Praying for the Persecuted2
This passage begins with the sober news that Herod, "killed James the brother of John with the sword." As I read this sentence, my thoughts landed on John - the little brother who was left behind. What if you were John and you received news that your brother and best friend had just been martyred for his faith in Jesus? How would you feel? How would you respond?
I am sure that John was proud of his big brother for being faithful to the end. I believe that he felt honored that this eldest son of Zebedee was counted worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ. I am positive that he had complete confidence that James was in the presence of Jesus receiving his "crown of life" (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10).
I believe he had all those thoughts, EVENTUALLY. But, I believe that mostly, he just really missed his brother. In the Gospels these two are rarely separated. I believe John missed him every day for the rest of his very long life. Wouldn't you? What if it were your brother.
Today, our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world are taking a stand for their Savior and facing persecution. Our response should be the same as the early followers of Christ when Peter was taken and thrown into prison. (Acts 12:5) Earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
Evangeline Vergo of Campus Crusade for Christ offers us great advice on "How to Pray for the Persecuted Church"
She writes: Around the world, many believers are persecuted -- imprisoned, even killed -- for their faith. Since Jesus laid down His life, 43 million Christians have become martyrs.
Right now 200 million people face persecution for believing in Jesus and 60% of those people are children, according to Christians in Crisis International Ministry, a prayer advocacy ministry for persecuted believers.
How to Pray from the Bible
Because the New Testament was written to persecuted believers, it is filled with examples of how to pray for our brothers and sisters under attack.
Here are 5 examples from Ephesians:
- Please pray persecuted believers would know the hope God gives (Ephesians 1:8).
- Pray the Holy Spirit would strengthen them (Ephesians 3:16).
- Please pray persecuted believers would know how much God loves them (Ephesians 3:17)
- Pray they would know how to share the gospel (Ephesians 6:19).
- Please pray persecuted believers would fearlessly tell others about Jesus (Ephesians 6:20).
How to Pray for Practical Needs
Along with the example prayers in the Bible, there are some practical needs persecuted believers would love your prayers for:
- Please pray persecuted believers would have access to a Bible.
- Pray they have the courage to remain in their homeland.
- Please pray for believers who have been rejected by family and friends. Pray that God would surround them with a new Christian "family" who loves them and supports them emotionally and physically.
- Pray for God to be an advocate for women who are socially vulnerable or have lost the custody of their children because of their faith.
- Please pray that God would provide persecuted believers with jobs and safe places to live.
Find out more ways to support our brothers and sisters in Christ at the Voice of the Martyrs.
When Jesus confronted Paul on the Road to Damascus, He asked him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” It seems that Jesus considers any persecution of His Bride as an offence against Himself. Maybe, that's why this chapter ends with the miserable death of Herod and the magnificent triumph of the Church.
(Acts 12:24) But the word of God increased and multiplied.
BOBBY PRUITT | Lead Pastor