More than 360 million Christians live in places where they face high levels of persecution, according to World Evangelism Alliance (WEA).
That’s one in seven, the organization says.
And churches all over the world are being asked to pray for these Christians who share their faith, but not their freedom, as part of this year’s International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, on either Nov. 6 or 13, whichever Sunday is most convenient for their congregation.
The theme of this year’s event is “Stand Firm.”
Christian persecution is on the rise all over the world, from Nigeria, India and Algeria, to Afghanistan, says WEA Secretary General Thomas Schirrmacher said in an article on IDOP.org.
Every day in many parts of the world, Christians are harassed, discriminated against, wrongfully imprisoned and even killed because of their faith, he said. According to the World Watch List for Christian persecution, over 5,000 people were killed in 2021 because of their faith in Jesus.
These hurting Christians don’t ask for their persecution to end, says an IDOP.org video promoting the event. They ask for things like endurance, for courage, for faith and hope. And more than anything they want to know that they’re not alone, and that the worldwide Body of Christ is standing with them through prayer and staying mindful of their needs.
“Pray for Christians who are facing blasphemy laws, that God will encourage them and strengthen them to go forward in spite of the danger they face. This is one of the things that we can pray for as we approach the International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians.”
Pray that believers from a Muslim background will have courage and conviction, he said. One of the most dangerous things a person can do is turn from Islam to Christ. Renouncing Islam is a crime in 24 countries and often carries a death sentence.
The Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:12 that everyone who desires to live a godly life will be persecuted. But Schirrmacher reminds churches that this is not the end of the story.
“Jesus says … ‘but take heart, I have overcome the world,’” he says, quoting from John 16:33. “Persecution, therefore, is not a defeat for the believer!”
IDOP calls for churches to unite in prayer that the Holy Spirit would enable persecuted Christians to stand firm in their faith and be obedient to Christ, even as they serve Him through many hardships—and when possible, to support those who serve on the front lines of persecution, so as to advance God’s Kingdom around the world.
For more information, and for helpful resources to observe the International Day of Prayer in your church, visit IDOP.org.