Duckie recently posted an article of mine in which I said that Christians shouldn’t beat ourselves up for not being able to accomplish much, because the Holy Spirit was departing from the countries of the West, and it is too late to reclaim what has been lost. But when the Holy One of Israel is finally rejected in one place, He goes to another. It can unfortunately be said of Western Civilization as it was said to Jewish leaders in the first century AD: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.” (Acts 13:46) Flip side of the record: now the Holy Spirit is turning to the Jews, to the sons of Ishmael, and to other “closed” nations. God is sending the Holy Spirit to gather to Him “the full number of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:25) – that is, those who have not had His Word in abundance like we in the West have.
We can’t accomplish much. That doesn’t mean we can’t accomplish anything. :E :E
Puddentain recently posted a link describing the growth of Christian faith in Iran. There is also a growing Christian church in China. If the Church of Jesus Christ (all true believers in Him) is growing in Iran, China, and other closed nations, it is by the astonishing grace, love and miraculous power of God. The West has almost zero influence in such closed nations. But the Holy Spirit can NOT be shut out! He goes wherever He wants to (John 3:8) and no person or other power on earth or in Heaven can stop Him! HURRAH! Thank You, Abba, for Your power and presence and salvation even where the devil’s throne is.
Brothers and sisters, I don’t understand a lot of what I know about prayer, but I know we are supposed to pray for fellow believers, especially those under persecution. I really, truly, don’t understand why or how our prayers have an effect. But praying is one of the few things that Christians in the West can still DO in obedience to God, and it is something that no power on earth can prevent us from doing:
“And when [the Lamb] had taken it, 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 5:8)
That these prayers are represented as being presented in golden bowls tells us that our prayers are highly valued and honored by God. In the Jewish Temple, gold was used for implements in the ritual sacrifices.
In Romans 8:1-4, we read that after the seventh seal of the scroll was broken, there was silence in Heaven “for about half an hour“:
“And another angel came and stood over the altar. He had a golden censer, and he was given very much incense (fragrant spices and gums which exhale perfume when burned), that he might mingle it with the prayers of all the people of God (the saints) upon the golden altar before the throne. And the smoke of the incense (the perfume) arose in the presence of God, with the prayers of the people of God (the saints), from the hand of the angel.” (Amplified Classic Bible)
I don’t know all the theological implications here. I suspect that there are many. But it seems obvious even to an ignorant man like me that our prayers are highly valued by God and important to Him, and incredible as it may seem our prayers have some important part in God’s plans for the last days of this planet. So I’m going to buy a world map to help me give regular attention in prayer to these nations.
No one and nothing can prevent us from praying. As Duckie pointed out a few days ago, Christians do not require an image of Jesus to worship, to pray, or to believe. The God of the Bible resides in the souls of believers. And we do not have to have a church, a preacher, a prayer leader, or even a Bible to pray. We do not have to pray out loud. I know, and I suspect that every Christian knows, that God sometimes answers even the prayers we speak in our minds. That’s no surprise. He always knows what is in our hearts.
When we are all safe in God’s Kingdom, and we meet believers from the 21st-century Mideastern countries and Asian countries in their tens of millions, and they are telling us their stories of faith under terrible persecution, do we want to be able to say, “I was praying for you on that day!” “I prayed for that need!” … ?
I suspect that none of us want to say, “Sorry, I was so busy with ____ and ____ that I didn’t have time to pray for you.”
Abba, we lift up to You “the full number of the Gentiles”, these believers whom we know are so valued by You, who are apparently now almost all from outside Western culture. Bring them in by the hundreds of thousands, by the millions, and more than that, Abba, give them such a powerful witness that after the Rapture millions more will come to faith in King Jesus! They are suffering terrible persecution, without any of the resources which Western Christians have had at our disposal for centuries. We ask that they may avoid persecution, because we know that You, Lord, are able to do what is impossible for humans. But if it is necessary for these believers to suffer severe persecution, we ask these things: please minimize their suffering as much as possible AND maximize the results from it. We pray that there may be an EXPLOSION of people finding faith in King Jesus in Iran, China, and other closed nations as a result of the suffering of their fellow citizens. We remember, Abba, that at one point the Pharisees were in despair because of the popularity of King Jesus. They said, “We don’t prevail against Him at all! The whole world is following Him!” We remember that they later said of His disciples, “They have turned the world upside down!” And in his 1973 autobiography, the Russian Sergei Kourdakov said he was told by his commanding officer, “In a little while we’ll be rid of these Christians.” Sergei said his unspoken response was, “The way they evangelize? I’ll be dead and in my grave first!”
It is true, Abba, and we are witnesses, that the gates of hell have not and can not prevail against Your church. What has happened in the West is that we have opened our own gates the evil one in, given him power, and obeyed his commands. Therefore we are finished, but before we depart this life, with faith in You and defiance of evil, we lift up to Your throne those who remain and are open to the wonderful Good News about salvation by faith alone in Your Son Jesus the Messiah alone. In His holy name we send this prayer to You. Amen.