In my own travels overseas, I have noticed a striking difference in the wording of prayers. When difficulties come, Christians in affluent countries tend to pray, "Lord, take this trial away from us!" I have heard persecuted Christians and some who live in very poor countries pray instead, "Lord, give us the strength to bear this trial."
Curious, I asked an old-time missionary, who has made a dozen trips to visit unregistered house churches in China, if Christians there prayed for a change in restrictive government policies. He replied that not once had he heard a Chinese Christian pray for relief. "They just assume they'll face opposition," he said. "They can't imagine anything else." He then gave some examples of the opposition.
One pastor had served a term of 27 years at hard labor for holding unauthorized church meetings. When he emerged from prison and returned to church, he announced that he had kept a daily count on his dangerous job, and had coupled together one million railroad cars without an injury. "God answered your prayers for my safety!" he rejoiced. Another imprisoned pastor heard that his wife was going blind. Desperate, he reported to the warden that he was renouncing his faith. He was released, but soon felt so guilty that he turned ...1