Welcome to the 31 Days of Global Missions with Kids series! Click here to check out all the posts in the series.
The Reason for Prayer
It can be so discouraging to hear the news from around our globe. The troubles seem never ending: a refugee crisis in the Middle East. Earthquakes and natural disasters. Violence and civil war. Billions of people don’t know or follow the one true God. It certainly feels like something needs to change.
Taking a look at the sin, disaster, and unbelief in the world around us is a reminder that as followers of Christ, we are at war! Through the Holy Spirit, we battle sin, death, and the power of the devil:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:10-12).
I appreciated these words from John Piper’s excellent message Prayer: The Work of Missions:
“Very few people think that we are now in a war greater than World War II, and greater than any imaginable nuclear World War III. Or that Satan is a much worse enemy than Communism or militant Islam. Or that the conflict is not restricted to any one global theater, but is in every town and city in the world. Or that the casualties do not merely lose an arm or an eye or an earthly life, but lose everything, even their own soul and enter a hell of everlasting torment (Revelation 14:9-11).
Until people believe this, they will not pray as they ought. They will not even know what prayer is.
In Ephesians 6:17-18 Paul-makes the connection for us: “Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, with all prayer and supplication, Praying on every occasion in the Spirit, and keeping awake for this with all perseverance.”
Prayer is the communication by which the weapons of warfare are deployed according to the will of God. Prayer is for war.” (I recommend reading or listening to Piper’s entire message here).
So, we gear up with the armor of God, and we as we participate in this global spiritual battle, we pray.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always put this into practice. It’s easy for me to consider prayer as a last resort rather than a first priority, both in reference to my own life and to the needs of our world as a whole.
But, I know prayer is so critical to God’s mission to redeem the whole world!
So I thought through some practical ideas to actually make prayer happen, especially prayer for the whole world.
Operation World & The Joshua Project: 2 Resources for Regular Prayer for the World
There are two wonderful resources for family prayer for all nations:
We own the book and like having it sitting on the kitchen table as a physical reminder. The book has a schedule so you can pray for every nation over the course of the year. Or, you can just start with A and work your way through the book.
Second, the Joshua Project is a partner site with Operation World, specifically focusing on prayer for unreached people groups.
An unreached or least-reached people group is “a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group” (from the Joshua Project web site). Typically this means there are 2% or less evangelical Christians and 5% or less professing Christians among the people group.
The Joshua Project highlights an “unreached people group of the day” on their web site and also has a free app highlighting an unreached people group of the day with simple information, a photo, and ways to pray.
I encourage you to consider checking out Operation World and the Joshua Project, and choose one resource to use in the days to come… order the book, download the app, sign up for emails, or whatever works best for you.
So you’ve gotten the resource… now what?
- Choose a time and place for daily prayer for all nations. At the breakfast table after you’ve eaten? In bed before your kids fall asleep? In the car on the way to school? Having a regular time and place will help make this a habit.
- Have a world map or globe accessible so you can find today’s location.
- Don’t feel like you need to read all the information provided, especially if you have young children involved. Just share a fact or two, determine a specific prayer need, and then pray together.
- Lead your children in prayer, allowing them to pray if desired. Again, don’t feel like this needs to last forever! Just a minute or so (or even less!) is fine! I would aim for making this a habit of praying briefly every day, rather than a lengthy prayer only every once and a while.
More Ideas for Global Missions Prayers
Choose one nation or people group and pray for it for a week, month, or year. The resources above will guide you through praying for many countries or people groups. Alternatively, you could just choose one area to focus on for an extended period of time.
I know there are people who choose a “word” to focus on each year. Why not a people group, too? This would give you a chance to really get to know this particular culture, looking up information on the internet or in books, praying for ongoing needs, and focusing on this people.
If you choose a small nation, can you believe that your family or group might be the only people in the whole world praying consistently for that nation? What an honor!!
Read the world news and pray about it together. Older children and teenagers can read and discuss world events with you. As you hear about natural disasters, political events, wars and violence… look up the location on the map, talk about the situation, and pray for the people affected.
Unfortunately, our American media doesn’t typically devote much coverage to world events, so the BBC World News is probably the best resource for finding accurate global news coverage.
Alternatively, theSkimm provides a fun daily news email for adults and typically includes some news beyond our own country. (I’ll warn you, though, that sometimes they’re a little inappropriate, and I don’t always love their “slant” on the news… but it is a simple, entertaining way to get the news straight to your email inbox. I’d recommend this just for yourself to read the news and summarize for your kids – not something to share with them directly).
Eat and pray together. At the end of the month, I’ll be sharing a new resource in the Faith Passed Down shop called Around the World from Your Living Room. It will provide a simple outline for five different times of prayer for a different nation. First you’ll share a meal together with food from that country, then do a craft or game together, then pray together for that particular nation.
Go on a prayer walk. Do you have a multi-ethnic neighborhood in your community? Or perhaps a city park that features a giant globe or map? Maybe your city has an annual international food fest, with booths representing many different countries?
Use this as a chance to pray for the world. With your children, walk around this area, and as you walk, pray aloud. This may feel super awkward at first. Just pray as though you’re talking – in fact, someone looking at you wouldn’t realize you are praying… you would just look like you’re having a conversation.
Pray for the people you see. Pray for the countries represented by each of the booths at the food fest, or gather at a giant map and pray for a few minutes for the countries you notice.
Of course, make this a fun experience for your kids! After a few minutes of prayer, play at the park or stop for a treat on the way home, or get a snack at the food fest.
Gather missionary prayer cards, cards from your sponsored kids, or even just cards highlighting countries in the world. Tuck them into a small 4 x 6 photo album (often available at the dollar store), turn them into a heart garland, hole punch the corner and tie with a ribbon, or just throw them in a basket. Each day, choose one and pray. This would be fun for even young children to feel like they are involved, since they could select who to pray for.
You could simply spin a globe and put your finger down, and pray for the closest country. It’s not very systematic, but would be fun! 🙂 (Look up the country in Operation World for a more “informed” prayer.)
A few more resources…
- The Voice of the Martyrs has a free prayer for the persecuted church app.
- Here are some ideas for 30 Ways to Pray for Missionaries (you could aim for one each day of the month) or 52 Ways to Pray for Your Sponsored Child (one a week.)
- Compassion also has a specific prayer calendar for each month.
Daily prayer for the nations is wonderful. Vital. 100% necessary.
But, you will fail.
In fact, you will fail because it is so necessary.
In our family, we notice that whenever we set forth to do something significant for God’s kingdom, like prayer for the nations, that is the very moment when we encounter spiritual resistance. We’re tired. Our kids misbehave. My husband and I argue. We get sick. And so we set aside the prayer guide and give up and forget about this significant, honorable task God has given us.
When that happens, be encouraged. Don’t give up! Remember the grace of Christ as you seek to follow Him. He’s not condemning you for missing a
day week month of prayer for all nations… He’s delighted that you are beginning the task anew!
I believe that His words to Paul are true for all of us: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
So keep going! Rely on His perfect power to keep going even in weakness. Let’s join our kids in the vital work of prayer for all nations.