Prayer When Being Persecuted at Work
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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PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS—Why and how should we pray and act for the suffering church?
See this page in: Dutch, Indonesian
“…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.”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.”
[See our Effective Evangelism section]
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.Copyright © 1998, 1999, Films for Christ, All Rights Reserved—except as noted on attached “Usage and Copyright” page that grants ChristianAnswers.Net users generous rights for putting this page to work in their homes, personal witnessing, churches and schools.
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Prayers for Protection at Work, Home and from Enemies
On this page you’ll find a list of prayers and verses for protection at work and home. Prayers to keep you safe and protect you from evil and enemies stand in your way.
Unless we avail ourselves within the protective arms of our God, we leave ourselves vulnerable to the attacks of the evil one. We must be diligent in reading God’s word, and ask Him to watch over and protect us individually, as well as His children. When you pray for yourself, pray for those you love, those you have never met, and even those who have hurt you in some way.
Let it be known that with God, all things are possible. Not some things, ALL things. When we feel afraid in life, ask for His protection and safety. Our Father does not desert His children. These prayers of protection are offered as a way to preempt those attacks and keep oneself and one’s loved ones under the protection of God at all times.
If the need for protection whether in your own life, or in the life of someone you love is present, let us pray for you at the holiest place on earth, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
We have faith that sending your prayer request to the place where our Lord Jesus Christ gave his life for us will help your request be granted! It is our honor and privilege to be a part of your prayer warrior, and to ask the Lord to watch over you, protect you, and keep you, always.
The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior; thou saved me from violence. I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
2 Samuel 22:3-4
Prayer for Protection from Illness
Heavenly Father, I adore you and I love you with all my heart and soul. I thank you for having created me, and for watching over me in all that I do, every single day. Pardon me for my sins.
I ask that you watch over me while I rest and recover from illness. Please protect my body, and help me heal from this sickness that weakens me. May your unending grace be with me forever and ever.
I trust in all that You do, and all that You are.
Prayer for Divine Protection
Grant me, O Lord, your protection. Within your protection, strength. And within your strength, understanding. And within your understanding, knowledge.
And within your knowledge, the power of justice. And within the power of justice, the love of all of Creation. Guide and protect my body, my mind, and my best judgment in all things.
For you, O Lord, will never leave my side. In this I trust. Amen.
Prayer for Protection Through Life’s Journey
In the name of God I move forth through life’s journey. May God the Father always be with me, God the Son protect and watch over me, and God the Holy Ghost to stand by my side as I travel through the life you have given me. Amen
Prayer for Protection While Traveling
I ask that God’s Angels guard and keep you. As you travel, may you remain safe and secure, with His presence known to you at all times. May He watch over you as you leave home, wandering and maneuvering in other parts of God’s great earth. You are not alone. For He is always with you. Amen.
Prayer for Protection Over Your Family
Heavenly Father, I pray for your emotional, physical, and spiritual protection over my family and loved ones. I ask You to keep evil far away from them, and to help them to trust You as their refuge and strength in all things, without ceasing.
I pray You will guard their minds from harmful instruction and sinful ways, and to grant them discernment to recognize the truth.
I pray that You will make them strong and if they find themselves amist danger, recognizing that You have overcome and will set right all injustice and wrong.
Please help them to find rest in your shadow, and through your everlasting embrace, as they live in the spiritual shelter You provide for them. Let them know that the only safe place is in beside their Heavenly Father, and that their home on earth is only temporary.
Prayer for Personal Protection
Oh Heavenly Father, I come to You today, bowing my head and opening my heart, asking for protection from all the evil this world holds. Lord, we are assailed moment by moment with images on television, the internet, books and newspapers that leave us vulnerable to sin of every kind, every single day.
Surround us with your divine hedge of unbreakable protection. Encompass us round about with your strength and your glorious might. Let all who take refuge in You be happy and feel safe. Please shelter us, Heavenly Father, that those who love your name may exalt in You.
For it is You who blesses the righteous man and those who give their lives to You.
“And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:13-14
“A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.” Psalm 91:7
“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Christian Persecution Today
Today, just in the book of Acts, Christians are persecuted all over the world for following Jesus.
Persecution at a Glance
Christians remain one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world.
While Christian persecution takes many forms, it is defined as any hostility experienced as a result of identification with Christ.
Christian torture remains an issue for believers throughout the world including the risk of imprisonment, loss of home and assets, physical torture, beheadings, rape and even death as a result of their faith.
Trends show that countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East are intensifying persecution against Christians, and perhaps the most vulnerable are Christian women, who often face double persecution for faith and gender.Every day we receive new reports of Christians who face threats, unjust imprisonment, harassment, beatings and even loss of family because of their faith in Jesus.
Every month, on average:
- 345 Christians are killed for faith-related reasons
- 105 Churches and Christian buildings are burned or attacked
- 219 Christians are detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned
Every year, we release the World Watch List—a global indicator of countries where human and religious rights are being violated, and those countries most vulnerable to societal unrest and destabilization. This is the 27thyear of the Open Doors World Watch List, and it remains the only annual in-depth survey to rank the 50 most difficult countries in which to be a Christian.
According to our research:
- 245 million Christians experience high levels of persecution in the countries on the World Watch List. And worldwide, 1 in 9 Christians experience high levels of persecution.
- North Korea is ranked #1 for the 18th consecutive year as the most dangerous country for Christians.
- Islamic Oppression fuels Christian persecution in 8 of the top 10 countries.
1. The shocking reality of persecution against women
In the 2019 World Watch List reporting period, there were shocking details about the persecution experienced by Christian women. In many places, they experience “double persecution”—one for being a Christian and one for being a woman.
Even in the most restricted circumstances, gender-specific persecution is a key means of destroying the minority Christian community.
This kind of persecution is difficult to assess because it is complex, violent and hidden—in many cultures where women are specifically targeted, it is difficult if not impossible to report accurate numbers.
2. Islamic oppression continues to impact millions of Christians
In seven the top 10 World Watch List countries, the primary cause of persecution is Islamic oppression. This means, for millions of Christians—particularly those who grew up Muslim or were born into Muslim families—openly follow-ing Jesus can have painful consequences. They can be treated as second-class citizens, discriminated against for jobs or even violently attacked
3. The world’s two most-populated countries on the World Watch List
For the first time since the start of the World Watch List, India has entered the top 10. Additionally, China jumped 16 spots, from 43 to 27. Each of these countries is home to more than a billion people, so these trends are distressing.
Hindu nationalists in India continue to attack Christians with what seems no consequences, and in China, the increased power of the government and the rule of Xi Jinping continue to make open worship difficult in some parts of the country.
4. The spread of Islam across sub-Saharan Africa
While the violent excesses of ISIS and other Islamic militants have mostly disappeared from headlines from the Middle East, their loss of territory there means that fighters have dispersed to a larger number of countries not only in the region but, increasingly, into sub-Saharan Africa.
Their radical ideology has inspired or infiltrated, numerous splinter groups such as Islamic State West Africa ProvinceIslamic State West Africa Province is a sect of Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.
(ISWAP), a deadly group that broke away from Nigeria’s Boko Haraman extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria that also enslaves Christian women and girls as an integral part of their strategy.
5. More laws added to control religion
State authoritarianism is increasing in many parts of the world, supported by the ever-spreading availability of personal digital technology, which governments can increasingly track through facial recognition, electronic chips and so on. Places Vietnam, Myanmar, China and North Korea all saw increases in stricter state control of religious rights.
At Open Doors, we’ve made a commitment to stand with the persecuted—so they can be the light of Christ to their communities.
For more than 60 years, Open Doors USA has worked in the world’s most oppressive and restrictive countries for Christians.
Open Doors works to equip and encourage Christians living in dangerous circumstances with the threat of persecution and equips the Western church to advocate for the persecuted.
Christians are one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world and are oppressed in at least 60 countries.
Are Christians Being Persecuted In The United States?
Persecution of Christians has been growing around the world, but what about in the U.S.? Are Christians being persecuted in America?
Christ-followers, which is a better description for the person who has trusted in Christ, can expect persecution. It shouldn’t surprise us because the Apostles, prophets, evangelists, and of course Jesus, was persecuted for preaching the gospel.
Jesus never promised you “might be” persecuted but in fact, you will be, so it’s not a question of if, but when and how often you are persecuted for your faith in Christ. Jesus was adamant about this when He said, “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.
’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours” (John 15:20) because “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master” (Matt 10:24).
From some of the posts or comments on this and other articles Christians write you can see this being fulfilled by the vindictive and vicious comments non-believers leaven, so “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master” (Matt 10:24), so “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). We have to expect to be “hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt 10:22).
Persecution is growing around the world, even if it’s not as noticeable in the U.S. and other parts of the West, but here too it’s growing in ways we might not be able to see.
As recently as 2013, persecution doubled over the previous year, and according to an annual survey by Open Doors, which is a non-denominational ministry that monitors the persecution of believers and supports persecuted Christian’s worldwide, hardline Islamist regimes and Islamic terrorists were behind most of the slaughter.Some of the worst persecution came from Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the Maldives, Pakistan, Iran, and Yemen and all of these are Islamic countries. One Pakistani Christian couple was burnt to death in a kiln by enraged Muslim villagers for what the Muslims believed to be disrespecting the Koran by simply using the Bible and not the Koran.
North Korea was listed as the most dangerous nation for Christian’s but Nigeria came first for the number of Christians killed for their faith, recording more than half of the 7,000-plus killings across the globe, however the six nations where most Christians were killed for their faith in Christ were in sub-Saharan Africa and in this order were Nigeria, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Cameroon. A recent a Pew Forum study on Religion and Public Life reported that Christianity faces restrictions and hostility in more than 110 countries around the world and this is growing, but it already includes far more than half of the nations in the world.
Persecution in America
Even the Apostle Paul said he was “persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2nd Cor 4:9) so he knew it was to be expected. According to Christian Solidarity International, more Christians died for their faith in the twentieth century than at any other time in history and that trend is escalating. Of course, the persecution we face in the U.S.
is nothing that of other nations around the world were their government does little or nothing to prevent it, and in most cases actually support it by their “hands off” policies. In Houston, Texas, it was reported that one woman was ordered by local police to stop handing out gospel tracts to children who knocked on her door during Halloween.
Even if that were true, American Christians don’t know what real persecution is. Persecution is not being restricted from handing out Bible tracts at public schools. Part of the persecution comes in a less than honest way where textbooks are being revised by historians who apparently have an axe to grind against religion. Dr.
Paul Vitz, then professor of psychology at New York University, worked with a committee that examined sixty social studies and history textbooks used in public schools across the United States and what the committee found was amazing. Almost every reference of Christian influence in early America was systematically removed.
Sadly, historical revisionists are allowed the freedom to print lies of “omission” by removing the Christian heritage of this nation.
If you are not being persecuted for your faith in Christ then you are either on a desert island and no one is there to persecute you or you are not living any differently from the world around you…or you are not a Christian at all.
If you are living a godly life you will be persecuted, make no mistake about it, because “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2nd Tim 3:12). Even the Apostle Paul admits, “I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women” (Acts 22:4), and later, he himself was the one who was being persecuted.Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad thing to be persecuted. Jesus tells us “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:10) so “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt 5:12).
There is no doubt that “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Luke 21:17), “But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me” (John 15:21).
When the Apostles were being persecuted they were brought before the Sanhedrin council and commanded to stop preaching the gospel, but the Apostle Peter told them, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), so after “they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go” (Acts 5:40).
How did they react? Did they contact the ACLU or complain to the Roman authorities? No, “they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (Acts 5:41).
If you are persecuted for believing in Jesus, then you are in good company, for so did they the prophets, the Apostles, and of course the Lord Jesus Christ Who the murdered.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.
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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