4 Ways to Pray on International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted
This Sunday marks the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted, a time to remember the Christians who are experiencing the threat of danger for their faith in Christ. Praying for the persecuted can feel like a daunting task when the situations facing Christians around the world seem very complex. Even so, prayer is one of the most powerful tools with which we can support the persecuted church, including those whose names we will never know — and it does not need to be complicated.
Here are four areas where your prayers can be directed on the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted and in the coming weeks and months.
1. Pray for Armenian Christians remaining in Nagorno-Karabakh and those who have already fled.
Azerbaijan launched a lightning offensive into Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave populated by Armenian Christians, on September 19, killing at least 200 people. Within one week, over 100,000 Armenian Christians fled the region following the attack. For 10 months preceding the assault, Azerbaijan had been severely restricting the borders of the region, preventing Armenian Christians from receiving medical care and medicine, food, fuel, and aid as Azerbaijan erratically fired across borders.
Although most of the Armenians who lived in the region have escaped, there is still a small population in Nagorno-Karabakh. These Christians are defenseless and need our earnest prayers for their safety. Prayer is also needed for the 100,000 displaced ethnic Armenians. Given the speed and size of the evacuation, Armenia cannot handle the overwhelming need of the refugees who are suffering from malnutrition and other health emergencies. The Armenian government needs prayer for wisdom on how to treat these needs and facilitate the establishment of immigrants.
2. Pray for Christian North Korean defectors.
To escape the horrors of their country — which is the most closed and oppressed country in the world today — some brave North Koreans flee across the Chinese border. While there, many North Korean defectors come into contact with Chinese or South Korean missionaries and churches that lie along the border who help North Korean defectors. This is often a North Korean’s first encounter with Christianity. Sadly, learning about the gospel makes the possibility of forced repatriation back to North Korea all the more dangerous, because being a Christian in North Korea can mean a death sentence.
There are reports that China has been detaining an estimated 2,000 North Koreans and sending upwards of 600 defectors back to North Korea. There is evidence that before repatriating defectors, China interrogates them for evidence of any religious activity and then informs North Korean authorities. North Korea already does not deal kindly with defectors, often putting them in labor camps or other punishments for their perceived treachery, but North Korea is even more intolerant towards religiosity. Christian North Koreans are at a high risk of being executed or put into prison camps for a life-long sentence.
Pray for the safety of North Korean defectors: for their evasion of Chinese authorities, for the Chinese government to change their policy of forced repatriation, and ultimately for freedom in North Korea.
3. Pray for Christians in Pakistan who are at risk of targeted violence.
Christians in Pakistan are currently experiencing a higher risk of targeted violence amidst a surge of mob attacks. Most recently, over a dozen churches and upwards of 50 Christian homes were looted and burned to the ground in Jaranwala, Pakistan. The mob of almost 600 people was reportedly incited by accusations that a Pakistani Christian desecrated the Quran. Christians had to flee their homes and hide in fields and nearby villages to escape the angry horde.
Violence against Christians in Pakistan is often fueled by blasphemy laws that enforce severe punishments for insulting Islam. These laws foster an environment where false accusations lead not only to wrongful imprisonment, but they foment mob violence against Christians and others. Pray for the safety of Christians in Jaranwala and throughout all of Pakistan, and for wisdom for church leaders during this turbulent time. Pray that the hearts of Pakistan’s leaders will soften towards the Christian population and that unjust laws will be overturned.
4. Pray for the Western countries as intolerance towards Christians rises.
In the last few years, Christians have experienced heightened hostility in Western countries. One way Christians in the United Kingdom have been harassed is through government-established buffer zones around abortion facilities that censor the speech and actions of individuals, including prohibiting prayer in these areas. Isabel Vaughan-Spruce was a victim of one such policy, having been arrested twice for suspected silent prayers and prohibited from any future public prayer.
Not only do governments seem to have greater intolerance towards Christianity, but the number of incidents of vandalism, arson, and violence against churches has risen in the last few years. Between January 2018 and September 2022, at least 420 acts of hostility against churches occurred in the United States. Between January and March of 2023, there were another 69 incidents. The rise of attacks against churches shows a lack of respect towards churches and the Christian beliefs that are associated with them. Pray for your communities and local churches, for their protection as well as for effective outreach to those in your community that feel bitter towards the church. Also, pray for the governments of Western countries that are targeting Christians, and that Christians will continue to have the courage to stand up for their beliefs.
Christians around the world need our prayers. Prayer is not only a source of encouragement, but it has the power to bring about real change. On this International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted, please join us in remembering the persecuted in your prayers.
For additional ideas on how to pray for persecuted Christians, check out FRC’s 30 Day Prayer Guide for the Persecuted.
Abigail Ferrara is the research assistant for the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council.
Arielle Del Turco is Director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council, and co-author of "Heroic Faith: Hope Amid Global Persecution.