“Prayer breaks all bars, dissolves all chains, opens all prisons, and widens all straits by which God’s saints have been held.” E. M. Bounds
At present, there are an estimated 100 million Christians around the world suffering unimaginable persecution. Every month, 322 Christians are killed for their faith, 214 Christian properties are destroyed, and 772 acts of violence are committed against our brothers and sisters around the world.
We know the statistics, we’ve heard the stories, and yet even in spite of our best intentions, we still fail to lift up our brothers and sisters in prayer.
Here are four things that can hinder our prayers for the Persecuted Church . . .
We’ve heard the stories all our lives . . . stories that are deeply unsettling . . . stories we never knew quite how to grapple with. Millions of Christians around the world pay an unimaginable price for their faith—beatings, confinement, slavery, and physical torture, rape, imprisonment, and much worse. In our inability to make sense of these stories, we bury them deep in our subconscious. Too often, we forget that lifting these men, women, and children up in prayer is the only true way to cope with the heavy reality of their circumstances.
The needs of our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world are glaringly evident. Many of us have been moved to bring hope and comfort to persecuted Christians around the world—we haven risen to take action, to raise awareness, and even to get our church communities involved. But even in this, we often forget that the most powerful weapon we have in the battle is prayer. Even our best intentions become a hindrance if we believe our own actions are more effective than falling to our knees in prayer.
As ISIS continues its bloody rampage throughout the Middle East, and we continue to hear the gruesome atrocities being committed against our brothers and sisters, it’s easy for lies to enter in with it. We may allow ourselves—even just for a moment—to believe there is no hope . . . and despair begins to settle in our hearts. And when despair sets in, prayerlessness soon follows. This is why it is crucial to fight lies with the truth of Scripture. As we hear gut-wrenching stories of persecution, we must also find time to fill our minds with God’s Word.
The magnitude of evil that persecuted Christians are facing around the world is so heavy that it can cause us to begin to ask the question “Why?”—Why would God allow this to happen? Slowly, our prayers are turned to doubts, and acts of compassion into apathy. When disillusionment creeps in, we must remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness throughout history and in our own lives. Declaring God’s faithfulness is the foundation of prayer.
Our brothers and sisters who are enduring unimaginable suffering cannot afford for us to give up hope. It’s not evil alone that defeats us, but also our own prayerlessness.
On November 1st, the International Day of Prayer, millions around the world are coming together to make powerful intercession for the Persecuted Church. Millions are choosing to believe that we have a God who not only hears our prayers, but who already longs to bring healing to His beloved children.
Can you imagine the difference this could make for our brothers and sisters?
Ask your friends, family, and church congregation to join you in prayer on November 1. Let’s raise up prayers so powerful, so rooted in God’s word, and so filled with hope, they can be felt by persecuted Christians around the world.