Prayer For Those That Persecute Us
Praying For Those That Persecute Us: Bible Study and Sample Prayers
Undoubtedly the most difficult people to pray for are those that persecute us. Praying for the lovely people is just much easier. Even so, we are called to pray for everyone.
When you read through the Book of Psalms you see that David continually prayed for those who persecuted him. In some cases he asked that their hearts would be softened and in others he asked that the Lord pronounce judgment upon them (e.g. Psalms 109). What does the Bible teach about persecution? What should our attitude be? How should we pray for the persecutors?
Jesus Spoke of Persecution and the Persecuted
During the Earthly ministry of Jesus, He often spoke of what was to come when He left to be with the Father.
He warned the Apostles and His many disciples that life would no longer be easy for them that chose to follow Him. He said that people would hate them because of Him.
During His famous Sermon on the Mount He even reminded them that the prophets before them were persecuted for righteousness sake.
Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Later in the same chapter of Matthew, Jesus went into a little more detail regarding the reality of the persecution to come and He told them how they should respond. You can read about that in Matthew 5:35-48.
Continuing on in the book of Matthew Jesus tells the Apostles once again that He is sending them out into a world which will hate them. He warns them that leaders will judge them. Then He encourages them with the promise that the Spirit of the Father will be with them and will speak for them.
Matthew 10:19-20 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
Take up your cross
Constant reminders to His disciples are recorded throughout the gospel accounts as well as the Book of Acts. For example, Jesus uses the metaphor that whoever follows Him will need to “take up his cross”.
He even goes a little deeper to say that “whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.
” (Mark 8:35) I how Luke puts it a little differently:
Luke 14: 25-33 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So wise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
So the disciples of Jesus’ day were forewarned of the cost to be a disciple. As Christians today we are privileged to have something that they did not have – the completed Word of God.
As we study daily in the Word we should be learning the things that Jesus taught as well as all of the other men in the Bible as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).
Many of these holy men of God endured great persecution on a daily basis. These things have been written for our learning.
How to Respond to Persecution
Sometimes we can relate to those who have gone before us as a testimony of faith and endurance. We can also learn from their teaching and admonishment as to how we should respond to persecution. Not long ago my husband preached on this exact subject. You can listen to his message here: Persecution. Regarding persecution, the Bible says we should:
Examples of Prayers for the Persecutors
Jesus prayed for his persecutors. Perhaps one of His most famous prayers was uttered when he faced certain death, even the death on the cross:
Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus, was no stranger to persecution, mostly because before his conversion he was the lead persecutor (see Acts 7:55-60 for the account of Stephen’s stoning – Saul was the “young man” at whom the witnesses threw their clothes; a sign of respect for the leader). After conversion and throughout Paul’s missionary travels he asked that the Churches pray for him, that he might overcome his own persecutors and those whom try to quash his message. Two such requests are documented in Romans and 1 Thessalonians:
Romans 15:30-32 Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; 31 That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; 32 That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.
1 Thessalonians 3:1-2 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: 2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.
As we travel through life as a Christian we will be faced with persecution for our love and devotion to Jesus. We can learn from those who have gone before us as to what we should expect and how to keep the right attitude when responding to persecution. Our greatest teacher is our Savior Jesus.
Even after He was beaten beyond recognition, He raised a prayer to the Father in Heaven to forgive those who persecuted Him. Jesus prayed for His persecutors in His last hours. He was not thinking of Himself. He did not grumble nor complain. He prayed for them! And then He endured the cruel death on the cross – he was obedient even unto death (Philippians 2:8) .
Do you know Jesus? Will you come to Him today? The persecution that we are dealt as a follower of Jesus cannot compare at all with what He did for us. He took the nails for me. He took the nails for you.The least we can do is endure the persecution for Christ’s sake! Oh what a beautiful Savior! And what a beautiful promise we have because of Him: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
The Holy Bible, King James Version
video “Beautiful Savior” by Casting Crowns
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How to pray about racism, persecution and offenses
When people offend us, it’s important that we pray to God for repair. We need the Lord to prevent bitterness, resentment or unforgiveness from settling in. Some things we can handle while others must be taken to our father in heaven.
This is truly necessary for us of Hebrew descent who can experience racism on a frequent basis; and for us who are experiencing heavy persecution due to the Faith. We need prayer to stay strong, prevent sin from reigning in our bodies (Romans 6:12), and maintain a good connection with God. Here’s how to pray:
Pray for spiritual healing
The sting of injustice, betrayal, and mistreatment can bring spiritual wounds we can’t repair on our own. Our bodies can heal from physical wounds, but the Spirit of God must deal with the breaches in our souls.
Intense anger could be an indication of a breach. Always ask the Holy Spirit to heal and seal up the wound.
If you don’t, it may not be healed which could lead to spiritual infection (demonic strongholds) and then habitual sin.
More and more people today are becoming too proud to even acknowledge a wound from an offense and they never go to God for healing which leads to a worse condition. But the saints know that “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). And so we pray:
Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise (Jeremiah 17:14)
Pray for justice
Anger may be present especially when there’s an injustice and this can be used as fuel for prayer. But the devil would us to believe that anger is sinful in relation to injustice and evil. Persecuted saints are told this, and black people victimized by racism hear the same.
“The Angry Black Man/Woman” is a label appended to anyone who would express anger for a wrong committed against them under racism. It claims that said black person has an internal issue unrelated to the system of racism/white supremacy.
This “labeling” is salt in the wound of the victim and a message to the rest of the oppressed that warns: If you express angry or protest about our behavior, you’ll also be labeled and lose favor with us.
Those who want to please the dominant society will try their best to suppress their natural emotions, act as if they don’t see them happen to others, and even blame the victims.
All those who seek to please man over God are in sin (Galatians 1:10).
The same is done to the saints of God, specifically uneducated newborns.When false brethren (Galatians 2:4) persecute the true children of God, they brazenly go a step further and rebuke them for expressing any kind of anger labeling it bitterness or resentment, or “a lack of love.” This is designed to make the child feel as if they’re not right with God in addition to the pain of persecution.
If the devil can smother the child’s anger, it will eventually minimize their petitions to God for justice. Eventually they’ll become desensitized to their own pain and the pain of others. Then they eventually won’t see sin the way the Lord sees it and become useless for the kingdom.
We are not to be ignorant of the devil’s devices (2 Cor 2:11). No, we can “be angry, and sin not,” as the scripture says. Even our God is angry with the wicked everyday (Psalm 7:10-12). So if we’re told to love the things God loves, and hate the things God hates (Psalms 97:9-12), then hatred, and anger being a natural response to injustice, is warranted.
For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off. (Psalm 37:28)
As mentioned before, God told us to “be angry, but sin not” (Ephesians 4:26). It’s only wrong when we allow anger to lead us to sin.
Sin could be rage fits, destroying property, fighting, destroying others with words, boiling in resentment and/or bitterness, and living in unforgiveness. But we won’t let that happen to us.
The remedy is simple: We give whatever anger we can’t handle to God as we pray for his justice.
God is a lot better at anger management than anyone else. The majority of his creation deeply offends him all day, everyday. He would be perfectly justified in destroying all of them in his wrath, but it’s his great mercy and patience that keeps him from exploding before due time.We have access to this same restraint in the Holy Spirit. When we walk in the Spirit, we can be angry and not sin. Therefore pray for the righteous justice of God knowing that vengeance is not ours, but the Lord’s (Romans 12:19).
Even the saints continue to pray for justice even after they’re dead, crying: “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:9-11). Pray for God’s justice and watch him work in due time.
Understand that you’re blessed
In regards to being cut by sinners, often times we don’t realize it, but we are being persecuted for Christ’s sake. Righteous living irritates the wicked because it contrasts their lifestyle. Jesus said:
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)
Add these people to your prayer list
Jesus also said this later in that the same chapter:
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:43-45)
In regards to racism, I’ve often found myself praying that the veil of deception be removed from these people’s minds. Most racism is caused by media. White people are constantly fed negative things about blacks and then whites treat them as such without ever criticizing what they’ve been told. This is equivalent to just believing rumors about a stranger you don’t know.For everyone in general, I pray that God opens their eyes to their sins. I pray that these offenders examine themselves, repent to God and ask for forgiveness.
When they sin against us, they’re sinning against God.
At the end of the day, we have to always remember that when they sin against us, they’re sinning against God. This means we don’t repay evil for evil; and we extend the mercy and patience God extends to the wicked on a daily basis. Perhaps our bizarre treatment of them might bring them to Christ.
As always, pray in the Holy Spirit (Jude 1:20). This means you allow God’s Spirit to lead you in prayer to the Father. Prayer books are really unnecessary and get in the way of a Spirit-led prayer.
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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Praying for Persecuted Christians
Making plans for this space is one of my weaknesses, to be honest with you.
The best bloggers keep an editorial calendar, scheduling posts months in advance, but me? I’m the one who often flounders right up until a post is due.
I can’t say I regret it though, because it’s one way God continues to keep me yielded to Him. Dependent on Him. Desperate for Him, even, as I trust that He’ll prompt my heart when and where He desires.
And He never, ever fails me.
With all that being said, I didn’t set out last week to write a mini-series on persecution.
When I started my post last week, Even at Gunpoint, Yes, I Am a Christian, I had no idea that by the end of it, God would nudge my heart with the followup, Preparing for Persecution.
And this morning, I awoke with Pastor Saeed, his wife Naghmeh, and their children on my mind. My heart aches for the ongoing separation they’re enduring. I have cringed and wept with the news of each new beating Saeed has suffered. I sometimes struggle to honor our nation’s President, who seems to consider Saeed’s plight with callous regard instead of concerned intervention.
What can we do, friends? What can we do for Saeed and for Syrian Christians and for Christians being enslaved and tortured and killed by ISIS?I don’t know about you, but I despise this helpless feeling. This “something-must-be-done-but-I-have-no-power-to-do-anything” kind of feeling.
Truth be told, I’m getting that feeling a lot these days. And through it all, I’m incredibly grateful for a God who patiently points me toward prayer.
Because prayer is far and away the best thing we can do, whether or not it’s the only thing we can do.
In fact, Scripture teaches believers to lift prayers on behalf of those being persecuted.
Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Hebrews 13:3
It’s interesting to me that we’re not commanded to circulate a petition for the release of our Christian brothers and sisters.
We’re not instructed to plan a jailbreak or call for a boycott.
We’re told to pray.
So with great thoughtfulness and humility, I’m sharing five prayers for persecuted Christians around the world. These prayers are particularly powerful, not because they’re words you’ve found at A Divine Encounter, but because they’re words that come from the pages of Scripture.
Will you join me in praying the Scriptures for persecuted Christians?
And consider going a step further, making these prayers part of your regular routine. Maybe you could pray for persecuted Christians as you perform a certain household routine each day. Or perhaps pray for them on a particular day each week.
Because time spent praying is time well-spent.
)Pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, would give persecuted believers the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of their hearts enlightened, that they may know what is the hope to which He has called them, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His resurrection power toward them. (Ephesians 1:17-20)2.)Ask God to preserve persecuted believers as they take refuge in Him, acknowledging that He is their Lord and their Source of every blessing. Praise God for being their portion and their cup, and the One who holds their lot.
Claim His promise that the lines have fallen for them in pleasant places, and that they have a beautiful inheritance. Ask that God would counsel them, and instruct their hearts in the night. Pray that as they set the Lord always before them, they will not be shaken.
Ask that God would grant them a glad heart, and that they would rejoice with their whole being, knowing that they are secure in God’s hand. Rejoice that He will not abandon them, and ask that He would make known to them the path of life.
Ask for a keen sense of His presence at every moment, bringing a fullness of joy that exceeds human understanding. (Psalm 16:1, 5-11)
3.)Pray that persecuted Christians would themselves be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.
Ask God to open up a door for the Word, so that they may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which they have been imprisoned; that God may make it clear in the way they ought to speak.
Ask that God’s grace would enable them to conduct themselves with wisdom toward unbelievers, making the most of every opportunity. Pray that their speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that they will know how they should respond to each person. (Colossians 4:2-6)
4.)Remind God of His promise of grace that is sufficient in every circumstance, and of power that is made perfect in weakness.Pray that His persecuted children would glory in their weaknesses, trusting that the power of Christ would rest upon them.
Ask Him for supernatural grace that would allow them to be content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when they are weak, then they are strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
5.)Ask God to grant persecuted believers an unquenchable joy in spite of their circumstances, because according to the measure that they share in Christ’s sufferings, they will be exceedingly glad when His glory is revealed.
Pray that God would remind them that if they are insulted for the name of Christ, they are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon them. Pray that God’s grace would keep them above reproach, and that they would not be ashamed, but would glorify God and give thanks that they can bear the name “Christian.
” Ask that those who suffer according to God’s will would entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (I Peter 4:12-19)
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5 Ways to Pray This Week With Persecuted Believers
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 for the persecuted church to 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).