Practical Ideas to Help You, Your Friends, and Your Church Pray for the World
By Shane Bennett
Here’s the deal: Most Christians don’t pray for the world. No big surprise there. This “world” thing is most of my life and I still struggle to pray for it! Christians who don’t pray for the world don’t do so because they’re bad or carnal or somehow inferior to big-time missions people. We don’t pray for the world because we’ve got a whole lot of world right up in our faces, pulling on our pant leg, texting us after we’ve gone to bed.
And it’s tough to remember to pray for people you don’t know, whose names you can’t pronounce and whose cities you’ll never visit. (To be honest, there’s also the possibility we don’t believe prayer matters. That’s a subject for another article, maybe even another author!)
My hunch is still that many Christians, maybe most, would pray for the world if they were equipped and reminded. And you and I can do that.
Andrew Murray said, “The man (or woman) who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history.” Do you want to make a great contribution? Here are tools and ideas in six categories designed to facilitate global intercession. Dive in.
1. Deck the Halls
When our family lived in Holland, our neighborhood was haunted by a small, furtive band of shifty-eyed malcontents who got paid (perhaps in narcotics?) to slap up posters on every flat, semi-stable surface in the city center. They always seemed to be just one step ahead of the law, and neither their dog nor baby looked to be eating well.
Your church has walls and you have a message to get across. But don’t be like the malcontents; go above board on it. Ask permission. And ask early. Prime bulletin board space was reserved months in advance in one church I worked for!
Once you’ve secured permission, make it big and beautiful (like this) and readable from half the distance to the opposite wall! Offer clear, bold prayer requests and flyers people can take with them.
If you’ve got the digital chops to maintain it, consider leapfrogging technologies to a couple of flat-screen TVs with scrolling prayer info from the ministries your church supports. I’ve got friends who pull this off well, and they're in a church that isn’t big. Maybe you can do it too.
2. Use the Newsletter Better
Does your church publish a monthly newsletter or a weekly bulletin? Does it ever include questionable clip art of a sunset with a scripture on it or overly large, swirly font headlines in the kids’ section? Those are your clues that they might need more worthy content. You could kindly offer to provide that content in the form of winsome, well-written global prayer requests.
But where are you going to get that content? Glad you asked:
- Operation World is still the gold standard for global prayer fodder.
- You're welcome to reprint what you get from Missions Catalyst.
- Additionally, check out Justin Long’s amazing Prayer Guide page to find dozens of sites and publications packed with prayer possibilities. If you publish a prayer guide that’s not yet on Justin’s page, let him know.
3. Please Remind Me
I frequently invite Perspectives students to subscribe to Missions Catalyst because it will provide a weekly dose of, “Yes, I believe in this stuff.” Sometimes all it takes it a little poke in the brain to help us pray for things we really want to pray for. Since you’re probably not going to text all of your friends once a week to remind them to pray for the world, here are some resources that might accomplish that for you.
- Subscribe to Global Prayer Digest: This can give you and your friends a venerable and effective daily dose of global prayer.
- Luke 10.02 Prayer: Ask people to set an alarm on their phone for 10.02 am to remind them to pray as Jesus instructed, “Father, send laborers into your harvest!”
- Prayer token: Give people something to carry with their keys or change to remind them, maybe multiple times a day, to pray for the world. Consider glass gems, tiny globes, foreign coins, or maybe a poker chip that says, “All In.”
4. More than Cat Videos, Celebrity Updates, and Politics?
Brilliant, kind people have harnessed the power of the Internet for good and made it easier for us to pray for the planet with these great sites:
- Joshua Project’s Unreached People Group of the Day. It now comes in app form as well!
- The International Mission Board has given us an amazing gift with this interactive map of unreached/unengaged people groups. And you don’t have to be Southern Baptist to join!
- World in Prayer is my new favorite website! Started by St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lodi, California, World in Prayer is now produced by an all-volunteer team of 15 members, living in three countries (two continents), and representing a half dozen different denominations. They write beautiful prayers of petition and thanks in response to changing global situations.
5. Putting Your Prayers Where Your Wallet Is
I’m helping some visionary friends launch Praelude2020, an online effort to facilitate cross-cultural workers raising 24/7 prayer and full funding. It involves prayer partners selecting a 20-minute window in a worker’s week and committing to pray for them some time during that window. The worker adds current prayer requests to the site, maybe once or twice a week.
An hour before the pray-er's selected time, they receive an email or text message to remind them their time slot is approaching and provide the current prayer requests. There's also a link to click indicating they’ve prayed. That click gets reported to the worker which, you might imagine, is very encouraging!
The weekly prayer commitment is coupled with a monthly financial donation. We hope to see tons of workers in tons of agencies using this to get seriously prayed for and sent into their work.
6. Some of the Best Prayers Come from Little Kids
- Kids on Mission Pray: This is a gorgeous suite of downloads and information to lead kids through a focused prayer project for a “forgotten” people or city. Thank you, dear IMB friends!
- Kidzana's prayer cards guide kids and those who care about them in a full month of praying for the needs of children all around the world. And they’re free!
- Check out some DVDs from the world-changing radicals at Bethel that help you teach teams of children about healing the sick and raising the dead!
I don’t want to be your mom or anything, but can I ask you to do three things?
- Look back over this list and ask God to highlight one or two of these ideas for you to begin implement this week, along with one or two friends to share them with.
- Please post in the comments your cool idea that didn’t make my list. There’s a world full of wisdom out there. I’d love for us all to benefit from yours.
- Please think of one or two friends, mission committees, or organizations that would be blessed by this list and forward it to them. Thanks.
May God hear our prayers and answer them beyond what would could even ask or imagine.