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The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:16
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We invite you to join in prayer as we advance His kingdom purposes by praying for the Persecuted Church and calling out for the global harvest of souls.
(Voice of the Persecuted) Patience to PRAY ON Matthew 26:36-44 (ESV) “Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again.”
The above description of Christ with Peter, as well as “the sons of Zebedee”, more than likely James and John, who are called this in Mark 10:35. Went to a secluded place to pray, he prayed steadfastly and asked the disciples to do the same, how Jesus found the three – sleeping. Were they so tired that praying was a task for them? Do you believe the stressors they had were matched to what Jesus was enduring? (Luke 22:44). In love Jesus asked Peter “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” and a second time they were found asleep, but this time he did not say anything he went on to pray more stating the same as he did earlier, “”My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Praying not only in a secluded place, but possibly even feeling alone, knowing his three disciples were asleep, not keeping watch.
As you read this, our friend and brother in Christ, Pastor Saeed Abedini has been in an Iranian prison for over 900 days; that is 2 years and 5 ½ months in a prison. Thousands of us around the world have been praying, daily, sometimes twice a day. Many of us may be like Peter and the sons of Zebedee, with good intent motivated by our spirit, but our flesh gets in the way and we fall short of continuing to pray.
I am writing to encourage all of us to pray for Families of persecuted Christians, one of the seven points of prayer that we’ve prayed during the prayer vigils on September 26th (the date that Saeed was imprisoned). But not only for the families but for the support of those persecuted. Yes, that means for you and those who acknowledge praying for Pastor Saeed and others persecuted. Therefore, we pray another point of prayer for revival in our cities as we gather in unity to pray for the persecuted Christians. That the Lord would use this time to awaken the churches and the Body of Christ in our cities and in our countries. Pray On, do not get weary, pray and watch, and see Gods hand at work.
I encourage you to pray on, to rejuvenate your willingness, your good intent, and your patience for prayer, by stopping what you are doing now to pray specifically for Saeed’s protection, his release, and for his support. And as you pray for Saeed, replace his name with the persecuted church and pray the same for them. Pray for Naghmeh, if we grow weary of praying, keep in mind the emotions which our sister in Christ endures, and the mountain of expectations she must carry. You have heard this before, I will share it now, Galatians 6:9 (ESV) “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Do not get tired of praying, of doing well, in Gods timing we will see, don’t stop until it is complete, be watchful as Jesus told Peter. For what reason? So that we may not fall into temptation. There is a direct correlation of praying (talking to God) and temptations; if we are not praying, growing in God, what are we doing? Being stagnate in our faith? Opening doors for temptations.
Allow the following three bible verses to be a source of encouragement; strength to your personal walk and a prayer source towards all of us. Pray as you are led but use the content following the specific verses if you’d like:
• Psalm 27:14 (ESV), “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”
a. Lord, help me to be strong, to wait for you to watch and take courage in all of what is happening. I pray for my brothers and sisters for them to do the same, that we will not lose courage in you, we can be strong for one another. We ask you to remind those who are persecuted to remain strong and encouraged by the words in this verse, “Wait for the Lord” it is your timing, your will be done, not ours.”
• Philippians 4:6 (ESV), “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
a. Lord, I worry for the littlest things, I ask that your words in Philippians 4:6 penetrate my heart that I am freed from worrying, and thoughts of concern, of anxiousness arise in me that I can pray and begin to thank you for the source.
• Roman 8:25 (ESV), “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
a. Lord, we hope for so many things in you, you are our living hope. Grow our patience as we wait for your coming, provide the patience in us to show the world, You. I pray for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted that their hearts are revived in You, the living hope (1 Peter 1:3; 1 Timothy 4:10).
In closing I encourage all of us to pray, as it states in Isaiah 40:31 (ESV), “but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Let us wait, renew so that we are not weary and faint. Pray for one another, pray for the persecuted Church and pray for our brother Saeed and his family. With the hope of Christ as our motivation and the power of prayer that we have seen and heard of as our encouragement and the Word of God shared and known to all of us, allow your hearts to wait, watch, and Pray On.
by Dr. Jim Seward
Since September 26, 2012; close to 800 days; 27 months ago, American Pastor Saeed Abedini has been imprisoned. Christmas has come and gone three times, and he’s missed children’s birthdays and other family celebrations. The Boise, Idaho, resident remains imprisoned by the Iranian government on charges related to his Christian faith.
Most recently a letter was shared by Saeed describing his resting place in Rajai Shahr Prison, Iran, as cramped and cold, he states, “My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep.” A letter that continues to explain his harsh treatment in one term “cold”, sharing that guards and other inmates are hostile towards him, in unnamed ways, because of his Christianity displayed by a paper cross. Although Saeed expresses loneliness being away from family, he is comforted and secure with not being alone. Through all of his circumstances Saeed continues to love and encourages us to do the same with these words, “We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead.”
Allow me to remind you of the fifth point of prayer, out of seven, we prayed for during the prayer vigil;
- The outpouring of the Holy Spirit and Spiritual awakening in Iran. That many Muslims would come to know Jesus in Iran and the Middle East.
My friends, I propose to you that our prayers are being heard and answered. As we recap yesterday’s celebrations with photos of family and friends, our hearts are reminded of Saeed, his third Christmas without family. I am encourage to have compassion (Hebrews 10:34) for Saeed through God to continually pray for his safety and release, but a peace from God is given to know that Saeed is not forgotten, but doing the work of the Lord while in prison. And doing the work that has been laid on his heart long ago when Saeed started Saeed Ministries, Inc. Where its purpose is “to preach the whole Gospel to the whole world.” We find in Saeed Ministries their mission statement which includes,
Penetrate the dark regions of the enemy and win the lost, especially those in the Middle East region, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through Satellite TV programs, evangelistic events, and being a support to those who are ministering in-country.
As we read in Saeed’s letter, his paper cross that has become such an offense to others is actually a tool used to penetrate the darkness of the enemy in Rajai Shahr Prison. So let us be encouraged and continue to support Saeed in prayer, as he continues to steadfastly represent Christ and be a vessel for the sharing of the Gospel in the Middle East.
I encourage you to continue to pray on, asking God to comfort Saeed (2 Cor. 1:3-4), his family, and support. Asking God to give Saeed immediate peace (Eph. 2:14; Phil 4:7), and that peace/Joy of Christ (1 Chronicles 16:27; Psalm 32:11; Colossians 1:11) be as radiant as the sun in Saeed’s cold and cramped confines. Through this joy, a penetration of God will be so obvious that inmates and guards will see and ask “What must I do to be saved” (Act 16:30) and souls saved. And through this, new missionaries are assigned and the Gospel is spread throughout Iran, the Middle East, (Mark 6:7; Luke 10:1; Matthew 28:19) and Rajai Shahr Prison. Will you pray the same way?
As we pray, pray for your own and others spiritual growth, for your own mission field, we may not be in cramped and crowded confines physically, but we may be spiritually? Pray for each other, for our faith to grow (Hebrews 10:24). Use Saeed’s letter as encouragement, as he wrote, “In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain of God’s Holiness and Mercy that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness.” Remember as we draw close to God (James 4:8) God will draw close to us, and grow our faith, as it is written in 1 Corinthians 1:6-7 (ESV), “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” And in Colossians 2:19 (ESV), “and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.”
by Dr. Jim Seward
(Voice of the Persecuted) “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:12-16).
Some tell us, “There is nothing we can do about persecution, it’s predicted in the Bible.” We disagree.
And, “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. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. (John 15:18-20)
Yes, it is true, Jesus warned in advance that those who have faith in Him will see persecution. But we believe there is much we can do to help aid in their suffering and is expected of us as their family in Christ.
The topic of persecution can be overwhelming, disheartening and at times very depressing for many to hear or even consider. The Bible says we are one in the Body and special care should be given to every part. It also says, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; and if one rejoices, all rejoice with it.”
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)
“But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”(verses 18-20)
“The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (verses 21:26)
We are expected to care about each other, to encourage one another for strength and building up in faith and love. Sometimes, it is hard for many of us to know exactly how to pray for those being persecuted. Let’s take a look in the Bible for an example of an early Christian suffering persecution for his Christ-centered faith and his reaction to it.
In prison, the Apostle Paul’s dire situation and his hopeful outlook is shown in one of his four prison epistles. It was a message of joy. The word joy is repeated 16 times in the letter. Having spiritual joy and rejoicing in Christ is the main message.
Paul wrote to concerned believers “Yes, and I will continue to rejoice” (Philippians 1:18) while under house arrest in Rome. He also tells them, “for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.”(verse 19). Paul was confident in the outcome of his situation. No matter how hopeless it seemed, no matter what or how dark, God’s will shall be done.
He also had faith that the power of the Holy Spirit would see him through his predicament. Through Christ, he could face the worst and come out on top. What may happen to him in the future was not a concern for him.
Paul’s being in prison was not easy. However, that was not the issue for Paul. He learned to be content in all occasions, good and bad. He encouraged others, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”(Philippians 4:12)
Paul was uncertain of the trials before him. He then encourages the church to have hope, joy and peace. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”(Philippians 4:4-5) In essence, commanding the members to feel victorious. Suffering in prison, he tells them: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (verses 6-7).
In another letter, to the Ephesians and with little to look forward to, Paul again is in chains. But he is passionately thankful for God’s spiritual gifts. It is these gifts of joy, peace, faith and hope that got Paul through his trials. Gifts we need to sustain us in life. Paul tells us the source of these blessings. “Praise be to God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3) If Christ lives in us, these gifts have been given to us. They are indestructible because they have their source in Christ, who is always with us and our spiritual blessings are secure.
2 Thessalonians 3:2 (NASB) and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith.
Romans 15:30-31(NASB) Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints;
2 Corinthians 1:11(NASB) you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.
Philemon 1:22 (NASB) At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you.
Romans 1:10-12 (NASB) always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.
Romans 1:8 (NASB) First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.
1 Thessalonians 1:6-9 (NASB) You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to Godfrom idols to serve a living and true God,
1 Thessalonians 3:10 (NASB) as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith?
Hebrews 13:18-19 (NASB) Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things. And I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you the sooner.
I have heard some say, including Christians that there are those who long to become martyrs. For most of us, our human nature does not welcome pain, abuse and suffering. If we are willing to receive the pain that comes from persecution, it is not for the purpose of achieving a special status. It is because we are grateful for the gift of being called into the Body of Christ!
When praying for those persecuted, pray specifically for the strengthening of faith and God given gifts. “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Hebrews 13:3) Pray often as we would want our family in Christ to pray for us if we too were in the same situation.
Be blessed and encouraged, God is with us! The sufferings in life including persecution, can not be compared with God’s purpose and eternal future for each of us. The good news is we can have the strength to endure all the hard times that come into our lives. As believers, we are told that we do not face life’s problems alone, but do so with the Holy Spirit through Christ in us.
Philippians 4:13 (NASB) I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
In other words, We can endure all things through Him who strengthens us. We can overcome!
By L. Kanalos, Voice of the Persecuted