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Hezekiah's Pattern for Praying

The 2007 International Day of Prayer for the Prayer for the Persecuted Church is Sunday, November 11.

When Sennacherib the king of Assyria invaded Judea (2 Kings 18&19) he sent a letter to King Hezekiah in Jerusalem, boasting that the Assyrian army was invincible and asserting that the God of Israel was no god at all. Hezekiah took the threatening letter into the temple, 'spread it out before the Lord' and prayed: 'O Lord, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see . . . Now, O Lord our God, deliver us . . . so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God.' (2 Kings 19:15-19 NIV).

The Lord answered Hezekiah's prayer through the prophet Isaiah, assuring Hezekiah he knew of Sennacherib's belligerence, boastings and blasphemies and reminding him that God is sovereign, righteous, just and faithful. Finally God promised to defend and save the city for his own sake, and the sake of his servant David.

Today there are many 'Sennacheribs' in the world—people who rage against, repress, persecute, terrorise and threaten God's people. They are bold for the same reasons as Sennacherib—they wrongly believe they are invincible and that our God is no god at all.

Today multitudes of Christians are persecuted, besieged, terrorised and threatened. This may be due to external forces (like Sennacherib) or else by repressive dictatorship or religious intolerance or racism at a state or local level.

On the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (Sunday 11 November), the Church, united as one body with Christ as our Head, stands before the Almighty God to intercede as Hezekiah did for the persecuted, besieged, terrorised and threatened Church and for the honour, glory and praise of the Lord our God.

A Prayer for the Persecuted Church—based on Hezekiah's prayer

It is true, O Lord, that Islamic fundamentalists and militants are struggling for Islamic ascendancy and seeking the subjugation and even annihilation of the Church where they have control or exert influence. Therefore Christians living in increasingly radicalised or Islamised Muslim communities are suffering unprecedented repression, persecution and threat.

It is true, O Lord, that totalitarian religious and political dictators, threatened by the increasing openness of the age, are repressing all opposition and anything else that threatens the status quo as they fight for their survival against all odds. Therefore Christians living under such regimes are systematically harassed, intimidated, persecuted, beaten, imprisoned and killed.

It is true, O Lord, that in newly independent nations and emerging democracies religion is being increasingly exploited by the politically ambitious. Therefore Christian minorities are coming under attack from traditionalists as well as Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu nationalist militants and even neighbours incited to fear and hate them.

O Lord, while we pray for protection and deliverance, also be at work in us, purifying, sanctifying and unifying your Church.

(We suggest you print the following list of names and symbolically 'spread it out before the Lord' in your place of prayer.)

We appeal to you concerning the incitement and threats of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri along with all other national and local fundamentalist and imperialistic Islamic organisations in the world.

We appeal to you concerning the incitement of India's Hindu nationalist ideologues in the Sangh Parivar, the BJP and VHP as well as the threats and violence of the Hindu nationalist militants in the RSS and Bajrang Dal. We also present to you the militant Buddhist nationalists of Sri Lanka.

We appeal to you concerning state leaders whose political ambition, belligerence, totalitarianism, megalomania, religious intolerance or racism hurts your people: President Aleksandr Lukashenka (Belarus), Muslim President Haris Siladjzic (Bosnia), General Than Shwe (Burma/Myanmar), President Hu Jintao (China), President Fidel Castro (Cuba), President Isaias Afewerki (Eritrea), President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (Papua, Indonesia), President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the wider Iranian administration along with the Ayatollahs and Revolutionary Guards (Iran), the 'Dear Leader' Kim Jong-Il (North Korea), President Choummaly Sayasone (Laos), Colonel Moammar al-Ghadafi (Libya), President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (Maldives), Northern Nigeria's Sharia governors, the ruling royals and the religious establishment of Saudi Arabia, Islamic rebel leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys (Somalia), President Omar el-Bashir and Islamist ideologue Hassan al-Turabi (Sudan), President Islam Karimov (Uzbekistan), President Nguyen Minh Triet (Vietnam), President Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe).

We ask you O Lord our God to encourage, preserve, strengthen and deliver our repressed, persecuted, terrorised and threatened Christian brothers and sisters. In nations wracked by war and turmoil, protect, defend, sanctify, strengthen and unify your Church so she may emerge in days of peace and liberty to be a remnant that takes root and bears fruit. May those who seek to silence, subjugate or eradicate the Church be frustrated and turned back.

We also pray for the terrorists, militants and dictators themselves, and ask you O Lord to display your 'arm' for the benefit of the Church. We pray for judgment and for mercy, for you are a just and merciful God. May the Church be able to say of them as was said of the Apostle Paul, 'The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.' (Galatians 1:23)

For the sake of your kingdom and glory, AMEN

"Nothing is impossible with God." (Luke 1:37)

Elizabeth Kendal, is the Principal Researcher and Writer for the World Evangelical Alliance's Religious Liberty Commission. She lives in Melbourne, Australia and is the mother of four children. While she has degrees in Music and education, God gave her a painful passion for the persecuted Church and for religious liberty, and a calling to devote her life to helping keep the Church informed about what is going on in the world in terms of religious persecution and repression of religious freedom. She firmly believes that informed prayer has a strategic role to play in God's fulfilling his of promises, through the Church. All her work is posted under "Religious Liberty" on the website of the Australian Evangelical Alliance: http://www.ea.org.au

From the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Religious Liberty Prayer List. Used with permission.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message. The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray specifically and regularly for religious liberty issues, and in particular to uphold the Church where it is suffering persecution.