In the countries where it’s most difficult to live as a Christian, the prayers of the global church are vital, true life lines, to our persecuted brothers and sisters. In the West, churches can mobilize prayer warriors to come alongside our family in places like India, North Korea, Nigeria, China and beyond. The annual Day of Prayer is one way to follow Jesus’ command to strengthen the Church. To help you do this, our team has created free resources for churches. We’re also sharing proven ideas from churches across the United States to help you engage your church. During a recent webinar, church leaders told us about what they have done to engage their church outside the worship service, during the service and even year-round. Their ideas are too great not to share!
Outside the worship service
- Invite Sunday school classes to come early and spend some time in prayer for the persecuted church before class begins. Then use the class time to look at persecution in the Bible and what’s happening today to believers all over the world.
- Don’t limit your focus to adults. Make sure your youth groups know what’s happening in their world. Many countries, such as Pakistan, Iran and Egypt, are targeting young people who follow Jesus.
- Don’t forget the kids. Share the story of a persecuted child (such as Maryam) and ask the class to pray for them. One church told us they give children a picture of the child they’re praying for. with prayer points printed on the back. They encourage kids to keep the photo next to their beds for nighttime prayers.
- Have kids in Sunday school write cards of encouragement to persecuted Christians. You can find letter-writing opportunities here.
- On the Day of Prayer or another day you choose, set up tables, each one focusing on a particular country on the World Watch List. Then ask each table to pray for the country they represent during the worship service.
- Host a Sunday night underground church service. Lower the lights or use candlelight, speak quietly, asking everyone to speak in whispers. Think about the environment persecuted Christians must worship in to avoid being fined or arrested.
- Host an event highlighting the persecuted church as you do something else (such as pack meals for kids on the weekend). Run an Open Doors video, include an area to write letters to persecuted Christians and highlight the top World Watch List countries with prayer resources from Open Doors.
During the worship service
- During your church’s offering time, share an Open Doors’ IDOP video featuring the testimony of a persecuted Christian.
- Involve your missionaries. Connect with the missionaries your church supports who work in World Watch List countries. Ask them to share what they’re up against and pray for them specifically.
- Make it an event. Host a few persecuted believers who will tell their stories. Show videos and end with a time of prayer for these believers.
- Highlight the Day of Prayer in the announcements along with handing out bulletin inserts that shares ways to pray with our persecuted brothers and sisters.
- Show one of Open Doors’ testimonial videos and then pray specifically for the person who’s highlighted and their country. (This year, we’re telling Pastor Rohan’s story in India.)
- Pass out plastic barbed wire bracelets (available from Open Doors).
- Dedicate a whole service to the Day of Prayer. Use videos, slides, sermon outlines, bulletin inserts, etc. Ask five families to come forward and pray, each praying for a different country. One church told us they feature displays on various countries. About 10-12 families create three-panel pasteboards that are displayed throughout the month. Another church hangs banners representing the different countries they’re praying for.
- If you’re leading a group or committee focusing on prayer for persecuted believers, put your vision and plan in writing. Create a document that includes the theology of persecution and martyrdom and a proposed plan for bi-weekly meetings.
- Use the Day of Prayer as a kick off to your church’s focus on the persecuted church for the next year.
- Include articles focusing on the persecuted church in your church’s newsletter or magazine. You can find numerous articles on the Open Doors website.
- Scan and Include a country profile and prayer points from Open Doors’ World Watch List booklet in your church bulletin.
- Encourage your small group leaders to Initiate a prayer time during their weekly meetings. One church uses GroupMe to organize prayer points for prayer groups across their various church sites.
- Hold a special prayer service for the persecuted every month. One church we know has theirs on the third Sunday of each month.
- Set up a permanent prayer table in your church’s lobby and highlight one of the 50 World Watch List countries each week. One church shows a video over the table, as well.
- Invite other churches. One church leader told us that she’s part of a multi-church prayer group that meets specifically to pray for persecuted believers.
- Vision starts at the top. As a leader, your passion for the persecuted church speaks volumes. In your prayers (both personal and with the Body), be intentional about remembering our brothers and sisters. Encourage prayer for our persecuted family in Sunday school classes, small groups, youth groups, etc.