Friday, August 31, 2012

The faces of prayer

By Cheryl Odden

Our face is the primary feature that identifies us. The American Heritage Dictionary defines “face” as “the most meaningful surface.”

Every face that we encounter represents someone’s history and background. It reflects the characteristics of that person’s biological parents. It reminds us that this individual is someone’s brother or sister, son or daughter, mother or father. A face may tell us if this person has had a hard day or a rough life, or what he or she is feeling. It may communicate the person’s age, health and even who he or she does or does not spend time with.

As Moses came down from Mount Sinai after meeting with the Lord, it is recorded that his face shone, so much that Aaron and the children of Israel were afraid (Exodus 34:30). Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who endured years of prison and solitary confinement under the Communist regime in Romania, emerged from his sentence not with a countenance reflecting despair or hopelessness, but with joy. His face shone, because in the dark, cold, lonely and crude cells, he met with the Lord.

God was and still is present in the most hostile environments worldwide. He is everywhere, as the psalmist penned, “If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You” (Psalm 139:8,12a). Prison was not the end for Pastor Wurmbrand. In the “hell” of his prison cell, he met with God, as have many persecuted Christians throughout church history.

In the Soviet Union, Aida Skripnikova was imprisoned four times for her witness. She entered prison a young, beautiful woman, but left with a face and body reflecting the harsh conditions she endured. Yet as she left prison, her face shone.

The Voice of the Martyrs presents the “most meaningful surface” of the persecuted Body of Christ — their faces, representing a human life with a story, a family … someone’s brother, sister, son, daughter, mother or father … experiences of heartache and victory, mourning and joy.

As you read their stories, spend extra time looking at their faces. Cut out or photocopy the photographs in our newsletter and place them on your refrigerator or in your Bible, bringing their faces into your prayers. As you lift up requests for that person and his or her country, ask that despite opposition and persecution he or she will remain close to the Lord, leaving His presence with a shining face so that others — even their persecutors — will see and come to know Christ.

For other articles and devotions about praying for the persecuted Church, please visit our website.

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