Persecution is good for the health of the church. In some ways I don't like that but my experience is and church history tells us that when the church is under pressure it sheds its baggage and rises to the occasion in serious faith. It also separates those who are cultural Christians and serious Christ followers.
Serious Christianity brings persecution because it is a threat to Satan's territory. When the church is not challenged it often becomes stagnant and is no longer a threat to the evil one. The experience of the early church as recorded in Acts is evidence that persecution lights a fire under the church and the church on fire results in persecution.
In China the church under communism flourished. In Iran today, the church under pressure is growing. In Saudi Arabia under extreme pressure, cell groups are springing up. Indian Christians have significant persecution in many parts of their country and the church is growing regularly.
Contrast that with the relative limited impact the church in the west has today where it is easy to be a believer and where there is little cost associated with following Jesus. When faith is easy, it is also often shallow. When it requires a cost, it goes deep and calls the question as to our sincerity in following our Lord.
There are many parts of the world where suffering for faith is considered a mark of honor. Paul expressed that sentiment when he talked about sharing in the sufferings of Christ. Jesus promised that those who followed him would be subject to persecution and ill treatment. That is why He spoke of taking up His cross and following Him.
I do not pray that the church would be free from persecution. I pray that God would build His church and whatever it takes for that to happen is to the church's advantage. I also believe that it is going to take pressure on the church in the west if it is going to become vibrant again.