Emerging Glorious from the Refiner

General October 22, 2008

***** PLEASE PARTICIPATE IN IDOP: 9 or 16 NOVEMBER 2008 *****
The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
For resources, visit http://www.idop.org
*************************************************************

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 502 | Wed 22 Oct 2008

SPECIAL PRAYER for the

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH


By Elizabeth Kendal

We are often reminded that we are living in 'the last days' -- the
days between the resurrection of Christ and his return. We know
these are the days of the Church, mission and the Holy Spirit, as
well as days of tribulation and trial. But lost to most is the fact
that these 'last days' are also the days of the Church's
sanctification. Stories of tribulation and persecution generally
feature the Church as victim and can cause us distress. Stories of
Holy Spirit-empowered mission generally feature the Church as
victor and can encourage us to feel strong, excited and expectant.
But sanctification (the process of being made holy) invariably
involves unpleasant truths, confession, repentance and humility;
hard work, pain and reform. While sanctification is something we
should covet and pursue no matter what the cost, tragically it is
something to which much of the Church remains proudly and
stubbornly resistant.

But God is indeed not only building his Church in the face of
futile but fierce opposition (Matthew 16:18), he is also
sanctifying his Church in preparation for the wedding of the Lamb
(Revelation 19:6-9). While persecution is to be condemned and
opposed as injustice and sin, it is also God's refining fire, where
disparate, drossy bodies are refined and moulded into one in answer
to our Lord's prayer that we should love him and one another with
the same perfect unifying love that defines the Trinity (John 17:20-
23). Further to this, while the godless get angry and perish in the
fires of testing, the children of God look to HIM and in doing so
come to depend upon, know and trust their maker more perfectly (Job
36:5-15). The refiner's fire is where faith is both tested and
perfected for our benefit and the Father's glory.

If we are to be a holy nation (1 Peter 1:13 - 2:12), separated from
all that is worldly and devoted wholly to God, then we must do as
the bride is instructed to do: 'Forget your people and your
father's house, and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is
your lord, bow to him' (Psalm 45:10,11 ESV). Yet we cling to the
world, and our beauty is marred by the dross of worldliness,
idolatry and unfaithfulness. Those who think this is not the case
are deceiving themselves (1 John 1:8). We find it so hard to
forsake the world, but God does not leave us to struggle in
weakness. No, the gracious and faithful master craftsman is working
on us all the time, as individuals and as a Church (local and
global). Nowhere is this more evident than in the midst of
persecution and suffering.

And so we pray: not only for religious liberty and for justice,
deliverance and peace for the persecuted Church, but also for
insight into what God is doing in the life of his people so that we
can 'get on board' and actively participate in, rather than proudly
resist, this wonderful sanctification.

God is purging idolatry, forging unity and removing those sources
of worldly strength upon which we so adulterously depend. He is
increasing our love and our faith. We must never despair over the
loss of political power or influence, for the hope of the Church
was never to be found there (Zechariah 4:6). An abundance of
earthly lights (light pollution) causes the stars in the heavens to
appear dim. It usually takes a power blackout or a trip into the
wilderness for the glory of the heavens to be revealed. The same is
true concerning advocacy for religious liberty and the persecuted
church. An abundance of earthly powers may cause us to forget or
neglect the greater power and love that is in heaven. A political-
power blackout or a trip to the political wilderness may be God's
gracious way of drawing our attention to him and reminding us of
where the true power lies. Prayer is not a lesser form of advocacy,
it is the greatest. So let us pray!

PRAYER (based on Colossians 1:9-14, Psalm 45:10,11 ESV.)

Dear God our Eternal Father,

A great hostility is rising all over the world against your
gospel and against your Church. Despite a decade of
high-powered, economically-driven political advocacy for
religious freedom, persecution of Christians is increasing in
frequency, scope and intensity. Furthermore, because of
geopolitical and economic changes, we are finding ourselves
increasingly helpless (in earthly terms) to prevent it or even
just escape it. Hardship, suffering, vulnerability and despair
are spreading.

Father, we ask you to fill us with the knowledge of your will
in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that amidst
whatever this world and the prince of this world might throw
at us, we may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully
pleasing to you, bearing fruit in every good work and
increasing in the knowledge of God.

May those who are suffering and facing trials, hardships and
even genocidal violence on account of Jesus Christ and his
gospel be strengthened with all power, according to his
glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy. May
the Spirit fill them with assurance of their salvation and an
anticipation of their great inheritance in the Kingdom of
God's Son. May the Holy Spirit lift their heads, restore their
souls and draw them into prayer. May the Father answer their
prayers, deliver them from evil and increase their faith.

Father, by your mighty power and in your amazing gracious love
and mercy, purge us of all worldliness, idolatry,
faithlessness and unfaithfulness, that we might be the
beautiful bride you so desire. Open our eyes and ears and
soften our hearts to your will. Fill us with brotherly love
for all our brethren. Sanctify us. Refine us in these dark
days and strengthen us for the darker days that lie ahead. May
the devil have no victory over us. May your glory be revealed
in all the earth.

AMEN

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Because the Religious Liberty Commission will be participating in
the World Evangelical Alliance General Assembly next week, this RLP
has been issued a week earlier than usual. RLP 503 will be issued
in the first week in November with updates for IDOP.

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Previous RLPs may be viewed at
http://www.ea.org.au/ReligiousLiberty/PrayerPostings.aspx
If you downloaded this message from a website or it
was forwarded to you, you may receive future editions
by sending an empty email to < [email protected] >

Please send this RLP to others, with attribution to
World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Religious Liberty
Prayer List < [email protected] >
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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.

RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.