I always feel rather a fraud, glibly writing about a people who face such trials whilst I live in the relatively comfortable Western Europe. This prayer comes from my heart though.
There is a beautiful verse in Revelation 2 where Jesus addresses the church of Smyrna who are facing persecution.
Revelation 2:10 ‘Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.’
The Afghan people have every right to feel afraid. My prayer this morning though is that they will come deep into the supernatural presence of our Lord Jesus and they will be powerfully ministered to by the Holy Spirit. Perfect love drives out fear and they will be conscious of the deep and overwhelming love of God for them.
Revelation 2:10a ‘I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you...
Persecution, with all the horrors that it causes, has always brought refining to the Church.
1 Peter 1:6 ‘In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.’
And so I pray this morning that the faith of the Afghan church would be refined as pure gold and this will bring such a great reward when Christ Jesus returns.
Note also that it is the devil who was imprisoning the church in Smyrna. Jesus could see behind the scenes how the devil uses puppets to do his work.
And so we pray for the Taliban, who have fallen prey to the lies of the enemy, that the church in Afghanistan will be able to forgive them, no matter how hard that may be.
Acts 7:59 ‘While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord, receive my spirit. ” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.’
We saw this principle in the life of Corrie Ten Boom who was given the strength by God to forgive the guards no matter how much she suffered at their hands.
Then Jesus continued to the church of Smyrna:
Revelation 2:10b ‘…and you will suffer persecution for ten days.‘
Make no mistake, the persecution for the church in Smyrna would involve suffering in many different ways. However, the length of time would be determined by God and the church would surrender to the sovereign will of God.
I pray this morning that the church of Afghanistan will find the confidence and the strength to surrender to the sovereign will of God, knowing how deep and overwhelming is His love for them.
And then Jesus wrote:
Revelation 2:10c ‘”Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Such a poignant promise! The world may turn against us and persecute us to death but the crown of life will await us.
Matthew 24:9 ‘Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death and you will be hated by all nations because of me.’
The Taliban may bring death in their wake and many martyrs will fall because of their evil regime. But yet the Lord has faithfully promised that he will reward them with the crown of life.
I pray that the Afghan church will have a supernatural confidence that in Christ Jesus, they have already entered into the eternal life of Christ. Death no longer holds any sting but is simply a transition into glory.
1 Corinthians 15:55 ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?
Lord we pray, for every Afghan, man, woman and child, in the very heart of persecution, that they may know the love of God and that they will be strengthened and protected by His divine presence.
Acts 7:54 ‘When they – the Sanhedrin – heard this they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, “Look”, he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
May the people of Afghanistan know and see Jesus. This is my prayer this morning.