When You Pray for Persecuted Believers, Pray Also for God’s Name to Be Glorified

Kathy Howard
Kathy Howard

Stories of persecuted believers fill social media and top the headlines. Faithful pastors imprisoned in Iran. Bold children beheaded in Iraq. Precious fellow Christians slaughtered in Syria.

These stories break my heart and raise familiar questions. Why does God allow the suffering —and even slaughter — of His people? Why doesn’t He rescue them and bring judgment on the persecutors? That is the enduring question the book of Revelation addresses (see Revelation 6:10, “How long, O Lord?”).

Today, as I read still another tragic account, the need to pray overwhelmed me. Yet, I felt so inadequate about how and what to pray. My first thought was to pray for their physical deliverance — to pray that all believers would have the same freedom to worship Christ that we enjoy here in America. I wanted to beg God to deliver them from their persecutors, to petition heaven that all persecution would end.

A few months ago that’s exactly how I prayed — and still do. But now those prayers by themselves feel inadequate. God has been shifting my perspective on the persecution of believers, how He uses it and how it fits into His overall purposes.

I don’t mean to say — nor do I believe — that God causes or brings the persecution. But somehow, in His mysterious economy, He chooses to use it.

Jesus Himself said the world would hate those who belong to Him (John 15:18-19). He said the world would persecute us because His righteousness in us reveals their sin (John 7:7, 15:22-24).

And Jesus declared that God uniquely works in and through the persecution of believers to provide a witness, to further His Kingdom and to bring glory to Himself (Matthew 10:18-20).

Sounds completely contrary to the world’s way, doesn’t it?

In “The Insanity of Obedience,” author Nik Ripkin asks this startling question: “Is it possible that God has purposes that are tied to the suffering of His people?” Considering what Jesus Himself said about persecution, I think I would be forced to answer “yes.” Even though it’s shocking. Even though I’d rather it not be true.

Commenting on Jesus’ experience on the cross, Ripkin also wrote, “Judging by what eventually happened to Jesus Himself, we come to understand that persecution and suffering and sacrifice are necessary parts of His [God’s] ultimate strategy, even today.”

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Baptist Press
Kathy Howard

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