God has ordained certain aspects of his will to be accomplished through our prayers. In his sovereignty he does a lot of things without our participation being required, but in certain areas, our participation is vital. Our prayers create the potential for grace to be dispensed to those being persecuted or as light to the persecutors. E. Stanley Jones writes: “In prayer you align yourselves to the purpose and power of God. He is able to do things through you that He couldn’t do otherwise. For this is an open universe, where some things are left open, contingent upon our doing them. If we do not do them, they will never be done. For God has left certain things open to prayer—things which will never be done except as we pray.” (15).
Andrew Murray reinforces this point when he says that “prayer is the power by which that comes to pass which otherwise would not take place” (173). It is clear that there is a relationship between prayer and ministry to the persecuted church. George Mueller said that “our business is to spread our cases before the Lord, in childlike simplicity to pour our heart out before God.”
After his death and resurrection, Christ ascended into heaven to take up the continuing role of priestly intercessor. “He ever makes intercession. The work of Christ on earth as Priest was but a beginning…That intercession is an intense reality, a work that is absolutely necessary, and without which the continued application of redemption [obtained through the atonement] cannot take place” (Murray, 152). “Our ministry of intercession is made possible only because of Christ’s continuing ministry of intercession” (Foster, 193).
Intercessory prayer is simply to pray to God on behalf of others. It is an honor to be involved in the priestly role of intercessor. “The greatest service, whatever your vocation, is to be your priestly intercession. God has ordained to work through the prayers of His people” (Duewel, 41). Foster explains: “Intercessory Prayer is priestly ministry, and one of the most challenging teachings in the New Testament is the universal priesthood of all Christians. As priests, appointed and anointed by God, we have the honor of going before the Most High on behalf of others. This is not optional; it is a sacred obligation—and a precious privilege—of all who take up the yoke of Christ” (191).
The potential of prayer is staggering. Our prayers can affect and change the situation of people in all parts of the world. Wesley Duewel writes: “God has a wonderful plan by which you can have worldwide influence…a true partner in His kingdom’s work, if you really want to be” (11).
Duewel, Wesley. Touch the World Thought Prayer, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 1986.
Foster, Richard. Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home. Harper: San Francisco, 1992.
Jones, E. Stanley in Helen Smith Shoemaker. The Secret of Effective Prayer. Westwood, NJ:
Revell, 1955. Later published by Word Books.
Murray, Andrew. The Believer’s School of Prayer. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers,
Roy Stults, PhD, is the Online Workshop Coordinator and Educational Services Coordinator for The Voice of the Martyrs. He graduated from Olivet Nazarene University (BA and MA), Nazarene Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Doctor of Missiology), and The University of Manchester (England) with a PhD (theology). A Vietnam veteran, Dr. Stults served as a missionary for 19 years and pastored U.S. churches for eight years. Prior to joining VOM, he was a Professor of Religion at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.