What can average American Christians do that is worth their time and effort? Those of us who are believers in Jesus have something far more potent than politics at our command: prayer! Matthew 5:43-45 and Matthew 6:5-14 give us instructions on how to pray.
Faith is the victory, but prayer with righteous living is the power. One very important way we can and should apply that power: continuing, fervent prayer for our brothers and sisters who are experiencing persecution. What happens when believers pray?
The dead come back to life: Acts 9:40-41: “Peter sent [all the mourners] out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive.”
Faith does not fail:
Luke 22:31-32: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.”
Visions appear giving vital instructions:
Acts 9:10-12 “Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias … the Lord said to him, ‘Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, because he is praying, and he has seen in a vision …’ “
Acts 10:1-6: “At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius … a devout man who feared God with all his household … and prayed continually to God … ‘Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.’ “
Prisons are opened against the authorities’ will:
From Acts chapter 12: So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him … an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell … the chains fell off Peter’s wrists … ‘Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,’ the angel told him … They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate … It opened for them by itself, and they went through it.”
The world is in turmoil as the forces of evil struggle for control of the entire world. Christian faith has diminished everywhere, and what is left is often corrupted. The demons and the devil are whipping their human puppets into acts of violence and evil against Christians in particular. In America, we have not experienced anything like the horrors that believers in other nations are suffering. We must not forget those who are just because they are out of our sight and we seem to be protected right now.
The apostle Paul wrote, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2nd Corinthians 10:3-5)
It may be that we are in the Last Days and nothing will stop or even slow the rising tide of evil. But our prayers will be used by God to help those who are being persecuted. The apostles knew this, and requested prayer, with the certain knowledge that the prayers of the saints were important to their effectiveness:
Romans 15:30-31 “I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints…”
2nd Corinthians 1: 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
1st Thessalonians 5:25 “Brothers, pray for us!“
That is also the request of our brothers and sisters who are experiencing persecution. This letter is from an anonymous pastor in China concerning the purely physical consequences of the corona virus, but it is filled with pure Biblical wisdom about praying for those in need and dealing personally with any kind of epic disaster. His words hold true for those under persecution also.
Our prayers will be remembered before God’s throne, and apparently have some kind of effect on late-Tribulation events:
Revelation 5:8-9: “And when the Lamb had taken [the scroll from the right hand of Him Who sat on the throne], the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.”
Revelation 8:3-5: “Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.“
Christians suffering severe persecution – links with only a few words from each:
Sri Lanka: “A week since the bombings that killed at least 250 people, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith ... had ordered the country’s churches not to hold services until police could be sure they would not be attacked.”
From Open Doors: Suggested topics of prayer for each country are included:
North Korea: “If North Korean Christians are discovered, they are deported to labor camps as political criminals or even killed on the spot … no details can be published for security reasons.“
Afghanistan: “… it is illegal for an Afghani person to leave Islam … Those who are discovered to be Christians may be sent to a mental hospital … They may also be beaten or even killed by family members … for security reasons, no details can be published. Any visible acts of Christian worship are dangerous … “
Somalia: “In every sphere of life—private, family, community, and national—being exposed as a convert to Christianity means life-threatening danger, often leading to on-the-spot execution. In the interests of security, no examples can currently be published.”
Interviews with survivors: “More than 1 million people have been displaced as a result of Boko Haram’s Islamic insurgency in Nigeria. Thousands have been killed, raped, or kidnapped.“
Libya: “Libyan Christians with a Muslim background face violent and intense pressure to renounce their faith from their family and the wider community. There is no freedom of speech … Christians are singled out for much worse discriminatory and violent treatment.“
Pakistan: “All Christians suffer from institutionalized discrimination … difficult and dangerous to live out one’s faith in public … Please pray for protection of Christian women and girls who are often raped and then forcefully married to Muslim men in the community. This usually results in forced conversions.”
“Meet 1,000 Andrew Brunsons” – and those are just the ones about whom word leaked out.
Video 4:44: spokesman for terrorist attacks in Nigeria says the attacks “won’t stop until sharia law rules Nigeria”. “Nigeria is evenly split between Christians in the south and muslims in the north … [muslims] killed more than 100,000 people in 160 attacks since July 2009 … sympathizers within Nigeria’s police, intelligence services, army, and judiciary.”
‘We asked them repeatedly why they are doing what they are doing. They told us this is an all-out battle against Christians and Muslims,‘ he told CBN News …”
Abba, we plead with You fervently to end the torture and killing and persecution of our brothers and sisters in the faith. Where that is not possible, please grant them strength, endurance, and courage to face the evils they are subjected to. Please give them powerful assurance that You are with them. Comfort them as much as is possible. Let them know for certain that they will be protected from all pain and all evil in Your Kingdom. And may Your Kingdom come on this earth as it is in Heaven. All these things we ask in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.