The need is great. Prayer works. Our prayers rise to God like sweet-smelling incense, especially those that are uttered for the needs of others. He hears all of them. He answers.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
Prayer for the persecuted church
The first Sunday in November is set aside as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. On this day many churches will bring awareness of the need to pray for Christians throughout the world who are being persecuted for their faith.
Persecution against Christians has escalated greatly; the need for prayer on their behalf should be on every Christian’s prayer list. More died a martyr’s death in the 20th century than in all previous centuries combined. The 911 attack by terrorists on the United States is only one example of what other countries face daily. Today we hear more and more about horrifying acts against Christians in Syria and Afghanistan, China and North Korea.
Christian aid workers, pastors of house churches, teachers and even respected business leaders and government officials are being killed daily because of their faith. Missionaries also face the daily possibility of persecution. One said, before he was killed, “We die only once. It might as well be for Christ.” The astounding fact is these believers face their persecutors with both joy and willingness, for Jesus’ sake.
Such a mindset comes straight from the Bible. Jesus said, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35) Paul also writes about the importance of placing the Lord above ourselves. “What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Indeed I also count all things loss … that I may gain Christ and be found in Him …” (Philippians 3:7-8)
We may never face physical persecution or death because of our belief in Christ. But we are urged to pray for those who do throughout the world. We can pray for the protection of those who lead house churches, especially groups of women who are vulnerable to abuse and disrespect. We can pray for new believers as they share their faith with family members at risk of being criticized, ostracized or worse. We can pray for the families of Christians who are imprisoned because of their faith and unable to feed their loved ones. We can pray for God’s power and strength to keep Christians’ faith strong and unwavering and for His guidance as they minister to non-believers, including their persecutors.
Lord, the list for prayer needs is endless. Guide us as we remember to pray for the persecuted church throughout the world. In Jesus’ name, amen.