Thursday, July 28, 2011

Prayer {Day 4}: The World

Oh, dear Lord, help us.  What a daunting task to pray for this world.  There is so much to be thankful for and at the same time to be down-right depressed about.  It can become so very overwhelming.  How do we begin?

Well, there are broad-sweeping prayers for the poor of the world, the homeless, the orphans, the sick, the widows, the abused, the war-torn.  These are important even though sometimes it seems like, oh, so broad a petition.  I can't help but think that there might not be anyone else praying specifically for a particular homeless or abused child somewhere in this world if not for these prayers.  They need our broad-sweeping prayers to cover them.  There might not be anyone praying specifically for a particular man who is struggling to feed or protect his family in a war-torn country or for a woman whose child is dying in her arms due to starvation.  They need our prayers, too.

If these people are not personally known by a Christian who is praying for them, who will pray?  Sometimes it seems too broad, too vague to pray it, but friends, these broad prayers cover specific people that might not otherwise be prayed for, so let's not get discouraged and stop.  They need our prayers.

Taking your prayers a step closer can be meaningful as well.  Knowing about a certain need or concern somewhere on the planet can help us pray more specifically.   There are those who have experienced natural disasters, outbreaks of illness, missionaries and aid workers struggling to meet needs and spread The Good News.  There are people groups who are just opening their hearts and minds to Christ that need His protection as the enemy rears his ugly head to retaliate.  These people need our prayers, too.  One resource for praying for people groups is the book Window on the World that I've written about before which is appropriate for children as well.

Another resource is a booklet called 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World.  Each August Christians are called to pray for Muslims all over the world through this devotional. There is an adult and a kid version.  You can purchase them (the adult booklet is $3 and the kids' is $3.50) or print out the PDF version. This prayer guide can be used any month of the year- not just August.

Open Doors has a pdf you can print out called "Prayer Guide For the Persecuted Church".

 "The Open Doors Handbook of Prayer is a snapshot of the 50 countries of the world where it is hardest to be a Christian.  These are the places where owning a Bible can get you arrested, where attending church means taking a beating, where the price of following Jesus is often paid in blood.  The handbook draws on data from the World Watch List, as annual ranking complied by Open Doors researchers based on detailed information from Open Doors co-workers and key church leaders in over 70 countries.  From North Korea to Nigeria, from Saudi Arabia to Syria, from Pakistan to the Palestinian Territories, these are the places where faith costs the most."  "The information in this booklet shows that, globally, things are getting worse, not better.  Some countries, for example, have moved down the list this year.  It's not that their record has improved; it's just that other countries have outstripped them in persecution." (quoted from the booklet)

There are also excellent publications like Mission Frontiers (this can be read online or subscribed to) which are amazing resources that open our eyes to the work that God is doing in this world and the ways we can support that work through prayer and support.

Let's step even closer and pray for persons and situations in this world that we are even more familiar with.  Maybe they are issues in our neighborhood that need prayer, missionaries and service workers that have gone out from our churches and communities, the homeless man we see regularly on our streets or the disheveled child being verbally abused by his mother in the grocery store, the children (and their families) that we sponsor through organizations like Compassion International.  Maybe it's a country we've visited or the very country we were born in.

Please take a deeeeeeep breath.  In and out.

I don't mean to overwhelm.  But with these needs before us, how can we afford not to make prayer a very important part of our lives?  And I am talking to myself here as well!!  Brothers and sisters, we are called to pray.  We are called to pray without ceasing.

The Challenge:  Originally, I had intended to challenge us to pray for a half hour (straight) tomorrow.  Now, that seems just piddly.  Let's step it up and commit to praying for a half hour (straight) every day for a week (Friday- Friday) with the goal being to increase it over time.  Write it on your calendar or in your planner as if it's an appointment you have with someone you do not want to disappoint or stand up.  We would never stand up a friend.  Why do we allow ourselves to stand God up?!  Don't just say you're going to do it if you are.  Plan for it.  Look at it in a way that will help you remember and follow through.

This is a daunting challenge for me, but I cannot ignore God's call to prayer and those that need prayer any longer.  I'm committing to do this as well.

If you want to join me, please let me know in the comments below.  Let's hold ourselves and each other accountable in this way.  To God be the Glory!

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstance; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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  1. I had to take that deep breath about two paragraphs before you told us to! Wow. That is information that can really get us down if we let it. Thankfully, we serve a God who is bigger than the statistics. I will commit to devote time in prayer for those suffering throughout the world over the next week.

    I am excited to tell you a dear friend GAVE me the Sonlight grade two core, and the book you were telling us about is in there! :D

  2. Thank you for this precious reminder: our family gladly joins you.

  3. I need to take a very deep breath to commit to a half hour of prayer time every day, but you picked the one verse from day 1 that stood out to me all week. You are right, all the terrible things in the world can be overwhelming, but I agree we need to pray about those things. I'll do my very best!

  4. I was just gonna say something about a old friend and neighbor who used to remind me to pray for political leaders and I read something someone comment on your blog about sonshine-it happens this neighbor used to run a pre-school and I exchanged baby-sitting hours for a chance for my daughter to go to the school-its name was The Sonshine Pre-School"and I always pray for the unfortunate and homeless because my daughter was homeless and than lived in a homeless shelter. but I know we are talking about prayer and someone needs to pray for our leaders -so that start doing the RIGHT things this particular shelter is owed as a investment by some of our political leaders they charged the county $1,000.00 a person to live there so a family of 5-costs more than $5,000.00 to stay!where is there conscious-I only see greed-we need to pray that start getting a conscious.

  5. Great post. Just wanted to share this site for world prayer.

    It goes through every country in a year with facts and points to pray for in each country. Thanks for your blog!


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