This month we focus on praying for the Buddhist World and we invite you to join in Intercession and to believe for a great harvest of souls among them. Similar to the Hindu world, this religion has a very strong spiritual hold on those who follow it. Therefore they need prayer for a breakthrough of opening spiritual eyes to see the truth of the Gospel.
Your Prayer and Intercession will mean very much to those laboring and ministering in these nations amidst difficulties and challenges. (Please use the highlighted Scriptures for your prayer.)
‘In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:2 Corinthians 4: 4
Buddhism is one of the world’s major religions which has nearly 600 million followers.
It originated in India in 563–483 B.C.E. with Siddhartha Gautama, and over the next millennia it spread across Asia and the rest of the world.
What do Buddhist Believe?
Buddhists believe that human life is a cycle of suffering and rebirth, but that if one achieves a state of enlightenment (nirvana), it is possible to escape this cycle forever. Siddhartha Gautama was the first person to reach this state of enlightenment and was, and is still today, known as the Buddha. Buddhists do not believe in any kind of deity or god, although there are supernatural figures who can help or hinder people on the path towards enlightenment
Siddhartha Gautama was an Indian prince in the fifth century B.C.E. who, upon seeing people poor and dying, realized that human life is suffering. He renounced his wealth and spent time as a poor beggar, meditating and traveling but ultimately, remaining unsatisfied, settling on something called “the Middle Way.” This idea meant that neither extreme asceticism or extreme wealth were the path to enlightenment, but rather, a way of life between the two extremes. Eventually, in a state of deep meditation, he achieved enlightenment, or nirvana underneath the Bodhi tree (the tree of awakening). The Mahabodhi Temple in Bihar, India—the site of his enlightenment—is now a major Buddhist pilgrimage site.
Prayer: “Lord, let the Light of the Gospel shine in the hearts and minds of the Buddhist People! “
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. ‘2 Corinthians 4:6
Four Noble Truths:
The Buddha taught about Four Noble Truths.
- The first truth is called “Suffering (dukkha),” which teaches that everyone in life is suffering in some way.
- The second truth is “Origin of suffering (samudāya).” This states that all suffering comes from desire (tanhā).
- The third truth is “Cessation of suffering (nirodha),” and it says that it is possible to stop suffering and achieve enlightenment.
- The fourth truth, “Path to the cessation of suffering (magga)” is about the Middle Way, which are the steps to achieve enlightenment.
Buddhists believe in a wheel of rebirth (reincarnation), where souls are born again into different bodies depending on how they conducted themselves in their previous lives. This is connected to “karma,” which refers to how a person’s good or bad actions in the past or in their past lives can impact them in the future.
Karma is the belief that the quality of our life today has been determined by the fruit of our past lives. According to the law of karma, if a person’s good works exceed his or her bad works, it is possible to reach a higher existence in the next life. The lowest level of existence is a demon in hell. The next levels move from insects to animals, to human beings, to angels in heaven. Ultimately the goal is enlightenment, escaping the cycle of death and rebirth completely. In some Buddhist traditions, people do not think they will reach enlightenment any time soon, but simply hope to attain a higher level in the next life.
One religious exercise is called making merit. Merit can be earned in many ways, including visiting the temple, burning incense, meditating, giving gifts to a monk, being blessed by a monk, donating money, purchasing and placing a gold leaf on Buddha statues, saying prayers, or ringing temple bells.
Many practices of merit making have developed over the years and have been greatly influenced by culture. For example, Buddha images seen in temples and virtually every home and business in Thailand were originally meant as reminders and encouragements to follow the steps of the Buddha. Over time, people began to offer flowers, incense, and other gifts to these images as a way to make merit.
Prayer: Lord, let their Eyes and Ears be opened for the Gospel!
‘Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. ‘Isaiah 35:5-6
Forms of Buddhism
The main branches of Buddhism are identified as three “yanas” (vehicles) of Buddhism — Hinayana (“small vehicle”), Mahayana (“great vehicle”), and Vajrayana (“diamond vehicle”).
The two major branches of Buddhism, Mahayana and Theravada has several smaller branches formed from them.
Mahayana Buddhism is mainly practiced in northern parts of Asia (for example, China, Taiwan, Mongolia).
Theravada Buddhism is found mostly in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos) in South Asia (Sri Lanka). This is an orthodox form which is also known as the ‘narrow path’ which is strongly controlled by the Priests and in some nations supported by the governments and rulers. Countries like Thailand and other nations have major cultural resistance to the Gospel due to such influence.
The ‘Tantra’ being the distinguishing feature of Vajrayana also known as Tantric Buddhism is which is followed by Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. Tibetans believe that Dalai Lama is an incarnation of a Buddha and venerate him and follow his teachings. This aspect of Buddhism involves spiritism and it has a strong spiritual hold on followers. The teachings of Dalai Lama on non-violence have been very attractive to many followers in Western nations.
Prayer: Lord we pray for multitudes of Buddhists turning from many nations to follow Jesus Christ.
‘For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction…how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, ‘1 Thessalonians 1:4-5,9
Buddhist Population across the nations:
Please pray for the following Nations which have a considerable number of Buddhist people scattered around the world.
- China 254.7 million
- Thailand 66.1 million
- Myanmar 41.44 million
- Japan 41.38 million
- Sri Lanka 14.4 million
- Vietnam 14.4 million
- Cambodia 13.7 million
- South Korea 11.1 million
- India 9.3 million
- Malaysia 5 million
- Taiwan 5 million
- Laos 4.1 million
- United States 3.6 million
- Nepal 3.1 million
- Singapore 1.7 million
- Indonesia 1.7 million
- Mongolia 1.5 million
- Hong Kong 930,000
- Bangladesh 920,000
- Australia 600,000
- Bhutan 540,000
Prayer of Thanksgiving: Lord, we thank you that these Buddhist Nations will come to your Light of the Gospel as we continue to pray for the Buddhist World!
‘The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” ‘“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. ‘Matthew 4:16; Isaiah 60:1,3