Our persecuted brothers and sisters know they are being prayed for, and the knowledge that they are not forgotten, that they are a vital and honored part of the wider family of God, makes a difference.
My coworker at The Voice of the Martyrs, Petr Jasek, was imprisoned in Sudan for 445 days and forced to share a cell with ISIS supporters. I talked with Petr just eight days after he was released from prison and allowed to return to his native Czech Republic, and I’ll never forget one of the things he told me.
He said there were two times each week during his long imprisonment when he knew with absolute certainty that people were praying for him. One of those times was on Sunday morning — Sudan is just one hour ahead of Prague — when Petr knew that his home church was meeting for worship, likely with his wife, Wanda, in their midst.
The other time was in the early evening on Tuesday — Sudan is eight hours ahead of Oklahoma — when Petr knew that we at VOM were meeting for our weekly chapel service.
Petr told me that throughout his 14 months in prison, which included a long trial and a judge’s decision to sentence him to life in prison for espionage, he was encouraged every single Sunday and every single Tuesday by the knowledge that people were praying for him in those hours.
Petr told another story about the difference prayer made for him while he was in prison. He said that at 9 p.m. every night, when the lights went out in his cell, he was able to go right to sleep. He was not restless or distracted by the other men or the noises around him. He would just lie down and almost immediately fall into a restful sleep.
When Petr returned home, he learned the reason for his slumber. The people in his church had agreed to stop whatever they were doing every night at 8 p.m. and take time to pray for Petr. And they did that throughout his time in prison. When Petr heard about their nightly prayers, he immediately understood his peaceful sleep: 8 p.m. in Prague is 9 p.m. in Khartoum, the hour at which the lights went out and he fell into a comfortable sleep.
As your church gathers to pray for Christians imprisoned in China or Iran, or a pastor missing in Malaysia, or Christians fearing the next Boko Haram attack in Northern Nigeria, or Christians trying to decide when to announce and explain their newfound faith in Jesus to their Muslim family members, don’t take it lightly. Your prayers make a vital difference. Our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ feel and experience your prayers in very real ways.
To receive a new, specific prayer request each day throughout the year, install VOM’s Pray Today app on your smartphone or tablet.
Todd Nettleton is the host of The Voice of the Martyrs Radio (VOMRadio.net), heard each week on more than 1,000 radio stations. He has met with and interviewed hundreds of persecuted Christians in more than 20 years of service at The Voice of the Martyrs.