What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What ought I to do for Christ?
These are three crucial questions asked by St Ignatius of Loyola (1491 – 1556). If we were to ask these of ourselves it would be very much a moment of self-interrogation but also, perhaps, one of profound spirituality.
There are different levels of spirituality. Perhaps the deepest is the holiness that comes from following Christ all the way to the cross. Thomas à Kempis spelt out this spiritual challenge with ferocious directness: “Jesus has many lovers of his Kingdom but few bearers of his cross. Many desire his consolation, few his tribulation. All wish to rejoice with him, few to suffer with him. Many will follow Jesus to the breaking of the bread, few to the drinking of the Cup of his Passion.”
The three Ignation questions are really asking: Are you among the few willing to suffer with Christ? That question is something for us to consider as Sunday 6th November 2022 is International Day of Prayer (IDOP). It is is a day for believers everywhere to focus on prayer for our persecuted Christian sisters and brothers around the world. With that in mind, here are some prayer points from IDOP 2022 Resources:
Pray for all those who are imprisoned because of their faith in countries like Iran, China, Eritrea, Pakistan and North Korea: that they will know the sustaining power of God, that they will have opportunities to see their families and have fellowship with other Christians, that they will be able to share the love of Christ with their guards and fellow prisoners, and that in God’s time they will be released.
Pray for the families of Christian prisoners who often face hardship, harassment, social ostracism, and deprivation. Pray that God will provide for all their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
Pray for Christians in Pakistan who have been falsely accused and incarcerated under the notorious blasphemy laws. Pray for justice and for the laws to stop being misused against innocent people. Pray that Zafar Bhatti who has already spent 10 years behind bars will be acquitted soon.
Pray for long term Christian prisoners in Eritrea. Some like Dr Kiflu have never faced trial. Pray that he will know the love and encouragement of the Lord as he spends his 18th year separated from his family and church.
Pray for Christian pastors and church leaders who have been detained and imprisoned in China. Pray that God will protect them from harsh treatment by the prison authorities. Pray for Pastor Wang Yi and his wife and son, that their faith will remain strong and that Wang Yi’s courageous testimony will continue to encourage other pastors to keep on serving.
Pray for house church leaders in Iran who face the threat of arrest, interrogation and lengthy prison sentences for their Christian work. Pray they will continue to have courage to plant and lead local churches despite the risks. Pray that the Iranian government will recognise the value of its Christian citizens.
Pray for Christians who are detained in harsh labour camps in North Korea. Pray that they will know the freedom of Christ in their hearts and have opportunities to share the hope of the gospel with their fellow prisoners.
Pray for Release International’s partners in various countries who are serving Christian prisoners of faith and their families. Pray that channels of communication would remain secure and open. Pray that practical provisions will be able to reach those who need it most. Pray that partners who have the opportunity to visit prisoners will have the right words to bring support and comfort.
Pray that as Christians in the UK we will be moved to remember those in prison as if we were with them. May God give us compassion to learn their stories, to commit to praying for them, to write to them, and to speak up on their behalf wherever we have the opportunity.
Check out Release International for further information.