Kim died Dec. 17 of a heart attack while riding a train, according to North Korea's official KCNA news agency.
A period of national mourning has been declared through Dec. 29; the funeral is slated Dec. 28, according to KCNA.
As the capital city of Pyongyang pronounces an increase in "military capability" -- and South Korea moves to full military alert in fear of instability in the poor and isolated nuclear-armed nation -- many wonder what will happen next.
Within minutes of the official announcement of Kim's death Dec. 19, Christians around the globe began posting prayer requests on Twitter and Facebook on behalf of the region.
"Praying for North and South Korea," Jeana Lim, a Korean American living in Saratoga, Calif., wrote on her Facebook page. "God, let your will be done."
Although prayer for the impoverished North Korea is nothing new among evangelical Christians, the death of the 69-year-old leader and the many unknowns surrounding his successor, youngest son Kim Jong Un, have increased anxiety throughout the region, especially as the North test-fired a missile Dec. 19 over the East Sea.
"Wow! Kim Jong Il is dead …" wrote Dale Brown, a former resident of Seoul who now lives in the Middle East. "This could be a big game-changer. Let us all be praying for North Korea! For such a time as this!"
As questions about the future loom, Luke In*, a Korean-American Christian worker based in Southeast Asia, prays that this advent season will bring God's peace to the region.
"Praying for North Korea," wrote In. "May the true Son warm the hearts of North Koreans this season. He is our hope."
Among the ways to pray for North Korea:
-- for peace and stability within North Korea and the region during the transition of political power to Kim Jong Un.
-- that the transition will result in greater freedoms for all North Korean citizens.
-- for greater openness and religious freedom within the reclusive nation.
*Name changed. To read a Baptist Press story from Dec. 19 on the death of North Korea's Kim Jong Il, visit http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=36817.
Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net