For some of us, praying for the world comes as naturally as breathing. Others of us grew up far more used to analyzing world events, or worrying about them, or ignoring them completely. But to share God’s work in the world means to also share His prayers for the world. Whether you are new to this kind of prayer, or are hoping to deepen your world prayers, we invite you to join us on this Journey into World Prayer.
Like all good journeys of discovery, the steps are intended to be taken slowly, trying each one for a few weeks or a few days, listening closely for the joy of God praying within you as you go through the journey.
Start by knowing yourself: Which news do you notice? Local, national, international…? What issues tug at your heart? What makes you angry, or leaves you feeling powerless or afraid? When do you want to ignore the news completely? How do you pray?
Pray for the disasters of the world: the victims of floods, volcanoes, earthquakes, airplane crashes, epidemics, crime waves. Countries devastated by war. Those who died, those left homeless or hungry or without those they love. Pray for safety and peace.
Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. But how can we love them, if we don’t even pray for them? Pray for tyrants, dictators and oppressors; abusers, criminals, the careless and the depraved. Pray for those we despise. Trust God to love them, too, with all His heart.
In every catastrophe there are those who stand out as heroes and rescuers. But there are also millions of unsung heroes. Plus those who never get involved in violence or crimes, and ones who hear the news and renew their commitment to oppose all that is hurtful or degrading. Give thanks and rejoice!
After the Holocaust in Nazi Germany, this was found on a scrap of paper: “…O Lord…remember the fruits we have bought thanks to this suffering–our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart…” In the midst of disaster, look for God’s grace.
We hear about them. At summit meetings. Taking over a country. Plotting wars, pleading for peace. Leading an economic recovery, weaving religion into public life. Political leaders, heads of major corporations, scientists, leaders of our faiths. All wisdom is yours, Lord. Show it to them.
Even as we pray for leaders, let us not forget ordinary people. Children at play. Workers, rich and poor alike. Newly-weds and those long-married. The elderly. The garbage-collectors and farmers and those who work in stores. Pray for all the small joys and sorrows of all people in daily life.
It’s time to start noticing the gaps in the news. Last year’s headline issues and disasters–what’s happening now? The famine that’s been going on so long, “feeding stations” are taken for granted. The countries that never make it into our news. Open our eyes, Lord, to pray where only your heart sees.
Often it’s the visual images in the news that really haunt us. Choose one such image–and keep that person beside you. Sitting next to you in church and at the communion rail.. Sharing your Bible study. Kneeling with you for bedtime prayers. What does the Word of God sound like to your friend?
Our daily lives often interfere in our intent to pray. But those “distractions” themselves can become pointers to prayer. Consider drought and floods for example. Could you let every drop of water you drink or see or touch, every baptismal moment, be a prayer for God to heal the hurting earth?
To pray with God’s heart means to match prayers with action. To let the love you know, spread forth. As you give gifts to those you love, or as you engage in things you delight to do, can you give a gift of matching value to those in need? Just think about it–you’ll know if this is something you’re supposed to do.
As we journey deeper into prayer, we come to know this is not just something we do alone, but a circle of communion stretching out across the world. Offer your prayers for the world aloud in prayer groups and in church, inviting others to share this journey with you. Lord, open our lips, and our mouths shall proclaim your praise!