Why Pray for the Persecuted Church?

In the US and in Western Europe, Christians are not imprisoned for attending church. They tend to feel persecuted when someone criticizes them for mentioning church in public. In many other countries, persecution has a much sharper edge.

In Laos, local government officials may evict a Christian couple from their home and send them into the forest with nothing but the clothes on their backs. The national government may revoke their citizenship, leaving them stateless.

In China, a Christian may be arrested for attending a church not registered with the national government.

In Saudi Arabia, Christian girls may be kidnapped and forcibly married to Muslim men. When families do find out where their daughters are and bring the case to court, the courts refuse to hear testimony from the girls and ultimately rule that the girls voluntarily recanted their Christian faith and married Muslim men.

In Syria, Christians are abused and even beheaded in the streets. Yet their response to persecution is so full of grace and love that everyone in that beleaguered nation knows to go to Christians for food, medicine and shelter from the ever-present danger.

What do Christians under persecution say to the rest of us? The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians from prison, and what he wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:8-11 beautifully sums up the message of the persecuted church to the rest of the world:

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.  NIV

Why should we pray for the persecuted church?

  • Because when we pray, we share their burden.

We are all part of the body of Christ on earth. When you mash your finger in a door, you feel the pain all over. Likewise, when the body of Christ suffers in Uzbekistan, the body in USA suffers as well.

Also, when we intercede for them in prayer, we enter into God’s ministry of blessing to them. We are part of God’s work on earth to strengthen their testimony in a dark and dangerous world.

Why should we pray for the persecuted church?

  • Because it strengthens our own testimony.

It is not possible to read of the sufferings and courage of Christians around the world and not be encouraged to be strong in our own testimony. The world is just as dark in the US, even if it is less dangerous, and we, too, are called by God to be faithful in our testimony. When we share their burden of persecution, we also share their burden for Satan’s captives who surround us. We, too, must pour out our lives in love for those whom Satan enslaves.

Why should we pray for the persecuted church?

  • Because prayer is what they ask for more than anything else.

Ministries who serve the persecuted go into dangerous settings and meet people whose lives are at risk. When the visiting ministers ask, “What can we do to help you? What do you need?” the first answer is always, “Pray that we will be strong and faithful in our testimony to Christ.” When we pray with them that they may be true to Christ, we join in their own most fervent prayers. They don’t ask for help to escape persecution; they ask for strength to go through it as Christ did. We must pray for the persecuted church if we want to give them the thing they most deeply desire.

If you have not been praying for the persecuted church, now is a good time to start. Visit I Commit to Pray and join with Christians around the world in prayer for the persecuted church.