The Bible tells us in Hebrews 13:3 to 'remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering'.
Can we today pause our busy lives and think of those who are enduring persecution for the sake of the Gospel? Let us remember those who have not eaten for days because they are given nothing to eat … those languishing in prison … Christian families who have watched their homes burn to the ground … pastors who are beaten and tortured for their faith and enduring physical pain … Christian families and children living in constant fear of violence … those who have lost their loved ones … those who are facing death, even right at this moment, for refusing to denounce Christ…
If you or I were in such a situation, what would you ask your wider church family to do for you?
Every time I ask a persecuted Christian what we can do for them, the answer is always the same: 'please pray for us'.
On a visit to India, I met several widows of Christian leaders who were killed in the Orissa violence in the summer of 2008. They had lost everything: their homes, their possessions and their husbands. 'We have lost everything except our faith,' one told me, clutching her baby. 'Pray that we stay strong and bring up our children in the faith for which their fathers gave their lives.'
The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) gives us the privilege of joining together with over half a million churches in 150 countries to pray for the suffering church. It plays a vital role in encouraging and strengthening the persecuted church and also awakening churches in places where there is no persecution.
Let us unite in prayer in 2012 for the persecuted church, in the spirit of oneness that Christ commanded: 'For, if one suffers, we all suffer.'
The Religious Liberty Commission of World Evangelical Alliance
The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church was launched in 1996 by the Religious Liberty Commission of the World Evangelical Fellowship (now the World Evangelical Alliance). Visit www.idop.org for resources and more information.