Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
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Christian Post: How do you personally pray for the persecuted Church?
Brother Andrew: Let me first tell you what I don't pray. I don't pray that God will lift the persecution because if there is persecution there is a plan that God has, otherwise God wouldn't allow it. So do we understand why this persecution? When we read the Bible, all the Bible's characters met with at least opposition. Our problem is that if we have a little opposition we call it persecution. That is ridiculous. Every Christian is tested; every Christian has and has to have opposition.
How do we pray? Not for God to remove persecution, but use that to purify the Church. And it is my strong belief that the countries where there is persecution are stronger in faith than churches in countries where there is no persecution – whether it is your country or my country (Netherlands). And there will come a time, maybe it has come already, where we will depend on our survival on the faith and input of the church that is now persecuted. They are standing strongly in the storm; we write and speak about them because we admire them. They have qualities that I wish we had: the perseverance of faith. They don't have Bibles often and they don't have liberty. But do we need all this liberty that we take for granted in order to function as the Church? And of course the answer is no.
I pray for those being persecuted to remain strong in their faith and for those who are persecuting them to become believers as a result of being in the presence of the believers. I also ask for God's protection over those who are being persecuted.
I agree with my Brother Andrew that the churches which are being persecuted are stronger in their faith. In my country (the USA) the majority of folks living here have a legacy of Christian persecution. Many of our ancestors came to this country because they were being persecuted for their faith in their homelands. That strong faith made this country great, but over the decades, we've forgotten what led us here to begin with. All of our freedoms have made our faith weaker instead of stronger.
When I pray for the persecuted church, several scriptures tend to guide my prayers. I pray James 1 for the persecuted - that God will use that persecution to build maturity and perseverance in the church. I pray also for their joy - that God will grant them a joy that defies their circumstances and that draws the attention and admiration of their persecutors. I recall Paul and Silas singing in prison and the impact that had on the jailer in Philippi. I pray for God's peace to surround them.
I also find myself guided by the Lord's prayer, praying above all for God's kingdom to come - to come to the persecutors as it did to Saul, to come to the believers, and to come in the countries where they suffer persecution. I ask God to open doors for the Gospel. And I pray for him to raise up leaders for the country who know and fear him.
Finally, I pray for God's mercy on the persecuted. I do pray for release for prisoners, for restoration of families who have been split apart, for healing for those who have been severely beaten or otherwise tortured. I pray for comfort for those who are grieving. I ask God to bring an end to their persecution through conversion of the persecutors.
Above all, I ask for God's name to be honored in the midst of circumstances of persecution. Honored through the response of his people, honored in the conversion of the wicked, honored as he reveals himself by intervening on behalf of his Church.