Our church has asked us to gather with "The Persecuted Church" - churches around the world, in countries where Christianity is hated and people seek to destroy believers, and just pray for them. "For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them." Matthew 18:20.
So, I wanted to blog about this 7 day experience of what we are asked to pray about, what emotions flow from this, and the power of prayer when you pray for something greater than yourself.
What is really great about this is before I went to church this morning I sat in my quiet time with God and just asked him to open my heart to what he wants from me. I felt compelled to open to one of my favorite books in the bible, 1 Samuel. As I began to read Chapter 1 my heart began to open to the words God wanted me to read... the first passage is about Hannah and her grief and anguish in her weakness (hers is the inability to have a child). Her misery and despair is evident in her countenance and in that she begins to weep bitterly and seeks after God with raw emotion. As she prays, she prays from her heart, pouring out her soul to the Lord. Through this God showed me how he wants me to pray, that he wants me to be more intimate, more real, more emotional in my prayers with him. Sometimes I put on a presence of strength and even with God I hide my grief... yet he still knows my heart.
In this it was evident that God wants me to be real in this challenge to pray for 7 days for the persecuted church. So I will be sharing my prayers and feelings with you over this journey. If you feel compelled to join in the prayers, I beg you to join in without hesitation. Let's gather together and lift up those who have stepped out for our Lord, those who are brave and seek and desire to please him... even if it means their life is at stake.
Pray Matthew 5:11-12, 44-45 for the persecuted church. Pray that those who are persecuted will bless those who insult them and rejoice that they are worthy to suffer for Christs name. Pray that they will love their enemies and pray for them, following Christ's example.
As I sit here in comfort, in warmth, in safety, I humbly pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ whom are persecuted. Lord you have broken me, my heart, and for that desperate emotion pours forth, urgency arises as I pray from the depths of my heart.
I pray that through persecution they draw closer to you, although stones are hurled and flesh is beaten, those who seek only to let your name be known find comfort in your arms. Lord, that this worldly selfishness and fear gives way to the strength only your spirit can provide. From the inside out protect them. From their souls, their hearts, their minds. Allow them to fight back with a loving heart, encouraging words, and a light in their eyes that lets others know your spirit has filled them. That through this love, not a worldly love, but a supernatural love, enemies will be brought to their knees, hearts will change, souls will be won over in your name. As they live out your example Lord, loving enemies, serving those who persecute them, that in the end your kingdom is glorified.
Lord, break our hearts for what breaks yours. Let us feel the burden of their pain and lift them up so that you will allow them to feel the love from other Christians even if it is miles away and from someone they do not know.
As we gather in your name to pray for spiritual strength and spiritual comfort for those who are persecuted, remind us that there is no one holy like you, that there is no Rock like our God. For you break the bows of warriors, and you bring death and make life. Nothing can hinder you from saving, whether by many or by few Lord.
I am in this with you Lord, with my whole heart and soul.