Editor’s note: Not only do we seek to share the stories and experiences of Chinese Christians, we also strive to pray for them. In this new series, our blog editor shares how she is praying for China this month.
Grim is perhaps too mild a word: “wars and rumors of war” dominate the headlines, a global pandemic has raged for two years, and in the West, it seems there is no end to obstinate intramural fights over the shape of society. In some ways, it’s even worse for Chinese Christians: there, the last years have been increasingly difficult as the public space within which house church Christians are allowed to practice their faith has increasingly constricted around them. Apprehension about an uncertain future seems warranted.
Prayers of Lament
In these times, it is fitting that our year of prayer for China began with a focus on the Psalms of lament. Sorrow is deeply uncomfortable, but praying through grief and anger is the response modeled throughout Scripture. In the past year, we’ve shared on the blog many examples of how interacting with the Chinese house church helps global believers process their own challenges. Today, I want to share how I am praying for China this month, guided by the prayers of Chinese believers and their own struggles with the psalms of sorrow.
Prayer is not passive, but active. As we pray, we ascend to the throne room of heaven, and join other believers across the world and through the ages in worship. When we pray for our brothers and sisters in China, we share their burdens and are united with these believers, from whom we are temporarily severed by distance, language, and culture. Through prayer, we participate in their trials, stand in God’s presence on their behalf, and surrender to his wisdom even while petitioning him for the things we long for.
Peace, Pandemic, and Politics
In this month of lament, I am praying that God will “grant us the surprising peace of Christ.” As Psalm 88 shows, we can come to God in our despair and with troubled souls. As one person, I can do nothing to solve the problems of persecuted Chinese Christians. But I can share their sorrow, and I can bring that anguish to the Lord. So I am praying that, in the midst of troubled times, Chinese Christians will know God’s peace, which passes understanding.
Would You Pray With Us Today?
I am praying that this peace will not only be one of the spirit, but that peace descends on earth as well. I am praying for war to be averted, and that the faithful witness of the Chinese church will influence Chinese leaders and allow China to become a conduit for peace.
I am praying that Chinese believers will turn their sorrow into prayer as they “take hold of and turn back to the Lord.” I am praying, in the words of Psalm 6, that God will hear and accept our prayers, and that he will show mercy to his church in China so that they may glorify him through their deliverance.
I am praying for the COVID crisis in China. Even as the rest of the world is opening up, China is struggling to maintain its “Zero COVID” policy. Rolling lockdowns and an uncertain endpoint make this a particularly touchy time within China, as it is unclear what the exit strategy will be. I am praying that God will have mercy on this pandemic. I am praying for those who are impacted by current lockdowns, and—as I have heard Chinese Christians pray—that they will not “waste this pandemic.” May God use even this season to bring himself glory and honor.
Political regulations continue to tighten in China; new Internet rules are set to take effect in March which threaten to choke out even online worship and gathering among Chinese believers. When it is difficult to meet in person, and even online gathering is blocked, it is tempting to believe (as the psalmist laments in Psalm 42) God has forgotten his people. I am praying that enforcement of these regulations will be lax, and many opportunities for online sharing and gathering will remain. I am also praying for hope that looks beyond current circumstances. May Chinese Christians remember, each and every day, that the story of all history finds its climax and its end in resurrection—not in death.
Most of all, I am praying that they will continue to hope in God’s goodness, even when grief is the tune of their song.
E.F. Gregory is a mom of three young children. She lives in the San Gabriel Valley on the border of East Los Angeles, where her husband is a P.C.A. church planter.