Are We Praying for the Wrong Thing?

by | Mar 12, 2013 | Charisma Archive

The American church’s response to persecution indicates more than we realize

I can’t fathom what it would be like to have my family murdered in front of me, then to be beaten, shocked, starved and imprisoned for believing in Jesus. Yet we’ve all heard of believers in other countries who have encountered such horrific atrocities. Their testimonies remind us that Jesus’ promise that “you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me” still rings true 2,000 years later (Matt. 24:9, NIV). 

I’ve had the honor of meeting persecuted church leaders from places such as China, India, Iran and Indonesia, and I’ve noticed a common characteristic among them: None of them prays for God to stop the persecution. Not one. In fact, I have yet to hear a single account of a persecuted believer asking God to remove his or her oppressor. In Nigeria, when more than 2,000 Christians were killed in clashes with Muslim extremists within a few months, Open Doors USA President Carl Moeller commented that the local believers “don’t ask for us to pray that persecution would stop. They pray instead that they would be strong in the midst of persecution.”

Brother Yun, the well-known Chinese church leader, says in his book Back to Jerusalem, “I correct Western Christians who tell me: ‘I’ve been praying for years that the Communist government in China will collapse, so Christians can live in freedom.’ This is not what we pray! We never pray against our government or call down curses on it. … Instead of focusing our prayers against any political system, we pray that regardless of what happens to us, we will be pleasing to God. Don’t pray for the persecution to stop! We shouldn’t pray for a lighter load to carry, but a stronger back to endure!”

It’s easy for us in the West to romanticize the persecuted church when, in fact, it has its own issues. And God certainly doesn’t require every believer to be tortured and imprisoned just to prove his desire for Him. Yet if Christ didn’t just suggest but promise that those who follow Him would be persecuted (see Mark 13:11-13; 2 Tim. 3:12), American Christians must ask some tough questions about how we pray and what exactly we’re praying for.

I’ve attended many Christian gatherings where leaders prayed against certain political candidates, parties or social organizations. In their zeal to “defend the biblical foundation of our nation,” these believers spoke of how vital it is that Christians stand up against the attacks and stem the tide of secularism in our nation. And I totally agree. Following Jesus doesn’t mean you have to be a pacifist who yields to any cultural or political onslaught. 

But at what point do we ask ourselves if God could be using a rise in cultural hostility toward believers to refine the American church and produce fruit that will last far beyond an evangelical-friendly administration or a pro-Christian culture? Which is worse: to die while burning with the gospel’s flame in a country governed by overt Christ-haters, or to live with a smoldering wick in a “post-Christian nation” that now classifies God as just another spiritual option? Christians don’t need to become illegal in this nation for the church to become the bride Jesus is waiting for—but if that’s what it takes, would God not allow it?

Given this, we must view our ongoing cultural shifts through the lens of the Holy Spirit. How are we, as the American church, praying through this “post-Christian” era in which, yes, opposition toward us is on the rise? Are we lobbing prayer-curses at whatever opponents we can see in the natural realm, or are we correctly using the authority God gave us to pull down strongholds and principalities in the spirit realm?

God is eternally patient and loving, and He’ll use whatever means necessary—yes, even persecution—to produce a bride fit for His Son. A mature church will pray the Father’s will, not our own. When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane hours before the ultimate persecution of the cross, He didn’t pray against His accusers but asked that the Father’s divine purposes be accomplished.

We must remember this, because as our culture becomes increasingly godless, so will its intolerance of believers. Sadly, the church has grown so accustomed to being tolerated that we’ve rarely had to grapple with the “fellowship of His sufferings” (Phil. 3:10, NKJV). Jesus promised persecution. Let’s glorify Him by embracing this calling—starting with how we respond to persecution in prayer.


Marcus Yoars is the editor of Charisma. Check out his blog at marcusyoars.com or connect with him via Twitter @marcusyoars or facebook.com/marcusyoars.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

How Divine Wrestling Changes Our Identity

How Divine Wrestling Changes Our Identity

All of us at some point will hit a place of getting the wind knocked out of us. We all experience unexpected detours and times when there seems to be no way out. But there is One who lives in us, the Lord Jesus Christ, who gives us the strength to overcome obstacles....

Spirit-Filled Pastor: How Does God Lead Us Today?

Spirit-Filled Pastor: How Does God Lead Us Today?

Whether it is the Spirit leading or forbidding in the book of Acts, or the Spirit leading throughout Christian history, it’s clear that the leading of the Spirit is important. In the Old Testament, it appears that the Spirit of God could be withdrawn completely from...

Joyce Meyer: Keys to Winning Your Race in Life

Joyce Meyer: Keys to Winning Your Race in Life

Everyone has a race to run. That just means we all have a life to live. The apostle Paul says in Hebrews 12:1 (NIV), “Therefore...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for...

Prophetic Word: The Lord Says, ‘I Am the Consuming Fire’

Prophetic Word: The Lord Says, ‘I Am the Consuming Fire’

God says that during this season, He is turning up the heat, finding the gold and bringing His refining fire. Job makes a powerful statement of faith as he says of the Lord, "When he has tried me, I shall come out as gold." God knew Job's heart and Job knew the heart...

What Is ‘The One Thing’ God Wants From You?

What Is ‘The One Thing’ God Wants From You?

In 1971, I was invited to spend one month in Singapore at a new institute that had been started by John Haggai. It was still in the formative stages then—a place where Asian church leaders would be trained and challenged to witness for Christ. Today, more than 40...

37 Prayers for the Suffering Persecuted Church

37 Prayers for the Suffering Persecuted Church

It was a Pentecost bloodbath and most Christians never heard about it. More than 50 Christians were killed in one of the deadliest terror attacks on Nigerians this year. Scores of gunmen rushed in to kill Christians in the midst of worship. All told, over 360 million...

RECENT ARTICLES

Prophecy: A Window of Time Has Opened for Believers to Preach the Truth

I was rejoicing and praising God on Friday, June 24, 2022, for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, knowing that an ungodly decree was overturned and one national curse was broken. I heard by the Holy...
The Man Who Spent 23 Minutes in Hell: The People I Saw in Hell

The Man Who Spent 23 Minutes in Hell: The People I Saw in Hell

In 1998, God gave me a life-changing vision of hell. I receive many questions about my experience from people all over the world, but one question I'm often asked is, "Who did you see in hell?" There are others who say they've had an experience like mine, and they...

The United States: Birthed in Prophetic Symbolism

The United States: Birthed in Prophetic Symbolism

One of the most amazing facts about the Founding Fathers of our nation is this: The one referred to as the "voice" of the revolution (John Adams) and the one referred to as the "pen" of the revolution (Thomas Jefferson) both died on the same day—July 4, 1826—exactly...

Why Did God Give ‘This’ to Me?

Why Did God Give ‘This’ to Me?

It’s a question I frequently hear. It’s one I’ve asked. And maybe it’s one you’ve asked, too. The question is, “God, why did You give this to me?” This can be any number of issues, from emotional or psychological struggles to symptoms or sicknesses, disabilities or...

No Evil Can Stop What God Has Planned

No Evil Can Stop What God Has Planned

I sense it. And I perceive a growing number of people in massive proportions sense the increasing momentum of power and might worldwide. Something is on the horizon—something more eerie and ominous than what the people of the world have ever before experienced. Even...

Pin It on Pinterest