Posts Tagged ‘Pray’
Posted on January 12th, 2015 by Jonathan
If you’re new to Secret Church, that may leave you with more questions than answers. So to learn what exactly the prayer focus is, watch the two minute video below. You can also explore the prayer focus websites from last year or the year before that.
As the video explained, it’s more than a few minutes on the night of Secret Church. After Secret Church, we’ll be devoting the entire month of May to focused prayer for Vietnam, so now is the time to begin thinking and praying about how you can encourage your church or small group to pray for the Peoples of Vietnam.
Posted on January 2nd, 2015 by Jonathan
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:11-12
For over two years, Pastor Saeed Abedini has been imprisoned in Iran for Christian activity. For over five years, Christians in Nigeria have suffered fatal attack after fatal attack at the hands of the terrorist group Boko Haram. For five and a half years, Asia Bibi has been awaiting execution in a Pakistani prison for supposed blasphemy against Allah. These are just a few of the known situations in which Christians are suffering violent injustice. So what are we, their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, supposed to do? Is Jesus suggesting that we smile and nod as if all is well?
First, let’s shed some light on Jesus’ striking statement about persecution, above.
Though not exactly parallel, consider exercise. There is a cost for getting fit. If you’ve ever had trouble walking down a set of stairs after doing squats or difficulty brushing your teeth after doing curls, you know what it feels like. It may be painful, and some instances may be worse than others, but it’s a good hurt. Your sore muscles prove that you’ve been using them and mean you’re getting stronger.
Now think about persecution. In the terms of our exercise analogy, persecution isn’t the work-out… it’s the soreness. Just as people don’t go to the gym to get sore, Christians don’t share the gospel to get a violent backlash. That’s not the goal. You go to the gym to become stronger, and you proclaim the gospel that God may be glorified. That is the goal.
When we don’t have this end goal in view, we can often have an improper perspective on the type of persecution (and subsequent rejoicing) Jesus talks about in Matthew 5. We can shortsightedly look at this passage, and others like it, and conclude that persecution is a “blessed” thing in itself. But that’s not what Jesus says – he blesses persecuted people, not persecution. And why? Because being reviled, persecuted, and slandered is simply evidence of acting on Jesus’ account. And just because he blesses them, doesn’t mean their aches and tears go away. There’s a subtle, yet key, difference between rejoicing in such suffering and enjoying it. Although people don’t enjoy sore muscles, they can be glad about sore muscles because it means they’re getting stronger. In the same way, although our brothers and sister don’t enjoy persecution, they can be glad about persecution because it means they’re proclaiming Christ.
I think this is what Jesus is saying – we can rejoice in persecution even though it isn’t enjoyable. But this has more to do with the attitude and demeanor of the persecuted than it does our response. Are we supposed to do anything about it? Yes. There are at least three things we should do in response to the persecution of Christians, and none of them include passive smiling and nodding.
First, we should be challenged to spread the gospel. The reality is, Christians are not persecuted for relegating their worship and witness to the home. Persecution occurs in opposition to gospel proclamation. When we hear of brothers and sisters being persecuted for boldly sharing their faith, we should ask ourselves, “Am I sharing my faith? Am taking advantage of my freedom?”
Second, we should pray for the persecuted. We can’t overemphasize this response even though it is an obvious one. What may not be as obvious, though, is what to pray. Acts 4:24-30 provides a helpful starting point: pray for their continued boldness, the power of the Holy Spirit, and fruitfulness. But do we pray for their safety? Yes! That leads to the last response…
Third, we should advocate for freedom and justice on behalf of the persecuted. As part of the body with them, we suffer when they do. Fighting for their well-being is part of loving our brothers and sisters well. Believers are to follow Jesus’ example of standing up on behalf of the oppressed, Christian or not. Where there is injustice, we labor for justice to reflect our just God. And on top of all that, we should fight for their freedom to proclaim the God-glorifying gospel, because, again, that is the ultimate goal.
Posted on December 18th, 2014 by Jonathan
… the Peoples of Vietnam! That’s who we’ll be learning about in the coming months, who we’ll pray for together the night of Secret Church, and who we’ll pray for throughout the month of May and beyond. There is much more to be said about the people groups in Vietnam and why they’re worthy of our collective focus, but for now, pray about how you might involve your small group and/or church in supporting the work there.
Posted on December 8th, 2014 by Jonathan
The IMB has made David Platt’s below message widely available as a tool for mobilizing churches to pray, give, and go to the nations. If your church or small group is looking for a good way to encourage participation in missions, giving and going, consider this free resource — it’s designed to do just that.
For additional global missions offering resources, visit the IMB website.
Posted on October 29th, 2014 by Jonathan
We don’t normally think of persecution occurring in countries like Uganda, but it does. Susan’s story should remind us that each day, Christians all over the world face intense opposition–in the obviously brutal North Koreas and the deceptively “Christian” Ugandas. Whatever the context, unlike Susan, most of their stories go untold. This should compel us to pray.
For this reason, let me encourage you to participate in the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church through a free and interactive webcast hosted by Open Doors on November 1st and 2nd. The first night allows for interaction with believers from all over the world, and the second night is designed as a time of worship together. Special guests include David Platt, Nik Ripken, and Selah.
This is a great opportunity for your small group or church to get together and pray. For suffering believers we know of, like Susan. For believers whose suffering is unknown to us. And for those under whose hand they suffer. May this webcast faithfully serve the persecuted church as it encourages you to give Christ’s name the honor it is due, wherever you find yourself . . . North Korea, Uganda, or the United States.
To participate in Open Doors’ free, interactive webcast, RSVP here.
Posted on October 25th, 2014 by Jonathan
Each weekday, Desiring God posts a feature on their website called Ask Pastor John. In it, John Piper addresses a wide variety of issues based on questions that people send in. The segments are short, interesting, and practical; we highly recommend taking advantage of this resource.
In last Thursday’s edition, Piper talked about his reaction to David Platt recently becoming the president of the International Mission Board. It was a good reminder of the weight of the task before us, to say the least. We wanted to point it out to you as a motivator to pray for David and the missionaries of the IMB. Not only is the IMB an important organization with worldwide and eternal impact, but David’s appointment comes at an important time in the course of Christian missions.
Join John Piper in praying that this transition “will have a global, God-glorifying, mission-completeing impact of historic scope, all out of proportion to [Platt’s] limitations. May it be, indeed, an end-time move of the Spirit to hasten the Day of God.”
When we think of mission work, our minds may most naturally go to the African bush, the Indian slums, or the Arabian deserts. We probably don’t think of Tokyo high rises.
At less than one percent evangelical Christian, Japan’s 120 million natives make up the second largest unreached people group in the world. Don’t be fooled by the neon lights illuminating the bustling streets – Japan is a dark country. Some have even dubbed it “the missionary’s graveyard,” not because violent persecution is common there, but because ministry burnout is. In Japan, after spinning their wheels for years, many missionaries find themselves stopped dead in their tracks.
One reason that ministry there has been so difficult is its material excess. Contrary to the hunger, sickness, and poverty that so often opens doors for ministry in developing nations, Japan seems to have it all. Blinded by worldly ambition and distracted by excessive busyness, the Japanese obliviously wander on, “like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).
At the same time, they may soon be ripe for a huge harvest. Their immense spiritual need is starting to come to a head as they work themselves to death (literally – they call it karōshi), fight a losing battle with depression and suicide, tragically give themselves to sex trafficking, and realize that their advanced technology and infrastructure is no match for nuclear disasters, typhoons, and earthquakes.
Pray for the Japanese. Pray for the worn out missionaries among them. Pray for a massive harvest. And pray for more laborers to go to this forgotten field.
Posted on October 1st, 2014 by Jonathan
From Open Doors, may this serve as a healthy reminder that church bombings and Boko Haram kidnappings should not be viewed simply as intriguing headlines. They are real trials faced by real Christians just like you and me.
The International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for persecuted Christians is coming up, and Open Doors is hosting a free, interactive webcast. If you want to join in on November 1 and 2, RSVP here. But don’t wait to begin praying for the persecuted church. Let the stories from Nigeria remind you that, in many places around the world, hostility toward believers is real. And it’s happening now.
Posted on September 12th, 2014 by David Burnette
Kevin DeYoung posted the following prayer by Samuel M. Zwemer (1867-1952), an RCA minister and Princeton professor known as “The Apostle to Islam”:
“Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, who hast made of one blood all nations and hast promised that many shall come from the East and sit down with Abraham in thy kingdom: We pray for thy prodigal children in Muslim lands who are still afar off, that they may be brought nigh by the blood of Christ. Look upon them in pity, because they are ignorant of thy truth.
Take away pride of intellect and blindness of heart, and reveal to them the surpassing beauty and power of thy Son Jesus Christ. Convince them of their sin in rejecting the atonement of the only Savior. Give moral courage to those who love thee, that they may boldly confess thy name.
Hasten the day of religious freedom in Turkey, Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and North Africa. Send forth reapers where the harvest is ripe, and faithful plowmen to break furrows in lands still neglected. May the tribes of Africa and Malaysia not fall prey to Islam but be won for Christ. Bless the ministry of healing in every hospital, and the ministry of love at every church and mission. May all Muslim children in mission schools be led to Christ and accept him as their personal Savior.
Strengthen converts, restore backsliders, and give all those who labor among Muslims the tenderness of Christ, so that bruised reeds may become pillars of his church, and smoking flaxwicks burning and shining lights. Make bare thine arm, O God, and show thy power. All our expectation is from thee.
Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son in the Muslim world, and fulfill through him the prayer of Abraham thy friend, “O, that Ishmael might live before thee.” For Jesus’ sake. Amen.”
— Taken from Islam and the Cross: Selections from “The Apostle to Islam” (edited by Roger Greenway).
Posted on September 8th, 2014 by Jonathan
ISIS overrunning Iraq and Syria. Church buildings razed in China. Boko Haram bombings and kidnappings in Nigeria. Labor camps in North Korea. Imprisoned Christians in Iran. The persecution of Christians is on a tragic rise, but it is not a new phenomenon. In fact, each Fall, the International Day of Prayer has highlighted persecuted Christians, encouraging churches to pray for them as well as for their persecutors. Such prayer has always been important, but as this year’s headlines makes clear, the need for such prayer has never been more urgent.
In light of this, Open Doors is hosting a live webcast on November 1 and 2 to inform and encourage people toward this end. Special guests include David Platt and Nik Ripken, and worship will be led by Selah. The first night (Saturday, Nov 1) will give you the opportunity to interact with believers from all over the world. The second night (Sunday, Nov 2), there will be a time of worship geared toward churches. Such a webcast allows for the persecuted to hear directly from the people praying for them (and vice versa) as they worship their God together . . . and Open Doors is making the event completely free.
You won’t want to miss this. RSVP here so that you can have all the info you need participate and even get your church involved. But go ahead and begin praying for the persecuted. Open Doors has suggested five ways for you to get involved in the International Day of Prayer, and this is just one of them!
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