Praying for the World
How does one pray for the world?
Karl Barth, the Swiss theologian, is said to have advised young preachers 'to take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.' Seems like good advice for preachers. The Bible guides and nurtures Christian disciples. It is history, law, prophecy, wisdom and much more. And the news media keeps us current with what is happening near and far.
I think it is good advice for praying people, too. We want to align our spirits with God’s way and wisdom as we receive and interpret the daily news. God’s word instructs us to love not only our family and fellow believers but distant nations and enemies, too. For God Himself so loved the world…He gave His only Son. We cannot choose to ignore the world’s peoples or their pain.
I sometimes pray in concentric circles. First, for those close to me: family and friends. Next, I move out to another circle: those I know who are sick or suffering in some way, facing surgery or enduring treatments, or grieving some kind of loss. Then, I move wider to pray for our country and our leaders. In an election year, such prayers seem more urgent, but our leaders always need prayers for wisdom and courage. Finally, I move wider still and pray for events, people and nations around the globe.
Today, the conflict between ISIS and Iraq captures my attention. The move to re-take the city of Mosul will displace thousands of people, some of whom may soon become refugees in need of our compassion and prayers. I also pray for Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. I pray for the church in Central Asia. I remember the underreported conflict in Ethiopia where students have been gunned down and roads are closed. And I pray for believers in Sudan and South Sudan where armed conflict has resumed. I could go on. Many nations are under duress or are led by authoritarian despots. We pray for freedom for the people and for leaders whose hearts would seek to serve the best interests of their nation.
I often turn to the Psalms to guide me when I pray. Psalm 67 reminds us that God seeks to be praised and worshipped by all peoples. In Psalm 24, we learn that everything belongs to God. Psalm 91 assures us that God is our refuge and extends to us protection, deliverance and hope.
Jesus taught us to pray, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done. Let us not grow weary prevailing in prayer. Yes, prayer can be a struggle and a contending against fear, evil, hatred and unrighteousness. Our God hears His people and invites us to turn to Him again and again.
Pray for the world. May the Lord’s name be praised.
Grace and Peace,
Richard L. HaneyExecutive Director