At least once each month, I want to encourage you with a practical step in pursuing a life of prayer. Today, I want to talk about how you can pray globally.
What does this mean, and how does it look? Well, it means making a concerted effort to pray for different places, people groups, and issues around the world. How you do that may look very different from how I choose to do it, but I’ll give you a peek into my method. You can tool around until you find what works for you.
I mentioned in a previous post that I once found a commercially-produced “Prayer Journal” on sale at a Christian Bookstore. It was a marvelous book with a world mission focus. Each week, there was a short discussion of a different “at-risk” people group. There was information about the region(s), the population, the average life expectancy, the literacy rate, the estimated percentage of Christians (as well as percentages for other religions) in the area, and more. There were suggestions about how to pray for the people/area, and then space to write notes and other prayer requests. I have never again found such a resource in a bookstore, but I decided to make my own journal.
My journal takes up four notebooks– one for each quarter of the year– roughly ninety-two days in each notebook. Each day has a heading with a geographical location: a continent, a nation, a state or province, a city or town, even major rivers, deserts, and oceans. (In addition, I have space for the names of individuals with birthdays or anniversaries, and a space for urgent and immediate prayer requests for that day. In the front of the journal, I have a list of “Prayer Points” for the various days of the week– you can check out my page on Prayer Points here Proactive Prayer Points. The notebooks can be used from year to year, and have space on the back of every page to record answers.)
I don’t have the marvelous demographic information that was in the earlier journal, but I have an almanac or the internet if I want to dig deeper. In putting the notebooks together, I alphabetized all the names of places I wanted to include, narrowed the list down to 365, and assigned one place to each day of the year. Yesterday, I prayed for Fennville, a small town in Michigan where I used to be a student teacher. Today is Fiji, which comes next alphabetically. So I will be praying for Fiji, along with other people, places, and issues on my list. I may not know a lot about Fiji- I know it is an island republic in the South Pacific. I know that many Fijians are Christian, while others are Muslim or Hindu. But God knows everything about this group of islands– He knows if it is the rainy season there now, or if the people are battling sickness or poverty, or if they are in a season of clear skies and abundance!
So WHY do I recommend praying for Fiji (and all the other nations of the world, as well as major cities and even deserts?) Why Global Prayer?
- First, it is Biblical, and it is a step in obedience. We are to “go into all the world” to preach the gospel (Mark 16:15). So we should also pray “into all the world”– pray for those who are going to other nations; pray for those who need to hear the Gospel in other nations; pray for those who are going FROM there into all the rest of the world. “For God so loved the WORLD…” (John 3:16). And so should we. Whether we can travel or not; whether we can study all the needs and factors of each nation or area or not, we should remember them in prayer.
- Second, it will change your prayer life. I believe it makes my prayer life richer and more effective. Once again, it takes my focus off of me and lifts it to the God who holds the whole world in His Hands. I’m not just praying to “my” Father– I’m praying to “Our” Father. He loves me, and He listens to me, but He is big enough, powerful enough, and compassionate enough for the entire world! Once I acknowledge that, it changes the way I approach prayer.
- It also is a great way to learn about the world and about other people and cultures! Imagine meeting someone from Fiji, and being able to say, “I have prayed for your homeland!” Imagine how much joy it can bring to pray for those places that have special meaning to your family and friends. I haven’t traveled the world, but I have met people from many countries. I’m still waiting to meet someone from Fiji, but if I do, I will have even more joy in praying for it next year on this day!
- It brings discipline to my prayer life. Sure, I feel an urgency to pray for “hot spots” around the world– wars and famine, political upheaval and natural disasters call to mind certain areas of the world for prayer. But praying for an area without such prompts requires that I have some system in place. And who knows what God’s plans are for any given region on any given day, or what needs may arise that I can’t know about in advance?
So HOW can you pray Globally? I can recommend a few first steps:
- Make a list. Maybe start with a single week. List seven locations– nations, cities, even continents or oceans (there are seven continents and “seven seas” after all). Perhaps you want to list places both near and far– local towns or villages AND faraway lands–over the course of a month or even a year.
- Set up a system–you may want to use a notebook, planner, or calendar. Or you may want to set up a database. Your system can be set up weekly, monthly, yearly— whatever will work for you.
- Be flexible and persistent. It has taken me nearly 20 years to settle on a system that truly works for me. Don’t be afraid to make changes or say “no” to a system just because it works for someone else.
- Pray about it!
- Resolve to DO IT. Many years, I spent so much time trying to “perfect” my system that I neglected to do the actual prayer! Please don’t let this happen to you. And don’t let guilt or impossible expectations keep you from your pursuit. Even if you take a step backward, forget a day, stumble through a week– Keep going!
- Thank God for the opportunity to pray for others. Thank Him for loving the whole world (including you)! Praise Him for being a God who watches over every grain of sand and every drop of water in the oceans, over every bird of the air, and every precious life!
Imagine what can happen in our world if even a few of us are faithful in praying for all of us?! God is giving YOU an opportunity to be involved in HIS work throughout the world. Will you pray for Fiji today? Who can you pray for tomorrow?