“Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them: pray that God will bless them” – Romans 12:14
I was recently in Canberra, getting ready to speak about the persecuted church to about 300 people, who had gathered in the Great Hall of Parliament House for the annual Christian Schools Australia conference. As I was at the hotel preparing for the night, I received a phone call from a friend who had recently committed to taking the One With Them Challenge and wearing a wristband. He asked me the following question;
Mike, what does it really look like to bless those who persecute you?
I’m not sure if you agree, but I think this has to be one of the most read and least practiced verses in the Bible!
As I spoke with my friend about some of the struggles we both faced trying to get our heads around this verse, I told him my thoughts; I think we find this verse difficult because we often apply our westernized understanding of ‘blessing’ to this statement, for example;
I don’t believe this verse is saying…
Give the people committing these atrocious acts against our brothers and sisters in Christ all the good things in the world; money, health, great jobs, great marriages, brilliant kids and a get out of jail free card.
I do believe this verse is saying…
Bless (save) those who persecute the church and in doing so persecute you, Jesus, draw them to You and save them from an eternity in separated from your love.
We need to re-align the word ‘bless’ from being all about materialistic increase, to being about salvation. As Christians we are not called to stand for these abuses of human rights and we’re definitely not called to ask God to give them more ‘stuff’ because of their actions.
What we’re called to do is eagerly and sincerely desire their salvation and intercede for our brothers and sisters who may not be able to pray this prayer because of the experiences they’re currently facing. Can you imagine how difficult it is for the people who are the victims to pray this prayer? We are called to intercede for them and on their behalf ask God to bless (save) those committing these acts.
BUT the other catch is this…
If we re-align our understanding of the word ‘bless’ then it undeniably impacts our next prayer – for those who suffer persecution. I know I can so often use the word ‘bless’ in my prayer life, that it becomes somewhat watered down and covers almost anyone and anything I’m praying for… but, if we’re asking God to save the unsaved then when it comes to the victims of persecution, we’re going to need to better articulate what we desire for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Essentially my prayer goes from bless those who suffer for your namesake to more specific requests like… give them strength, protect them, give them shelter, refuge and let your presence be known to them.
So this week as you pray for the persecutors, the persecuted and your own relationship with God:
- Try asking that God would save (bless) those committing these acts of violence.
- Specifically name the way in which you desire God to help Christians facing persecution (e.g. shelter, strength, courage, friends etc).
- Become more aware of how often and in what context you use the word ‘bless’ when you’re praying. Each time you catch yourself saying it, try and change it to be a specific request for the person or situation you’re using the word in.
- Ask that God would continue to work in your heart and draw you closer to Him.
Changing my prayer life as above is my commitment to taking one-step in the direction to who I want to be in Christ, and my hope is that it is the same for you too.
Please let me know your thoughts on the ‘One With Them’ Challenge and this BLOG by commenting below.
Mike Gore is the CEO for Open Doors Australia. Mike is passionate about people and building teams. To contact Mike or book him to speak to your team, church or organisation please email email@example.com or call 02 9451 2999.
All speaker fees and honorariums need to be made directly to Open Doors Australia.
Open Doors has been serving the persecuted church for 60 years and works in countries where faith costs the most. To find out more or sign up to support people who share our faith but not our freedom please click here.
- Postage fees apply with all wristbands. However, if you have a speaker coming to your church soon then they’ll have them available at their Open Doors table.
This blog was originally posted by Mike Gore on LinkedIn.