Two people praying over a globe
Two people praying over a globe

Praying for Gospel Opportunities

“At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the
Word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison.”
Colossians 4:3 ESV

Nancy Pearcey is a Christian author who teaches extensively on the topic of worldview. She says:

“Every philosophy or ideology has to answer the same fundamental questions:

  1. Creation: How did it all begin? Where did we come from?
  2. Fall: What went wrong? What is the source of evil and suffering?
  3. Redemption: What can we do about it? How can the world be set right again?” 1

Woman weeping, shadow of Jesus with His hand on her shoulder
Woman weeping, shadow of Jesus with His hand on her shoulder

Praying for God’s Comfort

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies
and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we

may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with
which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in
Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ESV

What is a Christian’s responsibility in times of suffering? Is it to pray and/or read the Bible more? Is it about resolving to have more faith or trust in Jesus? Is it a matter of being willing to maintain a positive perspective while refusing to give in to adverse circumstances?

To be responsible means that you are accountable or answerable for something; and, in this case, that something is your response to affliction. Such a weighty thought. Yet, as every human will suffer on this side of eternity, it behooves us to accept suffering and ponder deeply on how we are to respond when it comes. James 1:2-4 takes the aspect of suffering further by explaining that hardships are essential for growth in faith:

Signpost pointing two directions with the words, 'Beginning' and 'End'
Signpost pointing two directions with the words, 'Beginning' and 'End'

The Beginning and the End

"Thus says the Lord, the King of
Israel and His Redeemer, the Lord of
hosts: 'I am the first and I am the
last; besides Me there is no god.'"
Isaiah 44:6 ESV
 

This Christmas season provides another opportunity for us to anticipate and celebrate God's gift of love as revealed in His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is not just the cute baby at the centrepiece of every nativity scene. John 1:1-3 tells us: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made."

A woman lifting her hands toward heaven.
Christians praying over map

Praying for Greater Connection

"As it is, there are many parts, yet one body....
If one member suffers, all suffer together;
if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.
"

1 Corinthians 12:20,26 ESV

Persecuted Christians ask that they not be abandoned nor cut off from the body of Christ. Yet, far too often, they feel as though they are alone, forgotten and disconnected from other believers. They long to be in fellowship with their brothers and sisters in Christ, for it is in this environment that they find encouragement and comfort as they exercise their faith.

A woman lifting her hands toward heaven.
A woman lifting her hands toward heaven.

Praying for God's Presence

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what
you have, for He has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'
"

Hebrews 13:5 ESV

At first glance, Hebrews 13:5 might seem out of place when praying for persecuted Christians. However, its context lies within a series of practical points for living out the Christian faith. God calls His people to be distinct from those who belong to the world; and how we live reflects this difference. The Christian faith is not to be passive, quietly confined to our private lives. Rather, faith propels Christians to action, and that action is best described as 'love at work.'

Several folded hands of people praying together
Several folded hands of people praying together

United in Prayer

"You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you
cannot do more than pray until you have prayed. Pray often, for prayer
is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to Satan
."
John Bunyan

Of all the ways we can assist persecuted Christians, prayer is the preeminent appeal. Yet the request for prayer doesn’t negate our obligation to help with practical relief and support efforts. These projects are gratefully received and indispensable for Gospel proclamation and Christian witness in hostile environments. However, without prayer, anything we provide, no matter how substantial, is inadequate.