Prayer, Persecution, and Promises

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“Why? Why is this happening?”

I feel like this is a question that has been asked by every single person that has ever been a person. On Tuesday night we asked it again as we heard stories of Christian persecution in Jerusalem in Jesus’ day and in Iraq today. Persecution feels so far from us, worlds away. But we are reminded that people like us who believe the same thing we do are paying for their faith and trust in Jesus with their life, the lives of their children, the lives of their families. The “Why” question floats through my head again, over and over. Is it simply because of where they live? Why do they have to die for what we believe while we only hear about it? And the biggest question, What is God doing? Where is He when this is going on? I think at a foundational level this would make absolutely no sense if I didn’t know God’s game plan. The absolute highlight of history was when Jesus, God’s Son, was dragged out of a garden and thrown in front of judge, jury, and executioner. The next morning He was marched up a hill to die naked on a tree while everyone who trusted him either stood there powerless or headed for the hills.

God made the death of Jesus the defining and most powerful moment in human history.

We need to be reminded, almost constantly, that God’s plan is for the long haul, and it goes past this life that we see on the earth. The more we struggle with the understanding that there is life after death the more we are going to struggle with the idea of persecution.

So what now? What can we do right here, for our Christian family over there? I’m convinced that the reason we don’t pray more is because we don’t really believe that God is using our prayers. When we pray for persecuted Christians in Iraq we are effectively acting on the belief that the transcendent God is hearing the words we speak and answering them in power to change the circumstances across the world. What really helped me understand the power and reality of prayer was by sponsoring a child in another country. By giving $35 dollars a month God is allowing me to completely change the life of another person on the other side of the world. I don’t always think about it but this child’s life is and will be completely and irrevocably changed by my small gift to her family. God promises us the same thing when we pray to Him. Jesus teaches in Mark 11:24, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

So pray big. Pray often. And keep praying, because we serve a big God that loves to work through the prayers of His people.

For His Glory,

Nikolay Stockman

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