“So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.” (Acts 12:5 NASB)
The practice of the church fervently praying to God for imprisoned brothers for gospel work was practiced by the first century church. While the church that is suffering rarely has a hard time ‘fervently praying’, the church at peace with sin or in sin rarely even thinks of praying at all.
The commands to be devoted to prayer are found often in Scripture. Evidence of the church gathering together in common places for regular times of prayer is modeled with as much frequency.
Tonight, the saints are encouraged to gather at 204 Eastland Drive North in Twin Falls for prayer. We have many things to ask of God, but this one matter of pastor Saeed Abedini remains a primary matter.
Where I have no idea of what Saeed is facing in the Iranian prison, I thought I would attempt to share a few things this afternoon for the Lord’s people to consider as we gather in places of prayer over the next few hours and days. I apologize to all the suffering saints in chains because of the gospel today if I come across trivial or make light of your suffering. I do not think that there is any comparison to be done with fairness and justice from a Haitian jail to prison conditions in Iran. So as you continue to read, know that I’m not saying this is what it is like for any other brother in Christ, in any other place of the world.
Don’t be fooled. Jail conditions in most places in the rest of the world is nothing like a college dorm room.
- If a bed is even available, it is likely been soiled many times before.
- Electricity is likely not available most of the time if even at all.
- Meaning that hot days are very hot
- Cold nights are very cold
- darkness is unimaginable.
- A private cell is a rare physical luxury.
- Access to fresh drinking water, as you and I would think of, is likely not accessible at will.
- Rodents frequent and reside in garbage bins that are left rarely emptied.
- Plumbing conditions are at risk of not working and causing many unsanitary problems.
- Personal belonging are at risk of being stolen.
- Physical safety is a grave problem.
- Some jailers are at times enticed with bribery to allow injustice.
- Nutritious food is not given in some places.
- Days are difficult as they appear to move slowly.
- Night: time seems to nearly stand still as you await for sunlight. For me, nights were among the most difficult as my body would long for comfort and rest and my mind would journey into depths of self-pity, but at the same time some of the sweetest moments with God I have ever had to this day.
One may argue this a fitting condition for murderers or child molesters. But don’t let your civil rights blood overcome you. A mystery most Christians in a free state have no concept of… This place of wretchedness that pastor Saeed is in is peculiarly ordained from the throne room of Heaven as a place that this King of Glory is shown as a matchless King in all the universe. It makes no sense does it? Yet the bible says we are “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2 Cor 4:10-11 NASB) This is even called a “momentary, light affliction” and “is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor 4:17-18 NASB)
The scoffer may pontificate then that Christians should not pray for the release of Christians in jail because of their faith. The argument I’m making is not that these conditions should be hoped for or that one can not reflect the glory of God unless they suffer in this way. My reason for writing this and reflecting today is to show the conditions to the Lord’s people who don’t know of the urgency in which we are called to pray for the suffering saints.
Being aware of the conditions that pastor Saeed is in should cause the church to be fervently praying. The awareness that this plight of our brother is ordained by God should direct us how to pray.
Pray, yes, that he might be released.
But more so, pray that he endure with joy in the Lord. Pray that God will grant him strength to persevere. Pray that God will cause Saeed and his family to set their hope in the Lord. Pray for visitations from brave brothers in the region that they may be able to reach Saeed with news from his Master to press on.
Pray dear church, pray! What ever you do, don’t stop praying! Don’t pray like a hopeless coward, pray as one praying to Almighty God. Don’t pray out of sentimentality, don’t pray according to your fleshly cravings. Pray as a warrior in a battlefield obeying his commanding general… “Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.” Romans 12:12 (NASB)
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