A costly choice—10 prayers for Christians following Jesus in a Muslim nation

September 4, 2021 by Lindy Lowry in Africa

For Abir*, a Christian in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, decisions about his faith have become life-altering. Abbas’ family members and society are out to punish him for abandoning his Islamic faith. Leaving Islam—the religion of his family, tribe and nation—to follow Jesus is a dangerous and costly decision.

Former Muslims  like Abir and their families can face isolation and shame, leading to financial hardship, physical injuries and even death. In areas where extremist groups run rampant, Christians, especially converts from Islam, can be singled out for their faith and attacked. In other areas such as Iran and Central Asia, the government is the main driver of persecution. When officials or secret police discover believers’ places of gathering and worship, they often destroy any means of coming together to be the church and, in turn, prevent the encouragement that comes from worshiping with a body of believers of one mind and heart.

Understandably, the emotions that Christian converts often share with us are difficult: weary, burdened, mad, sorrowful, lonely.

Based on their stories and the challenges they share, we offer 10 specific prayers for these believers you can bring to the Father as you pray for our persecuted family across the globe.

Praying for converts from Islam:

1.   Pray for converts facing excommunication, abandonment and shame from their family. What would it be like to be abandoned, even abused and assaulted, by your family members? Often, immediate relatives of converts are their greatest source of persecution because leaving Islam brings shame to their entire family. In some families, this kind of persecution might lead to being ignored or excluded; in stricter, hardline Islamic families, conversion can lead to divorce or even death.

“Who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:30).

2.   Pray for converts who have lost their friends and community. Repeatedly, we hear from believers who say they have no friends anymore because of their decision to follow Christ. A whole community may turn on a believer, putting pressure on convert and their family to renounce their newfound faith. In rural areas of Iran, for example, Christians from a Muslim background are considered “unclean.” This treatment and brand of oppression cause most converts to keep their faith in Christ a secret.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (Romans 8:35).

3.    Pray for converts who have nowhere to gather for worship and experience fellowship. In the Middle East and North Africa, believers have hardly any places to publicly gather and worship as a church body. In Algeria, the government has closed 15-plus churches and has plans to close more—part of the systemic persecution Algerian believers have seen in the last two years. In Iran, the growing house church movement continues to gain the attention of governments in these regions, fueling raids on churches in an attempt to keep believers in isolation.

“For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them” (Matt. 18:20).

4.    Pray for converts who have fled their homeland for safety and now live as refugees. When situations become life-threatening, especially for Christian converts, believers often flee the country. At times, escape and migration are the only options.

“And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17).

5.    Pray for converts who may be killed for their faith—that they can remain a faithful witness throughout their lives. Islamic extremists believe and uphold that anyone and everyone who leaves Islam is an apostate and should be killed or enslaved. Any “apostate” (anyone who abandons their faith) from Islam is, according to Islam’s hardline Shariah Law, punishable by death if the accused does not recant. Muslim extremists justify this treatment based on the words of their prophet Mohammed: “Whoever changes his religion, kill him.”

“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” (Rev. 12:11).

6.    Pray that converts would seek out and find discipleship. Often, believers are forced into isolation because the discovery of their faith will lead to excommunication, displacement, fines, arrest, prison and even death. They aren’t sure who to trust. Pray that Christians will find other believers they can trust to disciple them; and that they, in turn, would seek out others to disciple. In regions of extreme persecution, discipleship is critical.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).

7.    Pray that converts would store up God’s Word in their heart and read/remember it whenever possible. Owning any Christian materials, including a Bible, is strictly prohibited in many countries on Open Doors’ World Watch List ranking the 50 most dangerous countries for Christians. Believers imprisoned for their faith in Iran have shared that they would get their hands on only very small portions of God’s Word at a time and hold it dearly in their hearts and minds as they memorized it. Pray for God’s Word to safely get into their converts’ as quickly and as often as possible.

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

8.    Pray for the hearts of converts, that they would increase in their passion to love others and share the gospel. One of the main persecution strategies of Islamic extremist groups, like Islamic State group and Boko Haram, is instilling fear in believers. Pray that God would give them strength and confidence and boldness to share their testimony

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

9.    Pray for converts in regions where Islamic extremism threatens. Whether in Egypt (Islamic State), Afghanistan (Taliban and ISIS-K) or Kenya (al-Shabaab), extremism is one of the most violent, even deadly, threats to Christianity around the world today. Believers living in these regions and many others face extreme trials and brutality.

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16).

10.   Pray for converts to remain steadfast and unwavering in their faith. Above all else, we pray for believers to persevere. We celebrate conversions like Abbas’ in Egypt. Luke 5:10 tells us that when even just one sinner repents, “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God.” The difficult reality, though, is that just like new believers here in the United States, the roots don’t might not go deep in some new believers. When trials become too much to bear, sometimes they waver and even deny their faith. Through prayer, we show compassion and also pray fervently for believers to be preserved in the gospel, increasing in unshakeable faith for His glory.

Being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy” (Col. 1:11).

* name changed for security

photo: IMB.org

Share Your Comment

Related Stories