This Sunday is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. We will join forces with believers around the globe in interceding for the some 200 million of our kind suffering for their faith in Jesus. This begs the question why pray for these brothers and sisters? I see at least three reasons in the Scriptures.
One, it’s a matter of loving obedience. In Hebrews 13, v. 1 leads off a list of rapid fire exhortations with, “Let the love of the brethren continue.” One such manifestation of that love in v. 3 involves the following: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” Remember is a present tense command. We must keep on remembering. What better, more tangible way to do that, than in intercessory prayer?
Two, it’s a matter of mystical ownership. I say “mystical” in the sense of that which inspires a sense of spiritual mystery and awe. Paul speaks of this in 1 Cor. 12:26 when he writes, “If one member suffers, all suffer together. If one member is honored, all rejoice together.” There is simply no separating ourselves from our fellow saints in chains even if they do reside in restricted countries halfway around the globe from us. Prayer marks us as owning this one-body reality in a substantive way.
Three, it’s a matter of supernatural opposition. I love Acts 12:5. “So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church (emphasis mine).” Luke tells the rest of the story that saw the apostle miraculously delivered from his cell. Why? Because the church opposed Herod’s threat by wielding its powerful weaponry of prayer. So many tales are told by persecuted saints of miraculous intervention tied directly to the prayers of saints in faraway places. Eternity alone will reveal just how much harm was prevented as well as good done because the church prayed as it should.
Join me this Sunday evening at 6 PM for our monthly conference of prayer with special emphasis on the persecuted church. One of our missionaries will share about her experiences in a restricted country and bring unique perspective to our prayer time as a result.
Why pray? Obedience, ownership, and opposition. That’s why.