Praying for Persecuted Believers
Last week I wrote about praying for the world, using geography, the news, and missionary letters as prayer fodder. By doing this, we are integrating our social studies (geography and world events) with our spiritual life, making them one and the same. We want to teach our children that their relationship with God, their life in the Spirit, affects and permeates all areas of life; our connection with God is to be the control center of all that we are and do. Here again are the 4 suggestions from last week's blog:
1. Subscribe to one or more of World magazine's publications, depending on the ages of your children. As you read through it, turn the news into prayer with your children.
2. Get the game Where in the World? and play it once or twice a week. At the end of the game, pray around for the countries you've identified.
3. Start a missionary prayer letter notebook. Whenever a new letter comes into your email, print it off, put it in the notebook and take some time to pray with your children. Identify the country on a map.
4. Whenever you hear of someone in need or of some current news event (e.g., a hurricane or an earthquake or an ambulance going by, etc.) stop right then and take a few minutes to pray.
We can also integrate geography and social studies with prayer by cultivating the habit of praying for persecuted believers in Jesus Christ. We are exhorted to do this in God's Word (Hebrews 13:3). One of the best ways I know of to pray for persecuted believers is to subscribe to the Voice of the Martyrs newsletter. It comes out once a month in the form of a small magazine. Each article tells of Christians who are facing difficulties and persecution for their faith. This magazine provides an excellent resource for your geography lessons. The stories of faith will inspire you and your children to stand for Christ. After reading an article, turn the story into prayer for that person, family, church, and nation. Simply pray around your family circle for those you've just read about. It doesn't take long.
Each year Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) encourages churches to recognize one Sunday in November as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP). This year it falls on November 4th. If your church does not recognize this annual call to prayer, perhaps your family could introduce your church to it by asking your pastor if 5 minutes of the service could be dedicated to that. VOM always puts out a short video (DVD) for churches to show on that Sunday to raise awareness of the need to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world. The DVD is free and can be ordered or downloaded from this URL page: https://www.persecution.com/IDOP/. Send the link to your pastor for him to view and ask about showing it to your congregation.
Last year I asked our pastor about this, and he responded by asking me to make a presentation. At the end of the brief powerpoint presentation, I asked our church congregation to commit to pray for one minute a day for persecuted believers. I don't know if anyone else is doing it, but God has held my feet to the fire with that commitment! Throughout the year, I've been able to pray for many troubled areas around the world. I'm learning to think of others and to empathize through prayer.
Here are 10 items VOM suggests we pray for our persecuted family: that they would . . .
sense God's Presence with them (Hebrews 13:5)
know the greater body of Christ is praying for them (II Timothy 1:3)
experience God's comfort (II Thessalonians 2:16-17)
see God open doors to evangelism (Colossians 4:3)
boldly share the Gospel (Acts 4:29)
forgive and love their persecutors (Matthew 5:44)
be granted wisdom in covert ministry work (Acts 9:23-25)
remain joyful amid suffering (Acts 5:41)
mature in their faith (Colossians 1:28-29)
be rooted in God's Word (II Timothy 3:16-17)
As I've prayed for persecuted believers, I've tried to put myself mentally in their place. Through that means, I've thought of other things to pray for. For those suffering in prisons around the world, prisons that are probably not as comfortable or humane as some of our US prisons, I've prayed that God would keep them warm as cold weather sets in and provide blankets for them, give them adequate food, provide facilities for good hygiene, allow visitors to come and encourage them, give them opportunities to share the Gospel with fellow inmates and with their guards, provide for their families when husbands are imprisoned, help them to endure, uphold their faith so that it would not fail, strengthen them by His Spirit within, allow them to have a Bible or remind them of Scriptures if they don't have one . . . the list could go on and on. Ask you children to think of ways they would want to be prayed for, how it would feel for them to either be imprisoned or to have one of their parents imprisoned. Let them use their own imaginations to learn to empathize and then to pray.
By identifying countries around the world and hearing the stories of other Christians, we teach beyond the basic knowledge of geography and inculcate (instill an attitude, idea, or habit through persistent instruction) a world vision. This is one of the primary purposes of homeschooling, defining the difference between mere education and whole-life learning.