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Pray For The Persecuted Church And For Her Persecutors

    The second Sunday of November each year is a day set aside to pray for the persecuted Church around the world. This year, that date is November 14, 2004. Many groups will have an entire week of prayer for the persecuted Church: November 7-14. We would urge you to focus on these days in your churches; however, it is critical that we pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters without ceasing, year- round. Please don’t harbor the mentality of "because I don’t know them, I have no obligation to pray for them." We must not fail to pray for those whom God loves – and that is everyone!

    Dear Herald readers, we passionately implore you to focus on the needs of over 200 million Christians around the globe who suffer at the hands of others simply for believing in Jesus Christ. In addition, we ask that you also pray for those who persecute them. Brother Andrew has said, "…as followers of Christ, we must take a bold step: we must shed the ‘enemy image’ we have of those who persecute us. Because the moment we have an enemy image of anyone, God’s love can no longer work through us to reach them! We must pray for and even love those who hate us."

    Therefore, we would like to offer you some specific ways to pray for the persecuted Church and also for the persecutors of the Church. Please share it widely with those in your churches, so that we might be obedient to the Word.

Prayers for the Persecuted Church:

-- Pray for the persecuted to be faithful witnesses regardless of their circumstances: "Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything" (2 Corinthians 6:4-10).

-- Pray fervently for those imprisoned for their faith in Christ: "So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him" (Acts 12:5). "Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance" (Philippians 1:18b-19).

-- Pray for the persecuted to have courage: "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death" (Philippians 1:20).

-- Pray that those who are being persecuted will be strengthened by remembering these words of Jesus, and identifying with His sufferings: "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed My teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of My name, for they do not know the One who sent Me" (John 15:18-21).

-- Pray that those who are persecuted will have the strength to rejoice in the midst of their circumstances, realizing that the kingdom of heaven belongs to them, and that their reward will be great: "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:10-12).

wPray for the persecuted to be delivered and protected: "And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one" (2 Thessalonians 3:2-3). "He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many" (2 Corinthians 1:10-11).

-- Pray for blessing to be poured into the lives of the persecuted, despite their circumstances: "Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man" (Luke 6:22).

Prayers for the Persecutors of the Church:

-- Pray that all Christians, as well as the millions who represent the persecuted Church will love their enemies and pray for those who mistreat them: "You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matthew 5:43-45). "But I tell you who hear Me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you" (Luke 6:27-28).

-- Pray that the hardened hearts of governments and groups who persecute the Church around the world will be softened, and that they will trust in the Lord, just as Saul of Tarsus did: "They only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy’" (Galatians 1:23).

-- Pray for God to bring justice to the nations through Jesus Christ: "Here is my servant, whom I uphold, My chosen one in whom I delight; I will put My Spirit on Him and He will bring justice to the nations" (Isaiah 42:1).

Websites for information about the persecuted Church around the world: