I was thinking over the weekend what my post this week should be about. I felt led to start thinking about something anyone–well, any saved person that is–can do: pray. What guidelines should we use? What should we pray for? How should we pray? What about the persecution itself? Read on to find out a bit more about what I think about this topic.
The next challenge was where to start. The Bible was a logical place–imagine that–with 1 Thessalonians 5:17 exhorting us to "Pray without ceasing." As I read that verse, I backed out and read 1 Thes. 5:16-18. I then backed out more and looked at the entire chapter: 1 Thes 5.
So, point 1: Pray all the time.
Now for how we should pray. In order to know if our prayers were answered or not, they need to be specific. Simply praying something along the lines of "God be with those who are persecuted for You today" is not enough. First off, if you are saved, God IS with you…why pray for it. Second, how are you going to know if God answers that prayer. In order to find out some specifics, I went to the VOM homepage and started looking around. I found their mission statement and thought that would be an interesting place to start (sorry, I couldn't link directly to it. Go to this page and follow the link in the lower right-hand portion of the screen). The VOM Mission statement says:
- To encourage and empower Christians to fulfill the Great Commission in areas of the world where they are persecuted for their involvement in propagating the gospel of Jesus Christ. We accomplish this by providing Bibles, literature, radio broadcasts, medical assistance, and other forms of aid.
- To give relief to the families of Christian martyrs in these areas of the world.
- To equip local Christians to win to Christ those persecutors who are opposed to the gospel in countries where believers are actively persecuted for their Christian witness.
- To undertake projects of encouragement, helping believers rebuild their lives and Christian witness in countries that have formerly suffered Communist oppression.
- To emphasize the fellowship of all believers by informing the world of atrocities committed against Christians and by remembering their courage and faith.
Why not take that and pray specifically for the following things:
- That our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world be empowered to fulfill the Great Commission.
- Pray that funds would come in to VOM to allow them to supply Bibles (and portions), radio broadcasts, and other aid.
- Pray that believers who are persecuted would be able to share "the hope that is within" with their perecutors. Pray for opportunities to arise where they could witness.
- Pray specifically for the persecutors and their salvation.
- Pray that we would be faithful in what God has called us to
- Pray for opportunities for us to witness.
So, point 2 could be: Pray specifically.
Now for the big question: Should we pray for persecution to end? I dealt with that in a previous blog post. Go read that (and the article at the IMB homepage.) then come back. I'll wait. Just to sum that up, I don't think we should pray for God to end the persecution. If anything, we should be praying that God would cleanse us and forgive us for being such poor examples of Christianity.
Well, if we aren't going to pray for the persecution to end, how should we pray? We should pray with a Kingdom focus, pray for God to be glorified, pray for the families of those persecuted, pray that the Holy Spirit will comfort them, and pray that people would be saved.
Point 3: Don't pray for the persecution to end.
In conclusion, I hope this has helped you. Writing this gave me many ideas for things to pray for in the future.