:4; Philippians 4:12; Hebrews 11:37)
- Martyrdom. (Luke 21:16; Acts 7:59; 12:2; John 16:2)
- Afflictions. (2 Timothy 1:8; 4:5; Matthew 24:9; Psalm 34:19; 2 Corinthians 4:17; 6:4; Hebrews 10:32-33; 11:25, 37; Colossians 1:24; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; James 5:10)
- Poverty. (2 Corinthians 6:10; Philippians 4:12)
- Loss of property and material goods. (Hebrews 10:34b)
The above list is a production of the World Evangelical Alliance, Religious Liberty Commission.
The above video is a production of The Voice of the Martyrs.
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Christians Persecuting Other Christians
Many Christians suffer persecutions in their daily walk with Christ. This should not be surprising.
Jesus predicted it for those who believed in Him (John 15:20) and the Apostle Peter told the church that they should not be surprised when they suffer insults because of their faith in Christ (I Peter 4:14).
What is surprising is that other Christians receive persecutions – and some of the fiercest at that – from other Christians. This ought not to be so.
We are told to put on the whole armor of God and to protect ourselves from spiritual attacks (Eph 6:10-18). The only offensive weapon mentioned is the sword which is the Word of God.
This weapon is intended to fight off spiritual attacks from wicked spirits but all too often believers wield this weapon against other Christians, however this is not the intended use for this weapon. The last thing that Christ would have us to do is to attack other Christians using the Word of God (Bible).
Yes, we should challenge false teachings and false gospels when we see them and the Bible tells us that there will be many of these in the last days, but we are not to attack each other over non-essentials.When Christians fight with each other over things that are not central to the gospel of Jesus Christ (Calvary, Jesus atoning sacrifice, etc.), then we send a strong message to unbelievers – that we can not even get along with each other. Where is Christ in that!
Some Christians go so far as to sue one another in a court of law. This grieves God greatly.
Some Christians go so far as to sue one another in a court of law. This grieves God greatly. The Corinthian church was so carnal that they were fighting and arguing over who had the best spiritual gifts, even though these gifts were from God and not gifts that they themselves had developed.
The were suing each other too, as Paul angrily stated in I Corinthian 6:5-6, “I say this to shame you.
Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!” By doing this in full view of non-believers, we shame the reputation of Christ.
We are redeemed, but many times we don’t live the redeemed and we don’t reflect the Redeemer. Gandhi once said that “I love your Christ…it is your Christians that I don’t very much.” This is because he saw the two-faced nature of many believers.
Knowledge Puffs Up
I receive a lot of emails. I have people occasionally contact me and say, I am wrong. One person actually told me that I was going to hell because of what I believed.
Another told me that he went to Bible College and that he was wiser now being almost 60 years old and that I didn’t know what I was talking about. The point is that God anoints people, not degrees.
The more a person learns about the Bible, the greater the danger that they can become puffed up by that knowledge. Knowledge can often make a person full of pride.I had a professor in my Master’s Degree course who said that “No one in my class can get an A…no one is that smart!” You could not tell this man anything I was sure. The day that we feel we can’t learn from another Christian is the day that we will stop growing in grace and knowledge.
I love the acrostic F.A.T. which stands for being Faithful, Available, and Teachable. God must draw close to those who remain faithful, are available to be used by Him, and have a teachable nature. For me, the more I have learned about the Bible, the more I see just how much I don’t know yet. The Bible is an inexhaustible source of knowledge that in a hundred lifetimes I could never master.
Paul battled with the carnal Corinthians who felt superior to each other over gifts and over knowledge. Paul knew considerably more than they did but he did not flaunt it over them. Paul said “We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.
Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know” (I Cor 8:1-2). Pride was the cause of Satan’s fall. He was lifted up and wanted to be over God Himself. Pride is essentially at the root of all sin. God resists the proud but He gives grace to the humble.
Literally, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6, Prov. 3:34).
He Who is Not Against Us is for Us
Jesus saw some petty jealousies even in His day. His disciples came and told Jesus that others were teaching and preaching in His name. They approached Jesus with the attitude of “How dare they!” Jesus said “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:50).
Aren’t we really on the same side? Don’t we all need to get along? Instead, we fight over peripheral issues that are not essential to salvation. I heard it put this way, “The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.” That should be Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Paul boasted to know nothing else by Jesus Christ and Him crucified (I Cor 2:2).
Some argue that unless you have spoken in tongues you have not been truly filled with the spirit. Others believe that anyone who doesn’t believe in the rapture is wrong.Still others believe in healing ministries today while others disagree; some churches believe in tithing, others don’t; some believe it is wrong to eat pork, others disagree; some worship on Saturday while others worship on Sunday; some believe in the Millennium while others do not.
I told a church I visited once that some are millennialist (believe in a thousand year reign), some are amillennialist (no Millennium), and so on. I told the congregation that I was a pan-millennialist; that it will all pan out in the end.
Love One Another
Jesus said that a house divided can not stand…and Christians are sometimes divided over issues that are not central to Calvary.
The Body of Christ should not be divided against itself, yet many times we are attacking each other over beliefs or any belief that differs from ours. I love to quote the saying, “In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity.
” This means that above all things should be love. We all have differences…yet these differences should not make us divided; they should make us complete.
Paul spoke about the gifts of the Spirit and said that the hand can not say to the foot that I have no need for you…or the eye can not tell the ear that you are not needed. No, we all need each other. We should be praying for one another.
Paul wrote in I Corinthians 12:25 “that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.“ Jesus told us that the world would know us if we loved one another – not if we argued against each other (John 13:35). That is exactly what Satan must delight in.
What would Christ say to us if He returned to see that we are fighting over issues that are not essential to our own salvation and to tell others about Christ for the Great Commission? I think He would honestly be ashamed of us or worse yet, angry that we can not get alone with each other.
He expects that from those who don’t have the Holy Spirit – but for believers who have Christ in them?
The book of Romans has much to say about living with differences among Christians.
1 “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.”4 -6 “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day a. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord.”
10 “You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.”
13 “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”
19 “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
22 “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.”
2 “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.”
7 “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
The Apostle John spelled it out clearly, leaving no room for doubt about who are Christ’s: “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen” (I John 4:20).
If we are constantly attacking other believers, then the love of God is not indwelling in us…and if anyone hates their brother or sister for their beliefs, then God says that they are a liar if they say the love God. No one loves God and hates his brother or sister. That is totally inconsistent with Christianity.In I John 1:6, John is saying that we are living in duplicity or being a hypocrite if we say that we are in fellowship with God and yet do not live it with other believers: “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.
” Can it be any clearer? Jesus commanded us to pray for our enemies; how much more should we be praying for other believers and loving one another?
I remember having sword fights as a boy. We were quite swashbuckling as we fended off the pirates, but when Christians wield the sword of the Word of God (Bible) against other Christians, then we are misusing the only offensive weapon in the armor of God at our disposal.
Instead of fighting off the enemy, we are attacking each other and wielding our sword in a sense of superiority (pride) because of our knowledge (which puffs up and makes us vain). I hope I do not prove my point but I must wonder if this article initiates persecution. It truly would not surprise me….
but may the love of God forbid it.
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PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS—Why and how should we pray and act for the suffering church?
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“…as followers of Christ, we must take a bold step: we must shed the ‘enemy image’ we have of those who persecute us. Because the moment we have an enemy image of anyone, God's love can no longer work through us to reach them! We must pray for and even love those who hate us.”
Each year, millions of Christians around the world participate in an International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. For those of you who take part, I want to thank you on behalf of all those millions of beleaguered Christians living in areas where faith costs the most.
We have to speak for the 200 million Christians worldwide who live under persecution (examples). We have to speak against those oppressive regimes where atrocities still happen, because we do not speak up enough as the church in the free world. We do not speak enough to God through prayer about the issue, and we do not speak enough to and through our governments.
what is the solution? The Bible clearly teaches us it is forgiveness and reconciliation, bathed in prayer
Around the world the situation is the same: the suffering cannot cope without our help. But what is the solution? The Bible clearly teaches us it is forgiveness and reconciliation, bathed in prayer.[Note: A Biblical study on how to pray for the persecuted church is presented below.]
I was in a Christian town totally destroyed in one night by a wild Muslim mob, leaving 10,000-20,000 Christians homeless, seeing all their possessions destroyed. We had a big gathering of Christians and Muslims right afterward, and we spoke about forgiveness and reconciliation.
Why? Because life goes on even during and after persecution! We have to look for those opportunities, not just the needs, not just the crises, but the opportunities and the solutions that God gives to those who are dedicated to him.
On that very same day, I received a telephone call from the main Imam [Muslim leader] of that country. He said, “Brother Andrew, can you please come and pray with me? I am very sick!”So I decided to take a local pastor with me who had just been released from prison; a man who had suffered because of the Muslims. Together, along with other members of our Open Doors team, we went to see him. There I explained exactly who Jesus was.
I gave a testimony of my personal faith in Christ. Then I began to pray, and I laid my hands on this Imam, and as I was praying I felt a hand on top of my hand. It was the pastor who had just come from prison.
What a perfect illustration of the teaching of Jesus: pray for those who persecute you.
Christians have an answer in those situations that the world does not know anything about. But as followers of Christ, we must take a bold step: we must shed the “enemy image” we have of those who persecute us. Because the moment we have an enemy image of anyone, God's love can no longer work through us to reach them! We must pray for and even love those who hate us.
I’m willing to die for Him, and I’m also willing to die for you
So in reality, the way Christians live out their lives before others is the most powerful message we can share. It far transcends the words or methods we may try to employ to impact a needy world in the face of the challenging question, “Who is God?”.
Christians must be able to point to our hearts and say, “Here is God! He lives in me.
And I'm willing to die for Him, and I'm also willing to die for you because that's what He did for us on the cross at Calvary!” Nothing else will work in this age of confrontation unless and until every Christian is not only willing to give their lives, but one day actually does it.
I challenge the Christians of the world to pray for their persecuted brothers and sisters, to act on their behalf and to live out the life of Jesus in this needy world around us. Only then we will see a radical change take place in the lives of people. Only then we will see the love of Christ replace the hatred of this world.
Brother Andrew, founder of Open Doors
How to Pray for the Persecuted Church
For their physical protection and deliverance.
Matthew 26:39 “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”
Acts 12:5 “So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.”
Philippians 1:19 “For I know that this shall turn out for my deliverance [from jail] through your prayers.”Philemon 22 “I hope that through your prayers I shall be given to you [from jail].”
Romans 15:30-31 “Now I urge you, brethren… to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered from those who are disobedient in Judea”.
God predicted persecution:
Acts 20:23-24 “the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course”
And the suffering came:
Acts 21:30-31 “And all the city was aroused, and the people rushed together; and taking hold of Paul, they dragged him the temple; and… were seeking to kill him.”
That God would give them the right words and that they would fearlessly make Christ known
Here Paul tells how to pray for him when he was suffering for Christ in jail—notice his prayer was not for release.
Ephesians 6:19-20 “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
[See our Effective Evangelism section]
Colossians 4:2-4 “Devote yourselves to prayer… praying at the same time for us as well, that God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; in order that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.”
That they will see God's grace as sufficient and God's power perfected in their weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
That they would love Christ's appearing all the more
2 Timothy 4:5-8 “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
Hebrews 11:35 “…others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection”.
That they will rejoice in sharing the sufferings of Jesus so that they will rejoice even more when Christ is revealed
Hebrews 10:34 “…accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one.”Matthew 5:12 “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
I Peter 4:13 “but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.”
That they will endure
Hebrews 10:36 “For you have need of endurance.”
That they will choose ill-treatment and the reproach of Christ, not pleasures of sin
Hebrews 11:24-26 “Moses… (chose) rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.”
That they will arm themselves with this purpose: to suffer so as to eradicate sin
1 Peter 4:1 “arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in flesh has ceased from sin.”
Hebrews 5:8 “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.”
That they will love Christ far more than life itself
Revelation 12:10-11 “they overcame (Satan) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.”
Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Acts 20:24 “I (Paul) do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course.”
That they will love their enemies
Luke 6:27-31 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
That they not enter into temptation—an easy possibility under the stress of persecution (Luke 22:39-45 – Jesus in the garden)
That they will rejoice that they are considered worthy to suffer for HIS name
Acts 5:41 “So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.”
That they will remember they were made for such persecution
Acts 14:22 “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
Philippians 1:29 “For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”
That they will live the joy of the Lord before their persecutors
Acts 16:25 “But about midnight Paul and Silas (in jail) were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.”
Philippians 1:28 “…in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.”
That they will remember their unbelievable future glory
Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
That they would learn to more completely trust in God
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead”
That they would rejoice that they bear in their bodies the “brand marks of Christ”
Galations 6:17 “From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.”
That they would rejoice in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's sufferings
Colossians 1:24 “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions.”
Note: Our sufferings do not add to the atoning worth of Jesus' sufferings. Rather, His sufferings are not known to the world, and so we suffer to bring that news to those His sufferings were meant to save.
This Biblical study on how to pray for the persecuted church was submitted by a friend of Films for Christ, a pastor who prefers to remain anonymous.
More about persecution
Brother Andrew, a Dutchman whose real name is Anne van der Bijl, has always been a trailblazer. He made history during the early days of the Cold War when in 1955 he began “smuggling” Bibles into Communist Eastern Europe.
On the last day of his first trip, as he sat reading his Bible, he says that the Lord spoke to him through Revelation 3:2 to “strengthen what remains and is on the point of death.
” His delivery of one suitcase of Christian literature to the suffering church in Poland was the humble beginning of Open Doors with Brother Andrew, now an international ministry that brings literature and much-needed assistance to Christians living in difficult circumstances in 58 countries around the world.
Authors: First portion provided by Brother Andrew, founder of Open Doors, via Assist Communications, PO Box 2126, Garden Grove, CA 92842-2126, USA. Second portion provided by a friend of Films for Christ, a pastor who wishes to remain anonymous.
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