PRAYING THE BEATITUDES, PART 9
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
E.M. Bounds once said, “God’s highest aim in dealing with His people is in developing Christian character…begetting in us those rich virtues which belong to our Lord Jesus Christ…not so much work that he wants in us…not greatness. It is the presence in us of patience, meekness, submission to the divine will, prayerfulness. And trouble in some form tends to do this very thing, for this is the end and aim of trouble.”
O that irritation we call trouble. And O when that trouble is in the form of persecution. We in the West know little of it, really, but our brothers and sisters around the world know plenty. The persecuted church is in agony right now.
In India, Hindu extremists target Christians with false accusations, beatings, rapes and murders. Manini is recovering from a brutal attack and sharing her testimony with new believers.
In Laos, Hmong believers are being forced out of their villages and face discrimination in jobs and education. Chan spent thirteen years in prison for his involvement in a house church.
In Nigeria, Boko Haram terrorists are burning church buildings and killing Christians by the hundreds. Monica is awaiting surgery to repair injuries from a machete attack.
In Colombia, FARC guerillas are increasing violence against Christians. Children Marcela, Jeffrey and Lyda were left orphaned when their parents were killed for running a Christian school for local children.
And in Eritrea raids on churches result in arrests, beatings and incarcerations. More than two thousand of our brothers and sisters are imprisoned, many in shipping containers.
These, declares Jesus, are blessed, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Theirs is eternal reward and comfort. Theirs is heavenly glory. The apostle Paul, who knew something of persecution, expands on the experience by saying, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (II Cor. 4:17,18).
Seeing persecution through eyes fixed on the unseen brings perspective into view. Prayer is the implement most suited to this task. When forces of evil target the body of believers, only the prayer of faith can see blessing. Perhaps this is that to which Jesus refers when he concludes His ‘Lord’s Prayer’ with the petition “deliver us from the evil one”. Satan is at the nucleus of any attempt to destroy the body of Christ. While physical persecution is a tool, the evil one really wants to destroy souls. Praying for deliverance must not be superficial. We must pray not only for physical relief but also for spiritual strength. The persecuted need prayer to maintain courage, faithfulness, forgiveness and inner peace.
Until God calls us to experience persecution, we have a task. We must lift up in prayer our brothers and sisters of the persecuted church. Sharing in the trouble will allow us to share in the blessing.
(For more information on praying for the persecuted church, visit The Voice of the Martyrs at http://www.persecution.net/)