Each year in November, Christians around the world mark International Days of Prayer (IDOP) for the Persecuted Church by uniting in prayer for their spiritual brothers and sisters who face opposition, discrimination, violence and sometimes death because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
Last Sunday, Nov. 1, kicked off 2020’s first IDOP, with thousands of participants joining in solidarity with persecuted members of the Body of Christ. This year’s theme—”One With Them”—references 1 Corinthians 12:26, which reads, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (ESV). Believers have another opportunity this Sunday, Nov. 8, to take part in engaging the global church in prayer for those suffering for their faith.
Open Doors USA estimates there are more than 260 million Christians who live in places where they face persecution for their religious beliefs—that’s one in eight Christians worldwide.
“Our Christian brothers and sisters in many countries are facing persecution and martyrdom on an unprecedented scale,” Franklin Graham said at BGEA’s World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians in 2017. “In fact, throughout the world the number of Christians facing hostility, persecution and even death is greater than any other time in history. No part of the Christian family is exempt. Nor is any part of the world exempt.”
The problem continues today, and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association suggests five ways to pray for persecuted Christians:
1. Pray for those in the midst of persecution (Hebrews 13:3)
Pray the millions of persecuted believers will not only stay committed to the call of Christ but also will respond in love to the evil shown by their aggressors. God’s love will open doors for these believers to share the Gospel even more.
2. Pray for those who are doing the persecuting (Matthew 5:44)
Pray that God would open the eyes and soften the hearts of these individuals who bring unfathomable abuse upon Christians. Remember as you pray that God sent His Son for the whole world. He does not want anybody—even these individuals—to perish.
3. Pray for the families and loved ones of those being persecuted (Hebrews 4:16)
Ask God to comfort families who many times do not receive updates about their loved one and are not allowed to visit, or it’s simply not safe enough to do so. Pray they, too, will remain faithful to the calling God has placed on their lives.
4. Pray that churches would rise up (Acts 4:23-35)
Support from the Body of Christ is so critical. Whether we are giving up our time in prayer or our resources in physical support, the church must rally around those suffering for Christ. American Christians also should rattle the door of Washington by writing their elected officials. Remind them the persecution of Christians is a real issue that must be addressed.
5. Pray that world leaders would do all they can to fight this persecution (Psalm 2:10-11)
God makes it clear in His Word that leaders have a responsibility. Pray God would stir their hearts, and they would not only draft but enact the necessary policies and procedures to make a lasting, global difference.