Man praying with shadows of prison bars cast over him
Man praying with shadows of prison bars cast over him

Praying for our Persecutors

 "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them."
Romans 12:14 ESV

I once played in a full-body contact church hockey league, and when it came to dominance on the ice, there was no turning the other cheek. I still remember a game where I was blindsided by a body check that occurred well after the play. It was a dirty hit and, adding to my aggravation, the referee didn't see the infraction. As I picked myself off the ice, set on retaliation, a teammate grabbed me and said: "Be smart, don't get a retaliatory penalty; but it was No. 14 who hit you." From that moment on, every time No. 14 received the puck, I was there and would deliver a hard but clean hit. I didn't care if we won the game, as long as No. 14 spent most of it on his backside.

Open Bible on a rock; water with the reflection of the sun in the background
Boy praying in rice fields of Thailand

Strengthened Through the Prayers of the Saints

"But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen."
Jude 20-25 ESV

Regular persistent prayer is essential whenever engaging in spiritual warfare. Christians dare not fight the forces of evil in their own strength, but rather should depend upon the Holy Spirit’s empowerment and leading in the activity of effective prayer. On behalf of the saints, the Spirit enhances these prayers to the Father in a language far beyond the expression of human words. Intercession on behalf of persecuted Christians ascends to God’s throne of grace, carried by the Holy Spirit, for the strengthening of all who suffer for righteousness.

Open Bible on a rock; water with the reflection of the sun in the background
Open Bible on a rock; water with the reflection of the sun in the background

Praying for Refreshing

"...take the helmet of salvation and the sword
of the Spirit, which is the Word of God...."

Ephesians 6:17 ESV

My father, Klaas Brobbel, travelled to northern Ghana several years ago to connect with a ministry partner. One of the people he met during this trip was a young woman who had been experiencing persecution because of her conversion to Christianity. After introductions, she began to tell her story. As my father listened, he noticed that this soft-spoken young woman appeared quite timid. When she finished sharing her testimony, Klaas felt impressed to ask her a couple of questions.

Man praying at a window
Man praying at a window

Praying to Rejoice in Suffering

"Then [the apostles] left the presence of the council, rejoicing that
they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name."

Acts 5:41 ESV

People tend to equate the act of rejoicing with celebration. Loss, sickness and suffering of any kind do not naturally spark within the human heart a joyful response. And yet, throughout the Bible, we find the consistent message that rejoicing is not dependent on external circumstances, which in turn should never dictate nor limit one’s capacity to be glad. The following verses (in context) highlight this truth throughout the Scriptures.

  • “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).
  • “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance…” (Romans 5:3).
  • “And Hannah prayed and said, ‘My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation’” (1 Samuel 2:1).
  • “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).

Border police surveying the landscape
Border police surveying the landscape

Praying for Hiddenness

"When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him,
but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day
and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and
let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket."
Acts 9:23-25 ESV

It may seem odd that one way we can intercede for persecuted believers is by praying for their ministry activities to remain undetected by authorities and those who wish them harm. Yet, in Matthew 5:16, Jesus teaches: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” So how can Christians let their lights shine and be hidden simultaneously?

Foot stepping on a small flower
Foot stepping on a small flower

Praying to Love and Forgive

"...Love your enemies, do good to those
who hate you, bless those who curse you,
pray for those who abuse you.... And pray
then like this... ‘forgive us our debts, as
we also have forgiven our debtors.'"
Jesus' words in Luke 6:27-28; Matthew 6:9,12 ESV

Can forgiveness be sincere without the presence of love? In other words, does the failure to forgive lie in the inability to love the debtor? As I have contemplated this question, it appears that true forgiveness without love is impossible. Scripture verses like John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life," and Romans 5:8, "God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us," reveal that love is a posture in the heart that makes forgiveness possible. Corrie Ten Boom wrote: "We must mirror God's love in the midst of a world full of hatred. We are the mirrors of God's love, so we may show Jesus by our lives."