Acton Institute Powerblog

The Power of Prayer in a Time of Severe Persecution

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As Americans face an increasing wave of pressure on religious liberty here at home, Christians around the world are enduring unprecedented levels of persecution.

According to We Stand With Them, a new group focused on “standing with those who stand with Jesus,” 100 million Christians were targeted for their faith in 2015, including a 136% increase over the previous year in believers who were killed for their faith. Last year was “the worst year for Christian persecution on record,” according to the group.

In a powerful new video, they aptly illustrate the situation:

As the narrator explains:

According to the U.S. State Department, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution for their faith in Jesus. 75% of people on the planet today live in countries where persecution of Christians is the norm…In fact, Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, and there’s more persecution of Christians today than at any point in human history.

…Persecution generally doesn’t start with beheadings and massacres. It starts in subtle ways, with alienation and discrimination. And when the world is silent: suffering prevails.

It is important that we pray and intercede on behalf of these believers and they countries they inhabit. “We know that our God is greater than persecution,” the group says. “When we stand together in prayer for the persecuted heroes of the global Church, God hears from heaven, and He answers.”

Jesus reminds us that “blessed are the persecuted, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” and God can surely use and redeem the profound pain of such persecution. But such violence and oppression destroys lives and relationships in the here and know, having ripple effects that hinder and hamper the spreading of the Gospel in many, many ways.

The spiritual implications are severe, and they stretch deep into the broader social and economic order. Samuel Gregg has outlined how religious liberty is intricately linked to economic and political liberty, and researches like Brian Grim, Greg Clark, and Robert Edward Snyder have demonstrated a strong correlation between such liberty and economic growth. Such oppression goes from the persecuted and their families to the society as a whole, and back and forth again.

For those seeking holistic peace and prosperity for our nation and our global neighbors, religious persecution can’t be categorized as a “side issue.” It is fundamental to all else, and so in all of our corresponding prayers and efforts to alleviate pain and suffering, let us not neglect to remember the persecuted.

Joseph Sunde is an associate editor and writer for the Acton Institute. His work has appeared in venues such as The Federalist, First Things, The City, The Christian Post, The Stream, Charisma News, Juicy Ecumenism, Ethika Politika, Made to Flourish, and the Center for Faith and Work. Joseph resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and four children.


  • Bruce Smith

    My name is Bruce E. Smith. I am a members of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification in Indianapolis, IN.

    I would like your support in getting the conviction of Reverend Sun Myung Moon on tax evasion pardoned posthumously by President Barrack Obama.

    In my hometown, rumors about “this new church” appeared in the Milwaukee Sentinel and Milwaukee Journal in 1977. I left Milwaukee and I met the Unification Church in 1978 in Los Angles. This was about the time when Jim Jones and his followers in Guyana, South America were killed , which happened on Nov. 18, 1978, where more than 900 men, women and children – many of them poor African Americans from San Francisco – died after drinking a cyanide-laced potion in Peoples Temple founder Jim Jones’ compound in the jungles of Guyana. This was also the time of religious revolution in the Middle East as the Iranian Revolution was taking place and the “fear of Islam” dominated international press.

    The words “cult” and “fear” began to creep into the media. Slanderous statements where heard such as “don’t be brainwashed” or “don’t drink the Kool-Aid”.

    Similar, if not exact, events occurred in cities and towns all over America all at the time. Was it the media? Was it a Government conspiracy? Was it both?

    Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the timeline of his life, history of the Unification Church, and his trial in America are summarized by numerous Wikipedia entries.

    Those dates and the timelines may be accurate, but the events of history, if put into spiritual context, give a much better understanding what happened.

    I believe it was first of all spiritual! It all started with the Jones Town Massacre, and the treatment of Jim Jones, born and raised in Crete, Indiana. He served as the Civil Rights Commissioner, but felt uneasy as he saw religion and racial bigotry throughout the halls of government and the pulpits continue to be a source of his frustrations.

    I started a blog that examines the spiritual reasons religious fear, intolerance and bigotry exist, how it started, when it started and where it came from.

    Please view my blog at

    Take the time to take the Survey:

    Thanks and God Bless