All Work for God Begins with Prayer

I had a small discussion with one of Public Catholic’s most faithful — and interesting — readers the other day.

I had published this post calling for prayer for persecuted Christians. This particular reader said that we need to do something about this and not just pray. It made me smile when I read that because he’s right: We need to do something.

And we will.

If we pray.

Why would anyone recommend prayer in the face of this onslaught of slaughter? One reason is that the persecuted Christians themselves ask for prayer. Every time I talk to someone who lives in an area where Christians are subjected to violent persecution, I ask them how I can help them. Invariably, they ask for prayer.


You’d think they’d ask for a rocket launcher, or at least a few grenades.

Why prayer?

I think the answer is that these people are people of faith, just like us, only they no longer carry around the burden of the accoutrements of faith that weigh us down. Every person I have ever talked to who has been through violent persecution for Christ has both a strength and a gentleness that sets them apart.

The things we think are so important have been stripped away from them as they come face to face with the question that we all wonder how we would answer: Will you die for Him?

I think that once a person looks into the reality of that question, not as a hypothetical, but as an actual life or death decision that they are making, they are changed. The fires of persecution seem to burn away the chaff of people’s lives and the ones who persist and do not yield learn what sustains in time of grave peril.

I think that is why they ask for prayer.

That is one reason to pray, because the people we want to help have asked us to pray.

Another reason is because entering into this arena of Christian persecution paints our faces on the devil’s dart board. We will be assailed and attacked, slandered and maligned for speaking out for persecuted Christians. This is the natural course of things when anyone defends God’s children. We need prayer for the strength it gives us as we do this work.

The next reason to pray is because we need direction. Not only that, but we need God to raise up Christians everywhere to fight this plague of violence. We need to pray and pray and let God work.

Prayer is the key to doing God’s will. Not that He is likely to put a burning bush that is not consumed in our paths. But that prayer keeps us in contact with grace. If we want to do something about persecuted Christians — and I hope sincerely that every one who reads this does — begin with prayer. I don’t mean one Rosary or some small bit of jingoistic something you learned as a child. I mean walking with the Lord in prayer day after day after day.

Just pray and wait. If God wants active work from you, you’ll know soon enough. If, on the other hand, He wants you to be a permanent prayer warrior, do that.

I was thrilled with what the reader said that day. Excited. Because I think he’s the kind of person who actually will do something. I do not want to stifle anyone in that. I only ask that in all the doing, we pray and wait on the Lord lead us first.

All work for God begins with prayer. That’s a truth of life in Christ as I know it.

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  • Heloise1

    Pray for the men and women in the United States Air Force also. Big articles in Texas papers about Christians threatened, disciplined, and silenced for their faith at the base in San Antonio. This is how the war on Christians is moving right along in our own country.

  • Manny

    Hey i know who you are talking about! And i’ve drafted that letter to Cardinal Dolan. I want to let it settle in my brain and reread it before I send it off. :)

    • hamiltonr

      Bless you Manny.

    • peggy-o

      Manny I hope you follow through on that letter after prayer I am trying not to judge the cardinal, but am perplexed lately and have thought of writing too. My spiritual director thinks he’s weak but I keep hoping my hometown spiritual brother will bring firmness to his collegiality for the good of those troubled souls he hangs with and the scandal it causes It would be good for him to hear your point of view so go for it!

      • Manny

        Thanks Peggy. I will.

  • peggy-o

    one thought comes to mind oct 7th is the feast of the holy rosary. My son and I were reading about the battle of Lepanto commemorated on that day With much suffering from the turks the pope had everyone making rosary crusades and processions all over Italy The winds changed and the heavily outnumbered christians defeated the turks and turned the tide The pope saw the victory in a vision Might be nice to start some new rosary processions in our communities and combine prayer and action and evangelization.

  • machita

    Prayer is key and the foundation! For some countries (not all) there is another small thing we can do that has a big impact, and that is to write letters and cards of encouragement. This has an impact on various levels – first and most importantly, it reminds the person and/or their family that they are not forgotten. I’ve interviewed survivors of persecution who told me that in their darkest moments, just looking at the cards and letters they received felt as if the people who had sent them were standing there with them in person. For those who have children it’s also something to show them, as a physical manifestation of a kind of prayer, that their Christian family loves them and that they are not alone. Invariably, every person I’ve talked to keeps these letters and cards as one of their most precious possessions even as their circumstances sometimes change. On a second level, the arrival of cards and letters to an individual, family or church is a warning to their persecutors (who notice these things) that these people are not ‘nobodies’ – that any harm that comes to them will not go unnoticed and unremarked. In many cases this causes the persecutors to step back and rethink their strategy. It doesn’t mean that the persecution stops, but sometimes that it becomes a little less immediately dangerous. As the holidays approach, please consider taking the time to drop a postcard or short letter in the mail to one of these dear brothers and sisters. It takes very little time or effort (or money) but has a huge impact. Christian Solidarity Worldwide UK publishes an updated address book with testimonies three times a year that can be downloaded on the website and I know that other religious freedom groups have similar initiatives so worth exploring their websites to find these resources. But always, always keep these people in prayer.