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(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