As Christians, we have a responsibility to pray for the persecuted church. This blog regularly shares updates and prayer requests for persecuted believers around the world, but what is our motivation to pray?
Each month, 322 Christians are killed, 214 churches are destroyed, and 722 acts of violence are committed against Christians (Source: Open Doors). All over the world, people who choose to follow Christ face a great cost.
Pray for the Persecuted
David Platt addressed how to pray for persecuted believers around the world in a sermon titled, “Prayer and Persecution.” David posed some important questions about praying for persecuted believers and answered them through Acts 4.
1. Why do we pray?
Number one, we pray because we are one family…If you look at verse 23 it says, “Peter and John went back to their own people” (Acts 4:23)…Can I remind you that calling these men, “brothers,” is more than just a title or a reference to them, that is who they are. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Not only are we one family, but we have one purpose. I love the picture here of these guys gathering together…These are the people who are on the front lines in a battle to proclaim the gospel in the first century and they gather together in a group, almost like a huddle, almost like they are coming back from the battle lines, getting together and saying, okay, we need to pray for strength going back out there. We need to pray for the power to, and boldness to proclaim the gospel.
2. Who do we pray to?
Look in Acts 4, and these believers spend five verses telling God who He is before they ask Him for anything. Now, why would they do that? As if God needed to know who He was. As if they needed to fill in God on some new information. That wasn’t their point though. What Scripture is telling us here is that if we are going to pray, we need to know the God TO who we are praying. We need to know who He is and that will lead us to pray the correct way.
And this is huge for people in the midst of its persecution and suffering to know that amidst the questions and amidst the confusion, amidst the anxiety, amidst losing your mom or your dad or your brother or sister or your son or your daughter. Amidst all of that, you can look up and see that God is still on the throne. And he’s still in control of everything that is going on.
3. What do we pray for?
Notice that at no point in Acts 4, do you see them praying for the persecution to stop, at no point in Acts 4 do you see them praying for God to bring the wrath down on those people around them. At no point do you see them lamenting what they were going through. Instead of praying for escape from that trial, they prayed for enablement to stand up under the trial.
I think they prayed for three main things here in Acts 4. Number one, they prayed for the honor of Christ…Two, pray for the boldness of the church…Not only to pray for the honor of Christ and for boldness of the church, but I think the whole pray here is a prayer for the advancement of the kingdom.
4. What do you expect?
When God’s people get on their knees and on their faces on behalf of brothers and sisters around the world, He will shake the earth for His glory and He will make His glory known. And He will move in ways that can’t be described or attributed to man. He will move in incredible ways if we will pray and then rise and put feet to those prayers.
How are you praying for the persecuted church? Are you expecting God to move in incredible ways? For more on this topic, listen to the full sermon.