Pray for the Persecuted
21st March - 27th March 2021
Each week until Easter, please join us in prayer for brothers and sisters living in the top 10 most dangerous places to be a Christian. We will focus our prayers each week on those living in different persecuted nations around the world. Across the globe, more than 340 million Christians - one in every eight believers - experience high levels of persecution, just for following Jesus.
The people of God have faced violent opposition for thousands of years. We like to think that our world has improved and that we have become more sophisticated than the violence recorded in history. Yet, today, Christians in Nigeria know what it is to wake in the morning and pray the words of Psalm 7 over their day,
O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge;
save me from all my pursuers and deliver me,
2lest like a lion they tear my soul apart,
rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.
Persecution type: Islamic oppression
Estimated number of Christians: 95,358,000
How Christians are suffering: More Christians are murdered for their faith in Nigeria than in any other country. Violent attacks by Boko Haram, and other Islamic extremist groups are common in the north and middle belt of the country, and are becoming more common farther south. Almost half of Nigerians are Christians but most of these are in the south of the country. Northern Nigeria is largely Muslim, and it’s in the north and the central region of Nigeria that most persecution of Christians happens.
In these attacks, Christians are often murdered or have their property and means of livelihood destroyed. Men and boys are particularly vulnerable to being killed, with the intention of lowering the birth rate of Christian communities and removing their sources of income. Perpetrators are seldom brought to justice. Christian women are often abducted and abused by these militant groups, and sometimes forced to marry Muslims.
Nigeria has become increasingly dangerous for Christians over the past 5 years or so. The number of Christians in prominent positions has been reduced and the police and security forces seem apparently less willing or less able to deal with attacks on Christians.
Prayer: Father, we unite our hearts together to call out to you this week for brothers and sisters who live under the constant threat of violence in Nigeria. Lord, our brothers and sisters are prey to terrorist groups and violent extremists. Father, we pray for the Government and the security forces that you would enable them to deal with this lawlessness and to seek justice. Father, we pray for your grace and comfort for believers who have been displaced from their homes, have lost loved ones, and have experienced trauma.
Lord, please be near to those who have been kidnapped and who are still being held by their captors. Please work, Lord, to release them and rescue them. Father, would you protect Nigerian Christians from this relentless persecution and comfort them in their distress. We pray that the plans of terrorist groups will be thwarted and that the government will actively intervene against extremist violence.
Lord, how long will these kinds of things happen to your people? How long will the world stand by while they are persecuted? How long will these evil people thrive? But you, Lord, are not unaware of the suffering of your people. You see every injustice and every act of violence and you hate it. You hear the cries of the oppressed and the persecuted. You protect them with your mighty hand. You will restore them; and you will maintain justice through your perfect judgement. So let your people take refuge in you and trust in your ways, for you are righteous and just, a shield for your people. Amen.
Open Doors: https://www.opendoorsuk.org/persecution/world-watch-list/nigeria/
Barnabas Fund: https://barnabasfund.org/countries/Nigeria/
If you would like to pray as a family, then Open Doors have a free World Watch List pack for children and you can set off together on a journey of prayer through the year. Each week, children can colour in a flag in the prayer passport, pray for that country and put a sticker on that country on the map. These can be ordered from https://www.opendoorsuk.org/products/product/wwl-21-childrens-pack
This post is based on a very helpful blog post by Joe Carter, editor for The Gospel Coalition, entitled "The Countries Where It’s Most Dangerous to Be a Christian in 2021"