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The privilege of praying on International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine, Seoul, South Korea
Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine, Seoul, South Korea | Unsplash/Robby McCullough

As we participate in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on Nov. 5, I wanted to share some of the responses we received recently from our sisters and brothers around the world who risk so much to follow Jesus.

We asked them: “What are the scriptures you cling to and turn toward for strength, encouragement, courage and comfort?” Their answers reminded me of the life-giving promises our God has given to all of us in His Word.

Most of the Bible was written by, to, or about people who were experiencing persecution because of their faith.  As we read the scriptures today, these are the same words that persecuted Christians read and still cling to. They provide inspiration, hope, and meaning to Christians around the world, both now and in all times and places.

And through these same words, our sisters and brothers in Laos, Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, China, and every other place where Christians experience persecution, teach us so much about living out our own faith. Most importantly, they remind us that it is our highest privilege to be able to pray these scriptures with and for them. 

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“He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.”

These words from Psalm 91:4 (NASB) were a comfort to a believer in Laos when her husband was imprisoned for his faith. “I had great faith in the Lord to keep him safe. I was confident he would be fine because he has God in his life. I believe in God’s promise,” she said.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).

This verse was quoted by a husband and wife in Nepal who said it reminded them that when they pray, their needs are fulfilled by God. They had to leave their home with nothing but the clothes on their backs, but as they prayed in faith, claiming that verse, God gradually made provisions for them through His people.

When being imprisoned and interrogated for her faith, a believer in northern India focused on the reminder in Romans 8:38-39 that nothing could separate her from God’s love. “God’s love empowers me to face the trials and opposition,” she said.

A Ugandan Christian shared that it was the promise in Jeremiah 29:11 that helped him endure and have courage, even when suffering, because he knows God’s plans for him are not for harm, not for pain or suffering, but for joy.

Believers in both Eritrea and Myanmar, where persecution is expected, found comfort in Psalm 23:4: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.” 

Reflecting upon the truth of this psalm, Miriam*, an Eritrean believer said, “The first arrest of my husband was when we were engaged. He was suddenly picked from his house. In Eritrea, your life is always at risk. Though we are afraid, at the same time we are also living boldly. This verse assures me: Even though you are in prison, even though you are on the streets, even though you are being hunted, God is with you, wherever. And God understands what we are passing through. Jesus understands. He passed through this for us.”

Dorji Rai* from Bhutan was falsely accused and imprisoned for three months but found the strength to continue being an example in his village from the words in 1 Peter 5:3 (NLT), which reminds us to lead others to Christ by our own good example. “I am placed here because the Lord wants me to be an example,” he said. “No matter what I face, I always get encouragement knowing the Lord has me here to be a good example and to win souls for His Kingdom.”

I have noticed that so many of the verses these believers share lend themselves so well to prayers we can pray for them. From Acts 1:8, we can pray that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them. We can call on the Lord on their behalf to come quickly and hear their cry, as it says in Psalm 141. As Jesus offered in Matthew 11:28, we can pray that those who are weary and burdened will find their rest in Him. Finally, as Joshua encouraged those of his generation, we can echo his cry that those who follow Christ into dangerous situations will be strong and courageous, not afraid or discouraged, knowing that the Lord their God will be with them wherever they go.

I was so inspired by these faithful believers’ selection of scriptures which give them hope and comfort, and I am humbled that I can join them in praying these same verses back to the Lord alongside them and know that it gives them strength and courage. On this International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church — and every day — won’t you join me in lifting these our brothers and sisters to the Lord in prayer?

G. Ryan Brown is the President and CEO of Open Doors US, one of 25 national Open Doors International (ODI) bases located around the world. Founded in 1955, Open Doors has continued to serve persecuted Christians in more than 70 countries, and is known for its annual World Watch List, the ranking of the top 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution. Find resources for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church at

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