If One Part Suffers…

If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also…They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.  (John 15:20-21, NIV)

Christians around the world are suffering. They are being mistreated, persecuted, and martyred at the hands of governments, political groups, and individuals — simply because they are followers of Jesus Christ. Only a few of their stories are being shared by news outlets; as of this writing Voice of the Martyrs has identified 60 “restricted areas” and “hostile nations” around the world.

Those of us physically removed from the suffering can feel helpless. We do not have the power to stop the violence or change the mindset of the persecutors. But God has given us the means to strengthen and support our brothers and sisters who are suffering for Him: prayer.

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Hebrews 13:3, NIV)

…There should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it… (I Corinthians 12:25-26, NIV)

…The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16, NIV)

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. (I Peter 3:12, Psalm 34:15-16, NIV)

We can remember those who are suffering in our prayers. We can show our concern for the persecuted through prayer. We can strengthen and support those being mistreated through prayer. The Bible promises that God hears and acts on the prayers of His children. It also reveals that our prayers — which are sometimes ridiculed as useless and childish by non-Christians — are powerful and effective in God’s hands. In fact, our prayers often accomplish more than our actions.

What can we pray for those who are being persecuted? How can we, who have not faced severe hardship, know what they really need? Fortunately, God’s Word offers guidance.

My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will. (Matthew 26:39, NIV)

First, we can follow Jesus’ example and pray that the persecution, mistreatment, and abuse stops. Our loving Father always wants to hear what is on our hearts, and we do not want others to suffer! It is perfectly acceptable to ask Him to intervene and rescue people from suffering. But, as Jesus models, we must ask in submission to God’s will. He has a purpose and plan that we cannot fully see or comprehend, and what we are asking may not fit with His will. Some may think this makes our prayers useless or worthless, but that is a lie Satan uses to discourage us from connecting with God through openness, prayer, and surrender. Far more life is confident that God hears our prayers and will answer them in the best possible way.

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. (Psalm 29:11, NIV)

But as for me, afflicted and in pain — may your salvation, God, protect me. (Psalm 69:29, NIV)

 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, (Ephesians 3:16, NIV)

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, (Ephesians 1:18, NIV)

We can also pray for spiritual strength for those enduring persecution. We can pray that they will see God’s hand at work and that His provision, faithfulness, and love will be evident. We can pray that He keeps their hearts at peace regardless of their circumstances. We can pray that their hope is secure in Him and allows them to see their role in the spiritual battle raging around them. We can pray that they experience far more life as the Spirit empowers them with all they need to remain spiritually strong.

And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:38, NIV)

…What has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. (Philippians 1:12, NIV)

…With the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. (I Thessalonians 2:2, NIV)

The way in which Jesus suffered and died caused at least one witness to recognize His true identity. We can pray for the gospel message — that forgiveness for sin and eternal life in heaven are found in Jesus Christ alone — to be heard and accepted because of persecution. We can pray for the light of salvation to shine brightly through the darkness of suffering and draw people to Christ. We can pray that our mistreated and martyred brothers and sisters reveal the power and glory of God in their lives and in their deaths. We can pray the places with greatest opposition are the places where God’s kingdom advances the most.

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer…Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown. (Revelation 2:10, NIV)

Praise God that this life is not the end. Those who suffer and die for Him on earth will reap far more life eternally!

Sisters,
If you were surprised to read so many places are spiritually “restricted” or “hostile”, visit persecution.com to learn more.
Will you join me — and followers of Christ worldwide — in praying for our brothers and sisters who are suffering?
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso

Praying Praise

I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together. (Psalm 34:1-3, NLT)

You deserve our constant praise, Lord. Even if we spent our whole lives praising You, we would never run out of reasons to glorify You. As we praise You, we see how much more praise you deserve! With You as our Father, we never need to feel helpless; we can remember the great things You have already done and trust You to do more. Your work in others’ lives prompts us to praise You, too. Far more life is filled with Your praise!

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. (Psalm 34:4-7, NLT)

Thank you for hearing and answering us, Father. Thank You for helping us see our fears are baseless against your wisdom and power; You hold us and our future securely in Your hands. Your provision makes us glow with confidence, love, and joy; we have nothing to fear or worry. Our weakness is offset by Your strength; help us to recognize our need for You sooner so we do not waste time floundering. Thank You for saving, protecting, and defending us — often without our awareness. Without Your help and intervention, we would not be able to survive! Far more life expectantly looks to You as the source of truth and grace.

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing. (Psalm 34:8-10, NLT)

Your goodness is evident to those who place their trust in You. Your abundant love and provision lead us to praise You. When we humble ourselves before You and place ourselves in Your keeping, we know You will provide. You are sovereign over all creatures, yet You promise to always meet our deepest needs; thank You! Far more life celebrates Your goodness and proclaims your abundance.

Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the Lord. Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous? Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. (Psalm 34:11-14, NLT)

Teach us from your wisdom, Lord, and soften our hearts to accept what we read in Your Word. We want to listen to You and follow your wise counsel. Help us to recognize evil so we can stay far away from it. Give us a desire for peace so we can enjoy Your blessing in our relationships. Your ways are simple, even a child can understand them. We are like children before You, Lord; thank you for patiently reminding us what is best. Far more life listens and obeys.

The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil; he will erase their memory from the earth. The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. (Psalm 34:15-18, NLT)

We are relieved to know Your eyes and ears are always on us. We depend on You for help in the troubles we encounter. We need Your comfort to overcome the grief and fear we face. Thank you for always being there. Always. Far more life stays connected to You, through both good and challenging times.

The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken. Calamity will surely destroy the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished. But the Lord will redeem those who serve him. No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned. (Psalm 34:19-22, NLT)

Thank you that we can depend on You to rescue us. Even when it looks different from what we expect or prefer, we can trust You to do what is best for us. Thank you for protecting us from dangers that we cannot even perceive; Your love for us is humbling and inspiring. We are thankful that final justice lies in Your hands. Our enemies are Your enemies and You will take care of them in Your perfect timing. We can release them to You and move on. Thank you for being a safe refuge for those You have redeemed. Far more life rests in You today and for all eternity.

We praise You for who You are and what You do. We pray to You through Jesus and are humbled that You hear us, Amen.

Sisters,
What praise is on your heart, mind, and lips today? How can you share His greatness with others?
How have you experienced God’s protection and provision? Did you thank Him for that?
What challenge or trouble are you facing today? Have you talked to God about it? Asked for His help? Searched His Word for wisdom?
Are you looking to Him for wisdom? Peace? Comfort? If not, confess your distance and any barriers that keep you away.
Thank Him for giving you far more life, an eternal connection to Him!
-Shari