Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
Thousands of churches join today in praying for Christians around the world who are suffering for their faith in the gospel.
According to a 2017 report from Open Doors International, more than 215 million Christians globally high, very high, or extreme persecution.
Major persecution where people’s lives are endangered. Some cannot publicly live out their faith others are penalized for their faith and kept on the lowest rungs of their respective societies.
It is important to pray regularly for Christians who are persecuted throughout the world. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said: “you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22).”
Because while the gospel is the message that the world most needs, it is also the message the world most hates. Writing to the Church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul said: “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life (2 Corinthians 2:15-16).”
Just this week, I saw a story of a missionary from Indiana dying when he was caught in the crossfire of a conflict between combatting factions in Cameroon. His wife and eldest son witnessed this violence.
In Nigeria, a young woman named Leah Sharibu was abducted from her school by militants from Boko Haram. Of 112 girls who were taken by the militants, they’ve released everyone but Sharibu because she has refused to renounce her Christian faith. They’ve threatened to take her life unless they receive a $270,000 ransom.
In Pakistan, there have been protests over the release of a Christian woman named Asia Bibi who had been sentenced to death for blasphemy. She spent nearly eight years on death row. At least two politicians in Pakistan, including her local governor were assassinated for calling for her release. Protesters are also fighting against her and her family being able to leave the country for their own safety.
We have a savior who was persecuted and harassed. He was conspired against and unjustly murdered. The world is sinful. So sinful that we needed a savior and so sinful that when he came, the world killed him. And those who associate with his message face persecution and resistance.
For these people, and countless others, it is important to pray. To pray for God’s presence in their lives, for changes in their communities that allow them to live out their faith, for them to have opportunities to reach people with the gospel.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” -Matthew 5:10
10 Ways to Pray for Our Persecuted Family
1 – Pray that persecuted believers will sense God’s presence (Heb 13:5).
2 – Pray that they will feel connected to the greater body of Christ (1 Cor 12:20, 26).
3 – Pray that they will experience God’s comfort when their family members are killed, injured, or imprisoned for their witness (2 Cor 1:3 – 5).
4 – Pray that they will have more opportunities to share the gospel (Col 4:3).
5 – Pray for their boldness to m ake Christ known (Phil 1:14).
6 – Pray that they will forgive and love their persecutors (Matt 5:44).
7 – Pray that their ministry activities will remain undetected by authorities or others who wish to silence them (Acts 9:25).
8 – Pray that they will rejoice in suffering (Acts 5:41).
9 – Pray that they will be refreshed through God’s Word and grow in their faith (Eph 6:17).
10 – Pray that they will be strengthened through the prayers of fellow believers (Jude 20 – 25).
-Voice of the Martyrs
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Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.