A post from Wayne Bushnell, lead minister:
My heart is breaking for the people of Afghanistan who are suffering under heavy oppression and violence. Men, women and children are exposed and vulnerable, unable to flee the country, and Christian Afghan believers are undergoing intense persecution and threats from the Taliban.
As we look for opportunities to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God (Micah 5:8), we pause right now to do the most important thing we can do…pray! James 5:13 says, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray.”
When we pray, God moves! Every great move of God in the book of Acts is preceded by prayer! Prayer is the most important thing, the first thing…not a last resort. Jesus began his ministry and his days with prayer, so we too must pray!
In Acts 4:24 when the believers came under persecution, “they raised their voices together in prayer to God.” We need to raise our voices together in prayer to God! Yes, we can do that by coming together in person to pray, but we can also do that by praying for the same things. I want to encourage you to pray the following prayer in a spirit of unity with other believers right now.
I’ll summarize these prayer points here, but I encourage you to read on for Scriptures and more about each item:
- For boldness.
- For miraculous intervention of those persecuted.
- For their persecutors to come to know Christ.
- For those suffering to cling to the promises of God.
- For believers to know how to share the gospel and for the Holy Spirit to give them words to say.
- For those suffering to fix their eyes on Jesus so that they will not grow weary.
- For comfort, compassion, mercy, justice and righteousness for everyone suffering.
- For those who have served, worked, protected and fought for the people of Afghanistan.
Pray for boldness!
Repeat the prayer of the believers in Acts 4:29 to speak with great boldness even as the threats increase around them. The church in Acts 4 did not pray for divine escape but for divine enablement.
Pray for miraculous intervention of those persecuted.
In Acts 12 as the believers gathered and were praying for Peter, the Lord brought him out of prison in a miraculous way.
Pray their persecutors will come to know Christ.
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44
Emily Towns with World Help says:
“When Christians stand firm in the face of persecution, it changes the way people view the Christian faith. We hear numerous stories from countries including North Korea and China where members of the military or police decide to follow Jesus after seeing a believer’s faith. They begin to wonder, ‘What is this thing that so many people are willing to die for?’
We know that we serve a God who brings beauty from ashes. He specializes in redeeming the most difficult parts of our lives and turning them into something glorious. As you think about our brothers and sisters in Christ, pray that God will use their suffering to bring others to faith — particularly those who are carrying out the persecution.”
Pray that those suffering will cling to the promises of God.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” Romans 8:35
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
“but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:33 31
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Phlippians 4:6-9
Pray believers will know how to share the gospel and the Holy Spirit will give them words to say.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” Ephesians 1:18
“for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” Luke 12:12
Pray that those suffering will fix their eyes on Jesus who endured opposition from sinful people so that they will not grow weary and lose heart!
Hebrews 11 talks about the faith that is commended by God. Many believers have suffered because of their faith. They were tortured, faced jeers, flogging, chains, imprisonment, stoning and the sword. They were destitute, mistreated, living in caves, holes in the ground just as believers are already doing in Afghanistan, and God says “the world was not worthy 0f them!”
God commends these people for their faith and encourages us to:
“Fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart!” Hebrews 12:2
Pray comfort, compassion, mercy, justice and righteousness will find its way to every person suffering injustice!
From Every Moment Holy:
O God who gathers what has been scattered
Shelter us now in the shadow of your wings.
O Christ who binds our wounds,
Be our great healer.
O Spirit who enters our every grief,
intercede now for this hurting people,
in this broken land.
Be merciful to those now wounded.
Be present with those now bereaved.
You don’t run from our brokenness, O God.
You move ever toward those in need.
Your heart is always inclined toward those who suffer
Pray and lament with those who have served, worked, protected and fought for the people of Afghanistan and are experiencing personal loss, grief, anger, frustration and confusion over the events that have transpired. Pray they would hold tightly to the Lord.