Christians urged to pray for persecuted believers during international day of prayer

A religious cross is captured through some ornamental railings in the Fort Kochi area in the state of Kerala in South India.
A religious cross is captured through some ornamental railings in the Fort Kochi area in the state of Kerala in South India. | Getty Images

Christians will congregate worldwide in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Christ who face persecution and even death for their faith this Sunday and next Sunday in observance of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. 

The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church has been organized by The World Evangelical Alliance for more than two decades, with many other faith-based organizations encouraging participation. 

According to Open Doors, a watchdog that monitors persecution in over 60 countries, over 360 million Christians live in countries where they experience some kind of hostility as a result of proclaiming the name of Jesus or living out their faith.

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In its annual World Watch List report, Open Doors reported that over 5,621 Christians were killed for their faith in the 2022 reporting period, 90% of which occurred in Nigeria alone.

Many Christian advocacy organizations, such as Open Doors U.S. and The Voice of the Martyrs, have offered free resources, such as discussion questions and prayer guides, to help churches or small groups host a gathering for the IDOP.

Ryan Brown, CEO of Open Doors U.S., emphasized in an interview with The Christian Post the role that prayer plays in the organization’s mission to combat the global persecution of Christ-followers. He said regardless of the enormity of a problem, prayer reminds Christians of God’s power. 

“It allows us to align ourselves to the hearts of the Father who, as much care and as much passion as we may have for serving the persecuted church, it pales in comparison to Christ’s heart for His bride,” Brown said. 

Brown said the IDOP is also an opportunity for Christians globally to uplift their persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ by proving there are thousands, if not millions, of people thinking about them. 

The new Open Doors U.S. CEO highlighted concerns that the West is continuing to delve deeper into a “post-Christian” culture, as it can be easy for those not living under persecution to become consumed with the business of their daily lives.

The Christians facing discrimination for their faith, Brown contended, serve as an example to Westerners of refusing to limit their faith despite the culture they inhabit. 

There have also been persistent trends in Christian persecution, according to Brown, citing the findings of his group’s annual World Watch List as another reason for Christ-followers to immerse themselves in prayer. 

According to a brief on the Open Doors website, North Korea holds the top spot for Christian persecution, but Brown noted that countries like China have used intimidation and government power to oppress people of faith.  

Brown said in other countries, such as Nigeria, Christians are often subjected to violence. Estimates released earlier this year International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law found that at least 5,000 Christians were killed in Nigeria in 2022, and at least 1,000 were killed within the first three months of 2023.

Regarding the IDOP, Open Doors is offering resources for churches participating in the event to share with their congregations, including guides for planning a prayer meeting and sermon notes to help facilitate discussions. 

As a result of the IDOP, Brown hopes to see people consistently dedicate more time to thinking about their persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. 

“The goal is not that this necessarily becomes a once-a-day, once-a-year activity, but that this becomes a springboard into something that impacts us on a regular basis,” he said.

On its website, WEA also offers a variety of resources, including videos and graphics. 

“[A]s we gather in prayer for our persecuted brethren, we find hope and strength in the Scriptures,” WEA states about the event, quoting 2 Corinthians 4:10. “This powerful biblical text reminds us that though persecution may strike believers down, it does not destroy their faith.” 

“The resilience and unwavering trust in God displayed by our persecuted brothers and sisters serve as a testament to the enduring power of Christ in their lives,” it continues. 

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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