Religious freedom is declining around the world. Extreme persecution of Christian believers has continued in 2015, especially in the same hotspots of the Middle East, Iran, Sudan, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Nigeria.
This coming week allows the global Christian community to focus on the persecuted church through an intensified focus on prayer. (More information and a video clip can be found at http://idop.org/en/).
The theme for this year’s day of prayer is “Remember Their Chains”. The foundation for the theme is Hebrews 13:3 to ‘remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering’.
Prayer becomes vital. How can we pray for the persecuted church?
Specific prayer needs can be found on the websites and in the literature of organizations such Open Doors, Bible League, Voice of the Martyrs, Barnabas Fund, and Christian Faith and Freedom.
Prayer can focus on:
- The troubled regional and country hot spots for the freedom of religion, the care of the refugees fleeing from the conflicts and the resolution of the causes of the conflict.
- Christian leadership to have courage and wisdom as they care for those they shepherd and engage with the authorities.
- Christians as they mourn, manage pain and fear, and to know God’s joy, healing, rest, refreshment, peace and freedom.
- The enemies to see God in response to the witness of the believers and through the work of the Holy Spirit in generating encounters with the living Christ as with Saul on the Damascus Road.
Further prayer suggestions and relevant Scripture can be found at http://www.persecution.com/idop
A prayer liturgy can be found at http://www.releaseinternational.org/idop/
In focusing on prayer, the material and physical needs should not be forgotten either nor advocacy in the public square.
May we, in the coming days, pray for the persecuted church and also ensure that it continues all year round.