Some groups will observe November 20 as IDOP this year, but as this day falls somewhat close to the American Thanksgiving holiday, at least one group has opted for November 13, and the major Christian relief organization Open Doors has set November 6 – the first Sunday in the month – as the Day of Prayer.
Whichever day – or days – we may focus on the needs of our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world, the need has never been greater. In many countries in Africa and Asia, especially, millions of Christians endure continued restrictions, harassment and humiliation for their faith. They, sadly, are the fortunate ones. Millions more believers face ongoing violence with beatings, torture, and murder occurring on a daily basis at the hands of terrorist groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram, but also from mainstream followers of many non-Christian religions. Many people cannot meet or worship freely and many live their lives in constant danger and deprivation because of their faithfulness. These are the reasons why persecuted Christians deserve and need our prayers daily, and why the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church focusses on the situation in a united manner.
If you are not familiar with the levels of persecution that are extant in the world at the present time or want to understand more about the situation, we recommend Open Doors’ World Watch List as a good place to start. This excellent list shows the extent of the problem and provides opportunities to learn more. The website also shows other ways we can help.
Once we understand the magnitude of the situation, we are better equipped to pray in a more meaningful way for those who need help. As the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:26, when one part of the Body of Christ – the Church – suffers, all parts suffer. These are not pleasant things to contemplate or to concentrate on, but if we are not suffering in our hearts and minds for our persecuted brothers and sisters (Romans 12:15), we must ask ourselves to what degree are we really part of that Body. Remembering the persecuted Church can help those in need in immeasurable, but very real, ways.