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One sunny day as I washed dishes, I turned on my television and felt like a dark and heavy cloud interrupted the sunshine. The news was all grim and the world seemed in crisis overload. My spirit became tight. Overwhelmed. Heart-sick.
“Oh, Father,” I prayed. “I wish there was something I could do.” And then I heard it.
“There is,” came the quiet voice. “Stop what you’re doing and pray.”
It was the first time I engaged in what I call “news prayers.” Although I’ve been involved in missions since college days, that day I became a more global Christian. I started listening and became more sensitive to the hurts around the world.
John R. W. Stott wrote in You Can Tell the World, “We need to become global Christians with a global vision, for we have a global God.” Part of that global focus is praying with a global perspective.
The living God is “a missionary God,” Stott said. If we want to have His heart, we will cultivate loving concern for people in all cultures. And out of that loving concern, it should follow that our prayers for them will increase.
How do we cultivate prayers with a global perspective? Six ways come to mind:
1. We start by thinking outside the box—our self-focused box.
“Lord, I really want a new couch.” “Lord, can you help me find a parking space close to the door of Macy’s?” “Lord, I want...”
It’s not that these prayers are inherently wrong. God delights in blessing His children. The problem is these are often the only things we pray about. Preacher and author John Piper says our prayers too often serve as a “domestic intercom” simply to ask for temporal things to make us more comfortable.
Prayer has a much grander scale, and we are invited to pray for bigger things, world-changing things.
2. We begin to seek God’s heart and thoughts.
To pray with a global perspective, we seek to discern what the Lord is doing in the world so we can align our prayers with His purposes.
It’s not always easy, because He is so beyond us in his thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). But we get glimpses of his heart and will in the Bible. Then we observe the world and discover where God seems to be going, and we hop on board with our prayers.
I get God’s perspective on world events in Psalm 2. Our Father sees the foolishness and rebellion of the nations and the world’s leaders, yet His own sovereign rule is never threatened. The world is not out of control; it is under God’s absolute control. He sets up and disposes rulers (Psalm 75:7; Daniel 2:21). He will someday crush all who rebel and reject His offer of mercy; yet today He continues to call to the nations, to invite people to take refuge in Him.
3. We pray “as we go.”
Prayer isn’t just for the prayer closet and church pew. We can pray as we move through our day and God shows us needs both near and far.
We pray for the lady in the checkout line with a crabby child. We pray for the bank teller who seems so depressed. We pray as we pass an accident on the freeway.
And we pray as we watch the news unfold. We pray when a newscast details the families struggling after a bombing incident in Europe. And for the family of the fireman who died battling a wildfire in California. For the young women just discovered in the basement of sex traffickers in Thailand. And even for terrorists brandishing a bloody knife in the Middle East—that their eyes will be opened to the glorious gospel.
We’re always alert and praying with perseverance, especially for believers around the world (Ephesians 6:18).
4. We pray about the battle.
John Piper wrote in Let the Nations Be Glad, “We cannot know what prayer is for until we know that life is war.” He describes prayer as “a wartime walkie-talkie for the mission of the church as it advances against the powers of darkness and unbelief.”
We pray not only about Satan’s attacks in our own lives, but also his assaults throughout the world. Satan has targeted the globe for destruction (1 Thessalonians 3:5) and we see evidences of his evil hand everywhere (Ephesians 6:11-12).
We can’t be lazy in this battle; we must engage. We fight against Satan the same way Jesus did, with the truth of the Word of God (Luke 4:1-12). As we wield the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), we fight or “strive” through prayer on behalf of God’s people everywhere (Romans 15:30; Philippians 1:19; Colossians 4:12).
5. We pray as one kind of mission work.
Paul, in asking us to “strive” through prayer, was saying, “Join me in my mission.” We can come alongside God’s servants and further their mission through prayer.
While most of us can’t be missionaries to other cultures in a physical sense, we can always give and pray. It is this higher view of prayer—understanding it is a high and powerful calling in the family of God—that will make a difference.
We tell missionaries, “I’ll pray for you,” but do we? Do we even know their needs so we can pray with discernment? We pray better prayers when we are aware of needs and potential. Operation World, edited by Jason Mandryk, is a helpful and definitive guide to praying for missions in every nation.
6. We pray for the persecuted church.
Especially dear to my heart is the plight of the persecuted church around the world. We are instructed to pray for those in chains (Hebrews 13:3).
Oh, that our prayers for them were more like their own prayers. They pray they will know God’s hope, be strengthened, remember God’s love, continue to bear fruit with the gospel message, and fearlessly tell others about Jesus (Ephesians 3:18-20). Believing the words of Christ, they even pray for their enemies (Matthew 5:44).
We can pray for their safety and practical needs as well, and organizations like Open Doors and Voice of the Martyrs are an immense help in discovering their needs.
So as I watch the discouraging news these days, I pray. I pray because Jesus told us always to pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1). And I pray because I know the good news—the gospel—is a life changer and ultimately a world changer.
Dawn Wilson and her husband Bob live in Southern California. They have two married sons and three granddaughters. Dawn assists Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth with research and works with various departments at Revive Our Hearts. She is the founder and director of Heart Choices Today, and also publishes LOL with God and Upgrade with Dawn. Dawn also travels with her husband in ministry with the International School Project.
Publication date: August 5, 2016