With all of the news about Osama, Syria, Tunisia, Japan, Egypt, Lybia, and the rest of the world, I’ve been reminded of how small my prayers can be. Usually, I pray about the daily needs confronting me and my immediate circle of relationships. There’s nothing illegitimate about that, mind you, but getting locked into my own little prayer world can be nearsighted, self-pitying, and shallow. There is a world that God that cares about outside of my own little corner, and God is doing some incredible things in that world. I’ve found that taking just a little time to think and pray about that world encourages me in several ways.
1. Praying for the world reminds me that the obstacles and difficult situations in my life are not nearly as all-consuming as they pretend to be.
2. Praying for the world reminds me that just as God is moving in the far corners of the world, so he is moving in mine. He’s really that big.
3. Praying for the world humbles me that God has a bigger agenda with the world than just making sure I get a new carpet (something I prayed for recently). He cares about the little details, but his mission for the world is not to make me and my loved ones more comfortable, but to bring about new creation.
4. Praying for the world exposes the self-centeredness and hardness of my own heart. One of our staff members showed me a picture of wet plywood today as we prayed for Latvia. He talked about one of the nights of camp where students were called to repent of their sins and call on Jesus for salvation. They were called up to a small stage made of plywood, and circled up, confessing their sins to God and crying out for mercy. As the time concluded and students returned to their seats, they noticed that the floor was soaked with the tears of repentance. God is really doing things like this across the world. As I pray for the nations, I open up myself to the possibility that such work could happen here, right where I live.
So how do we include praying for the world into my already packed prayer lists?
Pray as a group. I’ve found that incorporating prayer for the nations into our small group time or even as a staff is a great way to keep myself rooted weekly in God’s heart for the nations. We’ve spent the last two months in our staff meetings sharing about different countries that are on our heart. Each week we pray for a different country. In my weekly small group, at the end of everyone sharing their prayer requests, we pray for one nation that has been in the news.
Use Operation World. If you haven’t heard of Operation World, you’re missing out on a huge resource. Here’s a blurb from their website.
“Operation World (OW) is widely regarded as the definitive volume of prayer information about the world and is the recipient of the ECPA Gold Medallion Award for Excellence in Evangelical Christian Literature.
OW has had seven editions published. The most recent is from 2005, which is a revision of the 21st century edition, released in 2001. The previous edition was published in 1993. The original edition was produced in 1964, from South Africa, and was only 32 pages of basic information about 30 countries.
The all new 7th edition was released in October of 2011. OW listed in Christianity Today’s The Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals, Landmark titles that changed the way we think, talk, witness, worship, and live.”
They have a printed book, epub, and pdf version. I have it on my IPad, and it’s beautiful.
Pray for friends that you support. I’ve also found that praying for the nations in which I have friends is a great way to remember the nations because something personal is at stake. If you’re not supporting any missionary friends who are among the nations, then get to it!!!
Amidst all of the bombs that go off in our day-to-day lives, remember that God is big enough, smart enough, and powerful enough to take care of all the bombs going off in the world (literally and figuratively), and may your prayers reflect His size.