Ever since I was a boy, I have been fascinated with the planet that we live on. I remember as a child, my father’s friend moved to be a missionary in Brazil. Each night before we went to bed we would pray for him, and the people he loved and served. As I grew older, I read stories of explorers in Africa – I was fascinated about the diversity and breadth of the world that God has created.
“THIS IS WHAT THE LORD SAYS… ‘I AM THE ONE WHO MADE THE EARTH AND CREATED PEOPLE TO LIVE ON IT.WITH MY HANDS I STRETCHED OUT THE HEAVENS. ALL THE STARS ARE AT MY COMMAND.’”
– ISAIAH 45:11-12
There are over 7.5 billion individuals living on our planet. People who live, act and interact in a multiplicity of ways. Our earth is diverse – culturally, ethnically and politically. At any given time there are crises and pain; joy and hope; stories which uplift us and stories that bring us down.
Faced with the vastness of our world and the number of things that happen within it, feeling overwhelmed is one of the main challenges we face when we begin to pray for the world – “It’s too big”, “There are too many problems”, “I can’t pray for them all”, “Will God even hear my prayer for the world?”
So, faced with 7.5 billion people and 196 countries, how do we start to pray for the world?
Start somewhere. Not with a desperate passion to pray for everything all at once – start small. Ask God to put a country on your mind. Perhaps a nation you’ve read about; or a news story that pops up in your social media feed.
Start with one nation; one that stirs your heart or catches your attention.
Then, research your chosen country – find out who lives there; and what the land looks like. What are the challenges? What are the blessings? What’s good? What’s bad?
Step two – find out if there are churches that are working there; and pray for them. See if there are mission organisations there; search out their prayer points.
Finally, commit to prayer. Pray for the leaders; pray for the economy of the land; pray for the weather; pray for people; pray for the challenges; pray for the blessings.
Our prayers matter – wherever you are, your prayers could change the destiny of a nation.
Then we need to be persistent, to keep praying – you could pray for a nation for your entire life. Of course there will be moments when you feel nothing is changing; but your persistent and persevering prayer could have a world-changing impact. A wise man once said to me, “For every history that is seen, there is always a secret history” and I guarantee that people who pray are part of the secret history of our planet.
I met a man once who had lived on the East German side of the Berlin wall and we were in a youth gathering in what had become unified Germany. He said to me, “This is the sort of meeting I used to pray about when I was behind the wall.”
No one will know his name -he won’t go down as a great politician or great world leader; he was just a man who prayed.
Did his prayers change the world? I would say they did. Because when we learn how to pray for the world, we learn how to change it.
by Brian Heasley