This post is written from my heart, having only walked with Jesus for a few years, I’ve learnt the importance of praying for those who hurt me and through this I’ve seen incredible things.
This year I’ve committed to be an Open Doors Youth Advocate, so I’m doing some serious praying for those Christians who cannot express their faith – but I also feel challenged to pray for the persecutors; those that are setting the laws and preventing Christians from living in true freedom.
1. God loves them
First of all, I know that despite the suffering inflicted on the persecuted that God loves the persecutors. This is such a radical idea to get my head around – but God just loves those guys as much as he loves you and me. Knowing that helps me to ground my prayers for the persecutors in love. Jesus told us to love our enemies, so my prayers for them ask that they would find real hope and love in Jesus.
2. Life without him is empty
Secondly, I’ve not been a Christian all my life and I’ve done my teenage years without Jesus. I know the the emptiness and constant need to fill the space of un-satisfaction that I felt. This led me to do some pretty stupid things. Sometimes, I see the soldiers and government officials inflicting suffering on Christians as trying to fill that same gap with violence and anger towards people’s beliefs. God filled my emptiness, so I pray that God can do the same with them. I’m asking that the Holy Spirit will speak to them and ultimately fill the dis-satisfaction that only God can fill.
Jesus told us to love our enemies, so my prayers for them ask that they would find real hope and love in Jesus.
3. God can do the impossible
Thirdly, God can change hearts. One story that illustrates this is the violent character of Saul in the New Testament. Saul was a guy intent on persecuting Christians but on the way to Damascus he had an intense vision of Jesus and with that Saul’s heart changed. He not only changed his name from Saul to Paul, but he also went on to preach and tell the people all about Jesus. I fully believe that God changes hearts daily, and he has a desire to transform the persecutor’s heart to one that is for him and not against him – just like he did with Saul.
These are just three reasons why I’m spending time praying for the persecutors. After all, God loves them, their lives aren’t full without him and he loves changing hearts. I really do believe that God is a God who can make the impossible possible, so the challenge is to consider how you can pray for the persecutors –because ultimately they need Jesus too.