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What Christians should pray for in times of persecution

Missionaries at North Korea's Universities

It is obvious that Christians all over the world are experiencing persecution. Many Christians have been killed and many are homeless due to the works of the enemies of the Gospel. In many countries, Christians are marginalized, denied jobs, beaten, and murdered.

In the midst of these challenges, are we supposed to accept defeat, deny our faith and stop preaching Christ? Or do we risk all and continue even when it is apparent that it is a matter of life and death? Many missionaries have abandoned their fields of primary assignments and only 3% of Christian missionaries worldwide focus on unreached people groups. The major reason why the unreached have been starved of the Gospel is because of persecution. Every wave of persecution is aimed at stopping the spread of the Gospel.

In a time like this what do we do? The first resort we have as Christians is always prayer. In Nigeria, individual Christians and churches have organized prayer meetings everywhere. We often pray that God should take away persecution from us. However, I have realized that during the time of persecution in the Bible, the saints also resorted to prayers, but theirs were qualitatively different from ours. After Peter and John were released by the Sanhedrin with the warning of not to speak further in the name of Christ, they lifted their voice with one accord and prayed.  A close look at the content of their prayer might be of help to us today.

“And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’ for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus” (Acts 4:24-30).

They prayed with one accord, extolled God, referred to His words, showed Him their predicaments and the threats of the enemies and asked Him for boldness to continue to preach Christ and that He should confirm His words with signs and wonders as they go about preaching. They did not ask for protection or that God should take away the persecution and kill all the persecutors. These are men and women who understood that persecutions and attacks are unavoidable in Christianity since Jesus has told them to get prepared (Luke 12:4-11, Mathew 10:23).

In my opinion, I recommend that persecuted Christians should take an example from the early Christians and pray the way they did. My fear is that many of us will not be willing to pray for the spirit of boldness because we love our lives too much and are not ready to take risks for the sake of the Gospel. Many Christians believe that Christianity is about comfort and wealth acquisition and will find it difficult to embrace persecution as a harbinger to glorification.

After receiving the Holy Ghost, the apostles remained in Jerusalem until persecution arose and scattered them all over the region. Persecution drove the church in Jerusalem out of its comfort zone. Maybe this current persecution will achieve the same end for those of us who are getting too comfortable in our cathedrals and mansions.

I am persuaded beyond every reasonable doubt that if we ask God to give us the boldness to preach Christ during persecution that He will grant our request. This will enable us to boldly reach out to the raging world with the Gospel and love of Christ. Maybe through Gospel intervention many of our persecutors will embrace Christ and become great instruments like Paul. At the end of the day, the risks that we take to reach the unreached can’t be compared with the risks of leaving them unevangelized.

Oscar Amaechina is the president of Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network, Abuja, Nigeria. His calling is to take the gospel to where no one has neither preached nor heard about Jesus. He is the author of the book Mystery Of The Cross Revealed.  

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