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'Prayer never a cop out' as Open Doors leads International Prayer Day for persecuted church and Gaza

by Premier Journalist

The CEO of Christian charity Open Doors says the prayers of Jesus should show Christians that prayer is never a cop out when it comes to supporting Christians worldwide.

Henrietta Blyth's urged believers to support Sunday International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, dedicated to the millions of believers around the world who cannot worship freely, including brothers and sisters in Gaza.

She says believers in Gaza have contacted Open Doors saying they feel forgotten by the global church, and urging Christians around the world to seek out their individual stories and prayers. 

"They're asking us to pray that the Church will continue to be a beacon of hope, and that they themselves will be salt and light within their communities... for the comfort for people who've lost loved ones, and particularly for those the families of the hostages who don't know what's happening to them... and for the international community for wisdom for leaders so we can listen to what our persecuted brothers and sisters are experiencing." 

[You can find stories of individual Christians in Gaza via Open Doors' dedicated page here.]

Blyth also drew particular attention to Christians in India, China, North Korea, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Colombia, nations that rank at the top of Open Door's watch list for persecution. 

"They [many Christians there] share our faith, but not our freedom, they are not free to worship Jesus, as they would like to, and indeed, many of them, particularly if they've converted from other faiths experience huge opposition, from their nearest and dearest and from their families.

"Many of them are forcibly divorced, sent away from their families lose access to the children, everything. So it's really horrific what our brothers and sisters are going to go through, and we can feel so helpless."

Blyth, however, is convinced, as was Open Doors' founder Brother Andrew [van der Bijl], who smuggled Bibles beyong the Iron curtain in the mid 20th century, that "our prayers go where we cannot." She mentions two important reasons, how believers can be sure of the power of prayer.

"One is because prayer makes a difference. Jesus prayed, Jesus was the Son of God. And he prayed to strengthen us, his followers, he prayed to strengthen himself, he prayed that God's will will be done. If Jesus did it, it's important that we follow his example.

"And we pray as well. But also, for our brothers and sisters. It's a massive encouragement and strength to them to know that we stand with them. We know what's going on. We see that pain. We're standing with them, and we're praying for them. And that makes all the difference to them."

Blyth urged Christians to use the Bible as the ultimate guidance for knowing how to pray. 

"The Psalms so helpful. We weren't praying this morning for the situation in the Middle East. And we were looking at Psalm 142:  'When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you Lord, who know my way. In the path where I walk, men have hidden a snare for me. look to my right and see, no one is concerned for me, I have no refuge. No one cares for my life. I cried to you, oh, Lord, I say you are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living'. 

"The Bible gives us words, to articulate our prayers to God, and pray on behalf of our brothers and sisters.

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