"Fortunate for you, when people insult you and persecute you and speak all kinds of evil against you because you are my followers. Be glad and joyful, for a great reward is kept for you in God." Matthew 5:11-12
"They brought him out of the city and stoned him, and witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen prayed saying: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he knelt down and said in a loud voice: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he said this, he died." Matthew 7:58-60
The Saint Stephen Foundation is named after the first martyr of the Church. It is estimated that during the 20th Century, there were more Christians martyred than in the entire history of Christianity. In the 21st Century, this tragedy is only worsening. The purpose of the St. Stephen Foundation is to ask Christians of all denominations to pray and fast for persecuted Christians and their persecutors.
Praying and fasting for those who persecute Christians is in keeping with Jesus' call that we pray for our persecutors. "You have heard that is was said: Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you: Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in Heaven. For he makes the sun rise on both the wicked and the good, and he gives rain to both the just and the unjust." Matthew 5: 43-45
Our prayer and fasting are to fight the evil that has engulfed the persecutor. Jesus speaks of the power of prayer as we see in scripture in the story of the demon in the little boy. "Jesus saw the crowd was increasing rapidly, so he ordered the evil spirit, "Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you: Leave the boy and never enter him again." The evil spirit shook and convulsed the boy and with a terrible shriek came out..... After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, "Why couldn't we drive out the spirit?" And he answered, "Only prayer can drive out this kind, nothing else." Mark 9:25-29
Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness. The Holy Spirit guided Him during this time of temptation by the devil. Jesus is our example and how He lived his life is guidance for our life. Jesus began his ministry after fasting. There is a spiritual power in fasting.
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