(This post was first published in November 2015 and it is updated for International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church 2017)
November 5 will be the 23rd annual observance of IDOP. But don’t let that stop from you praying every Sunday, if your church and pastor are willing. In fact, pray unceasingly for our suffering brothers and sisters around the world.
So, how to pray for the Persecuted Church? We can pray extemporaneous prayers and/or we can use prayers written by saints of old such as in the Book of Common Prayer or by saints of not-so-old in materials provided by organizations working with IDOP, such as the Barnabas Fund, World Evangelical Alliance, Open Doors, or Voice of the Martyrs. Also, there are resources by yours truly in various posts on Juicy Ecumenism.
Personally, I like to include praying the Psalms for persecuted Christians in our global family. You can find one example of this on IRD’s website, under the category “This Day We Fight.” It is also in the story archives on Juicy Ecumenism.
But other than specially set-aside days like IDOP, how do we remind ourselves to pray for suffering members of the Body of Christ? With all of the horrific news coming from around the world, it would seem unlikely that those Christians would be far from our minds. But sometimes that horrific news just shocks us, angers us, and leaves us paralyzed. We need to get into the habit of praying in response to news about Christians in Iraq and Syria, Nigeria and Sudan, Pakistan and Egypt, China and North Korea, and everywhere else where believers face persecution and death for standing for Christ.
In addition to using the news to pray, we can provide ourselves with memory tricks that help us to pray regularly and systematically. One friend prays for persecuted Christians every time he feels an ache or pain in his own body, or stubs a toe, or cuts a finger. Another uses every elevator trip to pray for those who suffer persecution. You could start shooting up a prayer to the Lord every time you turn on a light switch. Or every time you stop at a traffic light! Heaven knows, there’s plenty of opportunities to pray there!
Whatever you decide please do keep in mind that as Christians we are called, and have a Biblical responsibility to prayer for the persecuted members of the Church. And I believe that one of the reasons why God calls us to pray, is so He can then burn a passion for the persecuted in our hearts, and send us out on missions of advocacy and aid, as well. Be ready!