INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER
FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH
In the modern church calendar, the first two Sundays of November are set apart to remember and pray for those persecuted for their faith in Christ. We call these days the International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP).
Today’s greatest untold story is that more than 100 million Christians worldwide face persecution for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Daily Christians in countries such as Eritrea, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Sudan and Sri Lanka face imprisonment, violence and even death.
IDOP is a time set apart for us to remember thousands of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world who suffer persecution, simply because they confess Jesus as Lord.
The Bible tells us in Hebrews 13:3 to ‘remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering’.
Can we pause our busy lives today and think of those enduring persecution for the sake of the Gospel? Let us remember those who have not eaten for days because they are given nothing to eat … those languishing in prison … Christian families who have watched their homes burn to the ground … pastors beaten and tortured for their faith, enduring physical pain … Christian families and children living in constant fear of violence … those who have lost loved ones … those facing death, even right at this moment, for refusing to denounce Christ…
If you or I were in such a situation, what would you ask your wider Church family to do for you?
Every time I ask a persecuted Christian what we can do for them, the answer is always the same: ‘please pray for us’.
On a visit to India, I met several widows of Christian leaders who were killed in the Orissa violence in the summer of 2008. They had lost everything: their homes, possessions and husbands. ‘We have lost everything except our faith,’ one told me, clutching her baby. ‘Pray that we stay strong and bring up our children in the faith for which their fathers gave their lives.’
The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) gives us the privilege to join together with over half a million churches in 150 countries to pray for the suffering Church. It plays a vital role in encouraging and strengthening the persecuted Church and also awakening churches in places with no persecution.
Let us unite in prayer for the persecuted Church, in the spirit of oneness that Christ commanded: ‘For, if one suffers, we all suffer.’