Praying for the Persecuted Church

There are many countries in the world today where life can be difficult for Christians. In these countries both individual believers and the church face persecution for their faith.  For those Christians who live in Muslim countries Ramadan can be especially tough and challenging for them.

We may at times feel helpless to know how we can assist and support our fellow Christians in their struggles. One thing we can do though is to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ. But what should we pray?

Open Doors is an organisation that works to supports the persecuted church throughout the world. There are many resources available on their website to help us in praying for our fellow Christians.

They also have a prayer diary and the following five prayers are taken from this month’s issue in which some of the prayers focus on Christians in Muslim countries during Ramadan.

  • Ramadan is a lonely time for many believers from Muslim backgrounds, especially those who must keep their faith secret. Many feel intimated because they are not fasting. Pray that isolated believers will know the Lord’s comfort and be strengthened in their faith.
  • There is an urgent need for Christians who can stand by  believers from Muslim backgrounds, to model the Christian life to them. Pray that churches will be places where  believers from Muslim backgrounds are warmly welcomed and receive the love and care they need – especially during Ramadan.
  • Believers from Muslim backgrounds often visit their families during Ramadan in Malaysia, but these visits can be incredibly difficult, as not every family member supports their decision to follow  Christ. Pray for wisdom for these believers and ask God to use them to open the hearts of their families to the love of Jesus.
  • Pray for wisdom and boldness for Christians in Muslim majority areas looking for ways to share the love of Christ with their Muslim neighbours during Ramadan. Pray that many Muslims will begin their journey towards Jesus as a result of their witness.
  • A Christian in Indonesia was rejected by his family when he became a believer, but he still plans to visit them this Ramadan because he wants them to know about Jesus. Pray for courage and protection as he shares the good news and ask the Holy Spirit to prepare the hearts of his children and relatives to receive the seed of the gospel.

Open Doors do a very good job in supporting the persecuted church and if this is something that interests you I would highly recommend that you explore their website

Keep on Praying

At the beginning of Luke 11 the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. They were aware John the Baptist had taught his disciples how to pray and wanted Jesus to do the same for them.

One of the things that Jesus taught, in response to this question, involved a story of a man who went to his friend’s house at midnight to borrow some bread. This was because he had a visitor and had nothing to feed him. The man kept knocking on his friend’s door until eventually he had a response.

Jesus then went onto say these words:

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (NIV)

Many other versions translate this verse similarly to that (e.g. ESV, KJV, NASB, NRSV, RSV etc). However, interestingly there are some other translations who record it slightly differently:

And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” (NLT)

Some other versions (e.g. The Amplified Bible and the HCSB) also translate it in a similar way.

When looking at that verse, in the later translation, I find the phrase “keep on” very encouraging. Many Christians have probably been praying about something for several years. At times they may feel tempted to give up as their prayer has not yet been answered and they feel discouraged. This could be the salvation of a loved one, the restoring of a backsliding Christian, the release of a believer in prison for their faith in Christ or God’s justice in a situation to be manifested. Jesus is telling us here to keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking and eventually the door will be opened.

Therefore let us not give up but keep on praying as instructed by Jesus.

Published
Categorized as Prayer Tagged

Prayer for the Week

Every Sunday in our church notice sheet there is a prayer for the week. I thought that I would share this week’s prayer:

God of purity and power, as you call us to your service, cleanse our minds with the salt of the gospel, and our lips with the fire of the Spirit, that we speak and live the truth in Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen

Please join me in making this your own personal prayer each day this week.

Pray for those in authority

Last Thursday the Conservative Party won the General Election with a majority of eighty seats. Boris Johnson is still the UK prime minister. Whilst some people were delighted with this result, others were disappointed and upset. Whatever our political views the public have spoken.

Many will probably now switch off from politics until the next opportunity to vote comes along. However, what should we do as Christians?

The most obvious answer to that question is to pray. In his first letter to Timothy the apostle Paul wrote:

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour” (1 Tim 2:1-3)

It’s very interesting when you consider the context in which Paul wrote the above words. He was not living in a modern 21st century democracy with free and open elections. Instead he was living under Roman rule. However, despite of that he still believed people should pray for those in authority.

It’s very easy to criticise our leaders. The challenge for us Christians though is to be people who pray for those in authority. Therefore I would suggest, regardless of how we may have voted, that we pray for the following:

The Prime Minister
Boris Johnson is the prime minister of the UK and as such needs our prayers. Whatever our personal views of him, we should pray for him. It’s not an easy job being prime minister. The position carries huge responsibility. We can pray that he will lead wisely and make just decisions that will be for the benefit of everyone.

The Government
In addition to praying for the prime minister we also need to pray for the various cabinet members. There are some very challenging issues that the government need to tackle in their various departments, for example: Brexit, NHS, child poverty, homelessness to name but some. These are areas that need a great deal of wisdom in tackling and the various ministers responsible for them require our prayers.

Our local MP
We also need to pray for our local member of parliament. Whether you voted for them or not they are your representative in parliament and need your prayers. Although your MP may be on the back benches, they could be on various committees that look at prospective legislation. They have the potential to influence the direction our nation takes and therefore it’s important to remember them too in prayer.

MP’s who are Christians
One of the interesting things about politics is that Christians have differing view on this subject. Therefore, they do not all belong to the same political party. I think it’s important that we remember to pray for those MP’s who have a Christian faith. It’s not easy being a believer in Westminster. There may be occasions where supporting your parties position on a matter means compromising your faith and we need to pray that they would have the courage to make the right decisions. In this environment we pray they might shine for Christ.

Online Prayer Meeting

A few years ago one of the Christian Facebook groups I belonged to held an online prayer meeting and I thought it might be interesting to blog about it.

The prayer meeting was led by the group moderator and instead of speaking our prayers out loud, we typed them out on our laptops / computers into the private Facebook group. This is a different approach for most people, but one of the advantages was that we had to think about what we were saying. It prevented us from rambling on!

If I’m being honest I do struggle with praying. One of my problems is that my mind does tend to wander and my concentration levels are not brilliant. However, I found that during the online praying my mind did not wander and I was able to concentrate. Although this prayer meeting only lasted about 30 minutes, I have found that in shorter prayer times when I’m praying my concentration levels have wandered.

So why could I concentrate better at this meeting? Normally during times of prayer, we bow our heads, close our eyes and then pray. Now obviously I could not do that at this online prayer meeting. Well I could have done, but I would not have known what people were saying in their prayers! I found that by concentrating on the screen, reading the prayers and then thoughtfully typing out my own prayers my concentration levels were much better than normal.

I personally found the prayer meeting very beneficial and felt closer to God during this time. This was interesting because the group contained a mixed bunch of people and a wide range of theological views, not all of which I agreed with. Yet this prayer meeting worked. Afterwards I reflected that I stopped myself judging the content of the prayers of the other people and make sure that I kept a right heart attitude throughout. I am embarrassed to admit that I don’t always do this at prayer meetings!

Some might feel hesitant about the value of online praying but Jesus did say “for when two or three gather together in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20). Nowadays thanks to the wonder of technology those two or three could be literally thousand of miles apart physically but united spiritually through prayer.

Online praying provides us the opportunity to pray with those who we may never meet on this earth. It also means that the house bound person or the parent who cannot go out due to childcare arrangements can also participate in prayer with us. It allows us to pray with our missionary friend when they are away overseas.

Although the prayer meeting I attended was conducted via typing into my laptop, of course you could use tools like Skype and pray out loud as you would normally do in a prayer meeting. There are so many ways that one could use technology to assist them in online prayer meetings. I don’t think that Christians should abandon “real-life” physical prayer meetings and replace them with online ones. But instead these could supplement them.

If you are interested in online praying why not give it a go!

 

Pray before Posting on Social Media

I’m currently reading an interesting book by David Robertson called: What Would Jesus Post? The second chapter is entitled pray before posting and it contains some wise advice which I thought I would share this week in relation to our social media use.

The author believes that there are no occasions where prayer is not appropriate. He reminds us that Paul told the church in Ephesus to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Ephesians 6:18). He also mentions Paul’s encouragement in Philippians 4v6 “do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

With these verses in mind it’s only right for David Robertson to ask us the following questions:

  • When do you pray about your online life?
  • How much do you pray compared to how often you connect online?
  • What view does God have on what we are about to post?

It might seem a strange idea to pray about our online life. However, those two verses mentioned above remind us that we should pray “on all occasions” and “in every situation.” Therefore, it’s not just our offline life that requires prayer but also our online life too. These days we spend so much time online that if we don’t pray about this then that is a big part of our life that we are prayerfully neglecting.

In our church services do we pray for our churches website and social media pages? We believe that it’s important for churches to have a web presence but how often does this become the subject of corporate prayer?

The second question above is obviously very challenging to many of us! I think if we are being honest with ourselves we know that this is an area where there is room for improvement. When we awake in the morning do we connect online before we pray? Likewise, as we go to bed is the last thing we do pray or check our social media feeds? Jesus started each day off in prayer and that’s an example we can all aim to follow.

We have all seen posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that we feel should not have been posted. However, does it occur to us that God will have a view on what we are about to post? It is very important that we always pray before posting on social media. Is the thing we are about to post edifying? Will someone be blessed or encouraged by our post? Alternatively, will our post be making fun at someone or belittling them?

Of course, we can delete our postings on social media but unless we do this immediately someone will probably see it. It’s better to pray before posting to avoid regret and embarrassment.

When we look at our social media feeds we are encouraged to like and share the postings of our friends and followers. Do we just click on the like or share button without either thinking or praying about it first? No doubt if we are honest with ourselves we have probably all liked posts on those platforms that we should not have done. There have been occasions when I have liked a post and then a few minutes later cancelled the like as I realise that I have made a mistake!

In closing lets us remember the importance of praying before we post on social media and asking God for wisdom in what we share online.

God’s Priorities by J. John

God’s Priorities is a book written by J. John on the Lord’s Prayer. The full title of the book, which gives an indication of its theme is: “God’s Priorities – Living Life from the Lord’s Prayer.” Many of us know the Lord’s Prayer off by heart however J. John in this book sets out to challenge us to live this famous prayer.

In each chapter the book addresses a phrase of the Lord’s Prayer in both the old traditional wording (the King James version) and a modern translation of it (the New Living Translation).

However, before he moves into the subject matter, in the first chapter of the book “The Preliminaries of Prayer”, the author outlines who he believes can say the prayer. J. John states that the prayer can only be said by those who are members of God’s family. He then outlines the gospel message and how we can become a member of God’s family.

There then follows seven chapters which are called: Privilege, Praise, Purpose, Provision, Pardon, Protection and Perspective. At the end of each chapter there are questions for the reader to ponder.

God’s Priorities is a very practical book which will challenge the reader as they read each chapter. J. John will encourage you to see if you need to be involved in the answer to your prayers. For example: if you are praying for God’s name to be honoured then how can you honour God’s name in your life, work, home and community!

It will help us to get our priorities in the right order when we pray. Many of us I guess start off our daily prayers concentrating on our own needs and wants. This book as you might imagine will help the reader to change that habit.

In my church we pray the Lord’s Prayer each week in our service and it can be easy to repeat it parrot fashion without thinking about what we are saying. Therefore, for me it was good to read this book and to be challenged and inspired by the Lord’s Prayer.

How to Pray

You may have heard of the “ACTS” method of praying. In this instance ACTS stands for:

    • A = Adoration
    • C = Confession
    • T = Thanksgiving
    • S = Supplication

 

Last Sunday I heard a sermon called “How to Pray” by Bayless Conley on television. In his sermon Bayless spoke about a method he uses called “Pray”. The initials stand for:

  • P = Praise
  • R = Repentance
  • A = Ask
  • Y =Yielding

Interestingly both methods mentioned above put praise to God ahead of asking for things when we pray. I suspect many of us if we are honest start with asking for things rather than praising God! The obvious advantage of starting with praise / adoration is that helps us to fix our eyes on God rather than focusing on ourselves.

If you are struggling with prayer I think using either of the above would be helpful to enhance your pray life.

Published
Categorized as Prayer Tagged