“And immediately the King sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.”
So this is the story of John the Baptist being beheaded. It’s one of many stories in scripture, and the history of the church, people who have died for their faith in Christ, for devotion to God.
As I read this and was thinking through, okay, how does this lead us to pray? My heart just immediately went to brothers and sisters in Christ right now who are being persecuted around the world in similar ways, some who are facing the threat of beheading today. Yes, there are some places, groups of people in the world, who if someone comes to faith in Christ will slit their throat, cut off their head, kill them. A family member might even do that.
Today we intercede on behalf of our brothers and sisters around the world who are being persecuted for following Christ.
Obviously, there are many other ways that our brothers and sisters in Christ are being persecuted, whether they’re imprisoned or isolated or not allowed to get jobs, not allowed to support their families. So many different ways where followers of Christ are restricted and living out their faith, and the more they proclaim the gospel the more persecution comes.
So I want to lead us to pray specifically for our brothers and sisters in chains. Hebrews Chapter 13, really just all over scripture we see exhortations to care for the body of Christ like this, and especially for suffering brothers and sisters.
So God we praise you for the faith of John the Baptist. We praise you for his boldness and doing all that you called him to do in proclaiming your word and preparing the way for the coming of Jesus, and we look forward to meeting John the Baptist with his resurrected body.
So we are driven now, Father, to pray for our brothers and sisters, your children, sons and daughters, who right now are imprisoned in different places, who are facing persecution of all kinds and some are facing death. God, we pray for your preservation of them, for your deliverance of them. We pray in an Acts 12 kind of way, just like the church was praying for Peter when he was in prison. We pray oh God that you would deliver our brothers and sisters out of prison. God I don’t even know specific names of people to pray for right now, but you know all the names of our brothers and sisters, our family who’s in prison right now.
So we’re asking you Father, please make a way for them to get out. God I pray that one day we might meet somebody in heaven who today was delivered out of imprisonment for their faith because we were asking and you answered in the same way you did an Acts Chapter 12.
So do it today we pray, oh God. We pray that you would give boldness to our brothers and sisters in the middle of persecution to proclaim the gospel, to follow you, to do all that you’re calling them to do. God we pray that they would know they’re not alone, that they have brothers and sisters interceding for them.
God we pray for their families. We pray for husbands and wives who are separated from one another, kids and parents who are separated from one another. God we pray that the Adversary would not have a foothold in those family members lives, that they would love Jesus more as a result of seeing their mom or dad, husband or wife or child give their life following you.
God we pray for the building up of our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. We pray for their strength. We pray for their boldness, for their peace, for their courage, for your grace in every way in their lives for your wisdom. Help them to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves as you tell us in Matthew Chapter 10. God please do not let us in any way go through our Christian lives in places where we have freedom to worship you and freedom to share the gospel, and all while ignoring or forgetting our brothers and sisters in Christ who don’t have these privileges.
God we pray that you would help us to proclaim the gospel all the more boldly with the freedom that we have, and help us to pray. Help us to pray continually for our brothers and sisters in chains, knowing, knowing that you hear our prayers and you answer them on their behalf. Glorify yourself we pray through our brothers and sisters who are living and dying in really hard places right now for your glory, and help us to lay down our lives in every way you call us, to be a part of this same mission that they’re giving their lives to. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.