The church is going through trials and exposure in how it is failing in taking care of its sheep, cracks are becoming apparent, and one could think, “Can the church still stand after receiving so many blows?” The simple answer is yes. Nothing is new under the sun, for years the church has experienced persecution but also where sheep have gone astray and there has been strife amongst members. Yet the gospel message still prevailed, God still empowered people to live for Him through His Spirit and most importantly, Christians would unite to pray together. My question for you is, do you pray for the church? For your leaders? Each and every member of the body of Christ needs covering for we do not fight against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6).
Devote yourself to prayer
In Colossians 4:2 it says “devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful,” the devil is tenaciously looking for a foothold, an opportunity to dismantle the body of Christ and create division. With news about misconduct within the church such as child abuse, adultery amongst pastors and worship leaders or manipulation of church members to receive more tithes for personal gain- it can be discouraging. Yet it is important for us to remember that as human beings “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus,” (Romans 3:23-24). So when the Bible says to walk habitually in the Spirit, scriptures such as 1 Peter 5:2-3 and 1 Timothy 2:1-4 are useful in regards to interceding on behalf of people; but they also give direction on being a good steward of the position you carry within a church.
Praying for the church to stand in the midst of adversity
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”John 15:18-19
Outside of misconduct within the church, there are people who wish for the demise of the Church. That may sound hard hitting but sadly this is true. Whether that is other faith groups or politicians, not everyone is open the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the great commission. Only recently we experienced the COVID pandemic which initially meant church buildings were closed and the congregation was separated. Yet we proved that although the church building was shut, the church was VERY much still alive and active. Going forward there may be new government rules/laws which could test and challenge our faith as Christians in the area of education, healthcare and business yet in this we must remain firm.
Let us remember…
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Pray for the persecuted church: The body of Christ worldwide
Worldwide Christians are killed because of their faith, places of worship are attacked and our fellow brothers and sisters in faith are unjustly arrested or imprisoned some even abducted; yet their faith in Jesus remains even to the point of death.
Christian Freedom International and Open Doors are examples of organisations in the UK who help persecuted Christians. Their work in helping these Christians has involved:
- training Christians and church leaders to support them through the trauma they may have suffered
- providing advice and support to Christians who have been victims of disaster
- speaking on behalf of Christians to help raise awareness of the situation they are in
Below are a few prayer points for the persecuted church you can include during your prayer time:
- Pray for justice to prevail and that Christians would be granted freedom to worship without persecution.
- Pray for Christians in Kaduna Nigeria, who experience unfair treatment.
- Pray for Christians in China who are constantly under surveillance in church, and crosses and other Christian imagery have been replaced with pictures of President Xi Jinping and national flags.
- Pray for Christians in India who are attacked and harassed for their faith and foreign funding of Christian-run hospitals, schools and church organisations has been blocked.
These are just a few examples of martyrdom all around the world for the sake of Jesus Christ, as a body let us pray for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that God will infuse them with courage and transcendent peace in these challenging times. Most importantly, that they would keep eternity in mind, where they will be able to live forever in the presence of their heavenly Father. Let us also pray for people within our church and leaders, that we would be Christians who live a life worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1).