It’s time to reassess the value of persecution and how to pray for God’s will in it.
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
Following up on my previous article on persecution, I’d like to look at how we should
pray for fellow believers who are suffering for their faith. It’s easy to forget that Jesus promised that the world would reject and mistreat His faithful followers just as it rejected Him. This poses an interesting question. Could it be that the only way God could actually answers prayers asking for the persecution to stop…would be to stop people from believing in Christ? Based on what Jesus said, this appears to be the case. If it is true, then our typical “persecution-ending” prayers may be the equivalent of asking that people not come to faith in Christ!
The author of The Insanity of God explains that neither he nor his wife had ever heard a request for “persecution-ending “prayers from even one of the church members they had interviewed during their time in nations where persecution was common. Instead, these believers were asking for prayers that “they would be faithful and obedient through their persecution and suffering.”
The author was so moved by this response that he sought to discover what it was that caused millions of the global followers of Jesus to openly practice their faith in environments where persecution is the norm. What he discovered was that these people had truly given their lives to Jesus and they had determined that they would not keep Jesus to themselves. If they wanted to avoid persecution, all they had to do was keep their mouth shut about Jesus. For them, that was not an option.
AS I SEE IT
We here in the West can learn a lot from our brothers and sisters in more dangerous places around the world. They desperately want us to realize that the greatest enemy of our faith is not communism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Atheism, or even Islam. Our greatest enemy is lostness- the enemy Jesus commissioned His followers to vanquish with a battle strategy he spelled out for us in Matthew 28:18-20.
This bring us back to the crucial question-How should we pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world? This assumes that we actually care and are already praying, but that’s another issue. I have determined to pray:
1. that each instance of persecution around the world would end only when it has accomplished God’s purpose.
2. that God would sustain His faithful followers, giving them endurance, maturing their faith, and drawing them ever closer to God.
3. that their godly response would be a testimony to their captors of the reality of the God they serve.
Oh that we in the West could wake up and face the truth. God doesn’t exist to meet our every need and want so we can live a happy and pain-free life. His goal is to make us holy, and the road to holiness goes directly through pain and suffering. If we could only grasp the brevity of this life compared to eternity and be willing to give our all for the one who gave His all for us.