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“Don’t pray for us…”

An Excerpt from ‘Prayer: The Real Battle’ by Brother Andrew

A few years ago an Open Doors worker attended a large prayer meeting in Cairo. Each Monday at one of the main Protestant churches in the city, more than eight hundred people, mostly young adults, gathered in the evening for three hours of prayer. Their primary request was for the nation to come to Christ. They were praying that millions of Muslims in Egypt would meet Jesus. This wasn’t the only prayer meeting in Egypt – there were, and still are, many like it all over the country.

In the course of the service, one of the participants read loudly from the prophet Isaiah: “So the Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians, and in that day they will acknowledge the Lord. They will worship with sacrifices and grain offerings; they will make vows to the Lord and keep them.”
Isaiah 19:21

Passionately the believers poured out their hearts: “God come and heal Egypt as you promised!”

Later, this Open Doors worker had a conversation with the pastor who helped organise these meetings. Based on the promises of Isaiah 19, this pastor said, “We’re praying for a real awakening. We believe God wants to pour out His Holy Spirit over this nation… We need to love Muslims and see them loved by Christ… Christ is revealing Himself in visions and dreams. We see Muslims coming to us, asking us questions because of the visions.”

Believers at a church service in the south of Egypt.

In the course of the discussion, the Open Doors worker asked the pastor how Western Christians could pray for their brothers and sisters in Egypt. The pastor responded by saying:

“Please don’t pray for us. Please pray with us.”

“If you pray for us, you will pray for the wrong things,”

“If you pray for us, you will pray for the wrong things,” the pastor said. “You will pray that the church will be safe. You will pray for persecution to cease. We are not praying for these things. We ask God for the salvation of Egypt. We ask that he draw millions of Muslims to Christ. We ask that we will be bold and clear in sharing our faith with Muslims. And we pray that when the inevitable persecution comes… that we will not run away, that we will be faithful in that persecution even if it costs us our lives. Will you tell your friends to pray these prayers with us?”

For many Christians this is a new way of praying.

The pastor also exhorted his congregation and us in the West to keep on praying. Referring to the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18, he said, “Jesus showed His disciples that they should always pray and not give up. Why are we coming together on Monday evenings? Our persistence means we have no other solution. Our persistence means we love our friends, and we will keep on begging for our friends – for the people of this country and the whole Arab world. God says through the prophet Isaiah, ‘I will gather all nations and tongues, and they will come and see my glory.’ Do we believe that? Let us take big prayers to the Lord. Let us be bold.”

This attitude is not unique to Egypt.

This is the heart of the persecuted church: that the Gospel will advance. Let’s pray with them, for we know this desire matches the heart of God. The apostle Peter tells us that God is not slow in keeping His promise, at least not as we understand slowness.

“He is patient . . . Not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”
2 Peter 3:9

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