What a privilege – and what a responsibility – to pray for persecuted Christians around the world! Today, day 11 of ‘31 Days of Prayer‘, we’re taking a break from the series. Instead of reflecting on prayer, here’s a prayer you can use to pray for persecuted Christians in northern Iraq. (I’ve used ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ throughout most of this prayer to give some sense of the way we can stand together in prayer for those in desperate need.)
Gracious heavenly Father, thank you for the privilege of prayer, and for the way in which it allows us to uphold and care for our brothers and sisters around the world. Thank you that we can pray for persecuted Christians around the world in their time of need.
We pray for all persecuted Christians around the world today, but especially for those believers in Iraq suffering at the hands of ISIS. Please protect them. Please watch over them and keep them safe. Please provide them with whatever they need during this hour of need – including food, water, medical care, blankets and mattresses, and safe refuge. We pray that no more lives will be lost, especially among innocent children.
In their time of desperate need, please draw near to your people and remind them of your sovereignty and your love. Please strengthen them with courage so that they will continue to confess the name of Jesus. Please look kindly and mercifully on any who deny Jesus under this intense pressure. Please restore and forgive them, just as you did for the apostle Peter.
Thank you that your word warns us of the reality of persecution. Thank you that some people are even ‘counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name’ of the risen Jesus (Acts 5:41), and please help persecuted Christians to remember this. Please help all your people to remember the words of Jesus: “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20) Please fill the hearts and minds of persecuted Christians with the incredible promise that Jesus gave: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…” (Matt 5:11-12) Please help them to remember that the victory is yours, so they can endure (Rev 13:10).
Father, thank you that Jesus taught us to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us. We pray for the members of ISIS. Please restrain them, and take away their opportunity to do evil. Please bring them to justice, and raise up authorities who will act to stop them. We also pray for the individual members of this group. Please show your mercy and grace to many of them, and save them. Please convict them of the terrible evil that they are doing. Please open their eyes and challenge them through the unwavering witness of your people. Please soften their hearts, bring them to trust in the Lord Jesus, and forgive them – just as you did for the apostle Paul even when he was persecuting your people.
We pray that you will work through the Iraqi government, and that they will act to protect needy people within their country. We pray that they will govern in such a way that your people may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (1 Tim 2:2). We thank you that this issue has been raised in the international community, and we pray that there will be action from those entrusted with power and opportunity to help. I pray that my own nation will do whatever it can to help those who are most vulnerable.
Father, please forgive me for the times when I am ashamed of the name of the Lord Jesus. Please strengthen me to be more courageous in standing up for Jesus. Please help me to learn from the witness of my brothers and sisters who are suffering so much. As well as praying, please help me to see what else I can do to help and support them.
Lord Jesus, thank you for your promise: “Yes, I am coming soon.” (Rev 22:20) Come, Lord Jesus!