I Prayed have prayed
Lord, please strengthen and embolden America’s top diplomats to aggressively advance the fundamental principles of life and liberty that You have blessed us with in this nation. May we hold true to them at home and abroad.

This week the State Department released their annual International Religious Freedom report. But who is reporting on them? The State Department is notorious inside the Beltway as a bastion of left wing, progressive thought that is often hostile to conservatives and, ironically in light of the religious freedom report, to Christians. Although press statements coming out of the State Department appear to indicate an ongoing commitment to the promotion of religious liberty around the world, when we asked Christians inside the State Department how we can pray for them, their answers were heart-wrenching.

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First, we offer a summary of the report and then we share the prayer points for the State Department.

2021 International Religious Freedom Report

Actions speak louder than words — but words are important. On matters of faith and freedom, the White House leaving any clear reference to God out of the President’s National Day of Prayer proclamation wasn’t a confidence-building start to the month.

But more recent words from federal officials may offer some hope, at least in the global arena.

Now, will the action match the words?

The positive words came this week with the State Department’s first report on international religious freedom (IRF) during the Biden administration. Mandated by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, this report is an annual submission to Congress and it is useful as a detailed survey of the global religious freedom landscape. It can also set the stage for particularly egregious human rights violators to face sanctions if they are later formally designated as “Countries of Particular Concern.”

Announcing the new report, U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken called religious liberty a right that “goes to the heart of what it means to be human – to think freely, to follow our conscience, to change our beliefs if our hearts and minds lead us to do so, to express those beliefs in public and in private.” 

Pointing to the honored place religious freedom has internationally in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as in our own First Amendment, Blinken said, “Our country’s commitment to defending freedom of religion and belief goes back centuries. It continues today.”

It is noteworthy that Blinken then made sure to emphasize his belief in the “indivisible” and “interdependent” nature of all human rights. “Religious freedom is not more or less important than the freedom to speak and assemble, to participate in the political life of one’s country, to live free from torture or slavery, or any other human right,” he said.

Pressed on this statement by reporters later, Daniel Nadel, who leads State’s IRF Office, suggested this is a “clarification” that the Biden Administration doesn’t believe in a hierarchy of rights. “But that in no way is to indicate that religious freedom is any less important,” he said.

Like Blinken, who called religious freedom “a key element of an open and stable society,” Nadel also highlighted that countries upholding this liberty “are more peaceful, stable, prosperous and more reliable partners of the United States than those that do not.”

Nadel added, “So it has long been recognized that promoting religious freedom is vital to America’s national security interests.”

Certainly, that was believed — and acted upon — in the Trump administration. The selection and empowerment of former IRF Ambassador Sam Brownback, the elevation of a dedicated religious freedom official on the National Security Council, and the incorporation of this right as a formal top tier diplomatic objective — all these actions left no doubt in capitals around the world just how strong America’s commitment was to the honoring of its first freedom.

However, despite potent and, I believe, sincere words honoring religious liberty in years before that, too often that cornerstone liberty seemed to take a back seat to other concerns when the rubber met the road in diplomacy.

So now the Biden administration must decide if its actions will back its words. Will it aggressively build on the momentum of recent years in advancing respect for this liberty abroad? It has taken steps, including the sanctioning of a Chinese official this week. But will it continue to ensure the strength of a voice focused on religious liberty in its day-to-day decision-making? What will become of the International Religious Freedom Alliance spearheaded by the U.S. and joined by dozens of nations? Certainly, the choice (hopefully soon) of key officials like a strong IRF ambassador will be telling.

Prayer Points from within the State Department

Americans across the political spectrum know how important our first freedom is. So too do Christians who work in the State Department, which is notorious inside the Beltway as a bastion of left wing, progressive thought that is often hostile to conservatives, and ironically in light of the religious freedom report, to Christians. How can you pray for the Christians who are working in the State Department? We asked and they answered–

  • That religious freedom and freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights will be carried out
  • For the Lord’s will to be done here on Earth as it is in heaven
  • For the supernatural presence of Jesus to wrap around each person who has stood for Him in the State Department and diplomatic community
  • For strength to continue to be a faithful witness for God
  • For suffering Christians to have compassion for and favor with leaders and colleagues in the U.S. government (and that these leaders and colleagues would explore Christianity)
  • “For movement to free those who are at the end of their rope.” Editor’s note: I want you to see exactly how this was phrased. I started to edit it and realized that the way it is written conveys the heart and reality of what it is like to be a Christian in leadership in the State Department. It is a heartfelt and perhaps desperate cry for God to move significantly in the work they are doing and in his or her life personally. Don’t just breeze through this last prayer point–press into the Father to intercede effectively for your brothers and sisters in Christ who are in need and at the end of their ropes. Can’t you picture the pressure and strain?
  • For an effective Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom to be appointed, who will highlight this issue well and leave a God fearing, God pleasing legacy


You are not going to find this anywhere else. Will you share these prayer points with your friends?

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May 16, 2021

I am a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer. I was incredibly proud to serve my country for nearly three decades. As a Christian I faced very few obstacles to practicing my faith no matter where I was around the globe, although not many of my colleagues were open to hearing about it. At the professional level, the crux is to pray for our diplomats to act upon the courage of their convictions in order to do and say the right things in defense of American values in very tense bilateral or multilateral negotiations. Please pray that God will give them the heart of a lion to defend our freedoms, particularly religious liberty, and to extend them to our allies and friends. The Biden administration will attract and embolden those who are hostile to God to serve in departments and agencies across the USG, including the State Department. Pray that God will give His wisdom and strength to all in our foreign policy establishment in particular, including the National Security Council, State, DOD, and the intel community. Ephesians 6:12-13.

    May 16, 2021

    Thank you for your service to our great nation. This article & your response helps to pinpoint how to pray more specifically. I’ve been praying & will continue to lift up fellow Christians serving to be “bold as a lion” to defend our freedoms in the US and around the world for the glory of God!

    Susan CC
    May 16, 2021

    Father, I do believe we must wrestle against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. I pray in courageous humility for You to fit each and every one in our National Security Council, State Dept., DOD, and the intel community with Your Godly armor, and empower them to withstand evil as they stand firm on Your Word. For those who have no faith, may the faith of those like Tammy be a light in the darkness and just like moths, may they be drawn to it/them. In the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen

    Thank you Tammy, may God bless you and all those you love.

Susan CC
May 15, 2021

Blinken called religious freedom “a key element of an open and stable society,” YES
Nadel said that countries upholding this liberty “are more peaceful, stable, prosperous and more reliable partners of the United States than those that do not.” YES

I just shared this article and feel compelled to pray over several points that stood out in my reading.

I pray the Biden administration will aggressively build and promote religious liberty abroad .

I pray for Daniel Nadel, who leads the Office of International Religious Freedom. My prayer is that the Lord would cover him with favor. Favor in his motivation, favor in his discussions and actions. But undergirding this favor, a rock solid resolve to do the will of the Lord.

I pray through an army of committed men and women, the Lord would ensure the strength of a voice focused on religious liberty in decision making and action.

I pray the International Religious Freedom Alliance which was spearheaded by the U.S., would grow exponentially with countless more nations joining.

Abba Father, I thought “insurmountable” when praying but impossible in not in Your vocabulary. I humbly ask for You to breath Your power and authority into this office, its members, and all those who communicate with these individuals. And I ask as they go about their day, they know they are in the hands of the Living God. I ask this and so much more in the Perfect Name of Jesus Christ. Amen


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