In a recent sermon, the rector of my church recommended adding the Psalms to our prayers, if we had not already discovered this wonderful method of praying. At various times, I have used the Psalms in prayer, but that reminder was an encouragement to be more intentional about using this treasure trove of prayers.
Of course, praying the Psalms is also a powerful way to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. If anyone fits the description “the cords of death entangled me,” it is Christians in Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, or wherever Christians are suffering for the sake of Christ.
Wouldn’t it be great if Christians in the West all committed daily to praying Psalms on behalf of our persecuted brothers and sisters?
Here’s an example of doing just that from the Psalm I referenced above.
First, read the Psalm — or the portion of it which you are praying — aloud, if possible. Ask God to reveal prayer points to you and how they relate to a particular group of persecuted Christians.
Psalm 18: 1 – 6, NIV
I love You, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies. The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears.
Now, a sample prayer for Iraqi Christians based on those verses:
Lord, thank You that You are the strength, rock, fortress, and deliver for Christians in Iraq. Please continue to give them refuge from ISIS and to be a stronghold for them against the demonic forces that assail them. Hear them when they cry to You, O Lord, and please give ears to Your people in American churches to hear their cries, too. We ask, Father God, that You would cut the cords of death that entangle them, and that You would be a breakfront against the torrents of destruction that are trying to overwhelm them. ISIS and other jihadists seek to build an Islamic Caliphate and wipe out the presence of Jesus’ followers who have been there since He walked the earth. Let Your deliverance of Your people in Iraq be a witness of Your mighty power to them and to the whole world. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.
We can pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters the very words in God’s own Word. We can cry out to Him on their behalf the way that King David cried out — being honest about our fear, anger, frustration, and desperation — even as we trust in His love and justice to prevail.