Monday, November 09, 2009

A Prayer from Those of Us Who Have it Easy, for Those of Us Who Don't ...

A reminder yesterday morning - during early service at First Prez-Midland, and at morning and evening gatherings at First Baptist-Midland - that not all Christians in this world have it anywhere near as easy as we do in matters of life and faith.

Yesterday, Christians nationwide observed International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, a reminder to offer a prayer from those of us who have it easy, for those of us who don't ... and maybe it shouldn't be a once-a-year thing, either.

(Prayer for the Persecuted Church)
Words and music by Mary Rose Jensen

"Lord, we remember the chains of Your friends
Suffering for witness to life without end.
Christ, Your sorrow brought joy and release
So, in their chains, give them peace."

"Lord, we remember the chains that now bind
Those who are tortured in body and mind.
Christ, Your rising gives hope for our plea
So, from their chains, set them free."

"God, protect and defend the accused.
Give them courage when they are abused.
Keep them faithful when tragedies fall and
Show them Your love most of all."

"Lord, we remember the chains that distress.
May Your church prosper, though under duress.
Christ, Your kingdom defeats every foe
So, by the chains may it grow.

The following was prepared by

The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) is a global day of intercession for persecuted Christians worldwide. Its primary focus is the work of intercessory prayer and citizen action on behalf of persecuted communities of the Christian faith. We also encourage prayer for the souls of the oppressors, the nations that promote persecution, and those who ignore it.

We believe that prayer changes things. Exactly what happens is a mystery of faith. God invites us to present to Him our requests and to pray without ceasing. Persecuted Christians often plead for prayer to help them endure. The most we can do is the least we can do — pray. We also encourage continuing prayer and educated involvement on behalf of persecuted Christians. Visit our partner Web sites to discover further ways to get involved.

How did the IDOP get started?

The IDOP began in 1996 through the efforts of the World Evangelical Fellowship (WEF) in cooperation with a variety of denominations and faith-based organizations. From a core group of approximately 7,000 churches, the IDOP has grown to be the largest prayer day event of its kind in the world. The IDOP is a rallying point for Christians and others to stand behind those who suffer for their faith by providing prayer support and appropriate advocacy.

In 1998, Prayer for the Persecuted Church, Inc. (PPC) took oversight of the IDOP organizing efforts in the United States while WEF continues to coordinate the IDOP internationally. PPC is an independent, nonprofit, nonpolitical organization whose primary agenda is informed and active prayer.

What are the goals of the IDOP?

The goals of the IDOP and Prayer for the Persecuted Church are to:

• Increase awareness of the persecuted Church worldwide.
• Lead in prayer on behalf of the persecuted Church.
• Promote ongoing and appropriate action on behalf of the persecuted Church.

Why doesn’t the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church pray for all persecuted people regardless of their religious, political, or social affiliation?

As a human rights issue, the persecution of Christians dwarfs all other forms of religious injustice. It is beneficial to take advocacy for fellow believers who suffer for their faith as a starting point, as Christians living in free societies have been largely unaware of or silent to this increasing tragedy. As we gain a deeper understanding of the plight of our Christian family, we can also grow in knowledge about human rights issues affecting all people. A Christian’s compassion is not reserved only for fellow Christians, but is to be given to all who suffer injustice and oppression (Luke 12:29) and to those whose dark consciences press them to perpetrate evil (Matthew 5:44). Christians are encouraged to “do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10).

What have been some results of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church?

Prayer is a mystery and difficult to measure. However, we can look at some of the changes occurring in the past and draw inferences from them.

• Over 100,000 U.S. churches, representing nearly every U.S. denomination, are estimated to have taken part in the IDOP.
• Christians in over 130 countries remembered the persecuted on the IDOP.
• Christian churches are growing in awareness of the problem and coming together in unity to pray for fellow believers.
• Christian leaders in restricted nations report that they are experiencing a new boldness in their witness to others.
• There has been increased media coverage of the problem of persecution in both secular and Christian publications. (In the U.S., such publications include The Denver Post, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Focus on the Family with Dr. James Dobson, Christianity Today, and Message of the Open Bible.)

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