If you are fortunate to live in a country where you are free to worship as you please, it is vitally important to pray with those in countries where they are not. Notice I said to pray with them and not for them. It is a subtle, yet significant difference. Praying for someone sets up a sort of invisible boundary between you. It invokes thoughts of “us” and “them”. When we pray with someone, we identify with their situation. We place ourselves in their shoes the best that we can. It’s the difference between praying for a family member and an unknown person we have been asked to remember.
Why is this so important? We as the Church are one body. There is no such thing as “us and “them” within the church. We are all “us”. As long as we think of those across the world as being other than ourselves, we do a great disservice both to them and to the unity of the church. Its one thing to refer to another believer as a brother or sister in Christ, and quite another to actually see them as your true brother or sister; and yet that is exactly what they are.
When we think of our brothers and sisters around the world as part of our own family, their situation becomes very personal. No longer are they just nameless faces on a pamphlet or website. They are our own spiritual flesh and blood. We should desire to pray for them and fight against the injustice they are enduring. Until we make it personal, our hearts will never burn with the passion required to pray bold prayers on their behalf. Our brothers and sisters in chains around the world are counting on their family to uphold them in prayer. We must not let them down.
If your own sibling or child were in deep need, you would move heaven and earth to come to their aid. Why do we feel any differently about our fellow members in the body of Christ? We are no better because we are free and they are not. In fact it could easily be argued that we are not the truly fortunate ones. While we enjoy a life of relative ease and luxury, our faith becomes complacent. Meanwhile, despite intense hardship, persecution, and poverty, our brothers and sisters possess a faith that is alive and burning so bright that countless souls are being won to the Kingdom on their behalf.
If you grew up in church, you were probably encouraged to pray for missionaries and Christians in chains. If you’re like me you dutifully rattled off those prayers and moved on. But our brothers and sisters deserve so much more than a fleeting glance or a cursory prayer. We need to pray with them in the midst of their trials. We need to feel their pain, sense their devotion, and fervently pray for their endurance, courage, and comfort. We would want nothing less if our roles were reversed. We are all one body. Make time to remember and pray with your brothers and sisters today.