Pray with the Persecuted Church
In response to the pain and suffering of our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world, so many people ask us, ‘How can I help? What can I do?’
Our first answer is always, ‘Please pray.’
This type of answer usually receives a mixture of responses, the most common being, ‘No. I meant what can I practically do?’
Image: Open Doors partners in Colombia pray with a family.
“Jesus never taught His disciples how to preach, only how to pray… to know how to speak to God is more than knowing how to speak to man.” – Andrew Murray
Prayer should be our first response.
The Bible is full of examples of Jesus leaving the crowds to pray to His Father. It is the only real lesson we see Jesus instruct His disciples to do (Matthew 5:5-14). Prayer is the most ‘practical’ thing we can do, because we know that it is only through Christ that we can do all things. Prayer is the greater work.
This is the exact response we continue to see from the persecuted church. Their automatic response to us asking “How can we help you?” is almost always, “Please tell your friends to pray with us.”
What Do I Pray For?
This then leads us to the second most common response we receive, ‘What exactly do I pray for?’
Image: Bible school students in the Gulf praying for Muslims.
Our instant reaction might be to pray for their suffering to end; to pray that God might allow them to live in safety and practice their faith in freedom. But these are not the prayers of the persecuted church.
Our team asked an Egyptian Pastor how Western Christians could pray for our brothers and sisters in Egypt. The pastor responded by saying:
“Please don’t pray for us. Please pray with us.”
Image: A mid-week prayer meeting in Egypt.
A little confused by his answer, an Open Doors worker asked him what he meant by this. He continued,
“If you pray for us, you will pray for the wrong things. You will pray that the church will be safe. You will pray for persecution to cease. We are not praying for these things. We ask God for the salvation of Egypt. We ask that he draw millions of Muslims to Christ. We ask that we will be bold and clear in sharing our faith with Muslims. And we pray that when the inevitable persecution comes… that we will not run away, that we will be faithful in that persecution even if it costs us our lives.”
This is the heart of the persecuted church – that the gospel will advance.
Let’s pray with them, knowing that this desire matches the heart of God.