Last week I wrote about how prayer is the first thing we should think about when faced with a world in need of a Savior. Then the obvious next question is, what should we pray for?
The Bible gives us some great suggestions…
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matt. 9:37-38)
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you….” (Matt. 5:44)
“I urge… that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Tim. 2:1-3)
There is another resource that helps us know exactly how to pray for the world. Operation World is a prayer almanac. It lists every country on earth, along with the kind of information we need to target our prayers effectively: What are the dominant religions? How many believers are there in this country? What people groups live there? What about their politics, economy, education? What specific issues should we pray for?
Operation World is published every ten years, and a new edition was just released in late October. It’s widely available, both online and in bookstores. There is also an electronic version, which will be available from Global Mapping International any day now.
If you have kids (or know anyone else who does), be sure to get them a copy of Window on the World, by Daphne Spraggett with Jill Johnstone. Designed to be an Operation World for children and families, this wonderful book is a great resource for parents raising the next generation of world Christians. The only drawback is that it was published in 2001. A new version is in the works, but it won’t be available for a while yet.
When our own two daughters were small, they had the precursor two-volume set, You Can Change the World. One of my daughters recently told me that she still has vivid memories of reading those books, with their colorful illustrations and information about all the peoples of the world. Her heart was so touched for the peoples of the world that she eventually majored in anthropology!
Finally, while you are waiting for your book to arrive, consider visiting the “Operation World – Pray Today” website. Every day provides information for a specific nation, similar to what is in the book.
For example, the country for today, November 2, is Togo. You can learn that the dominant tribes are the Kwa and the Gur. Togo has a great demand for Christian literature but that the literacy rate is only 52%—so it’s good that the Jesus film has been shown extensively on film and on TV. There is “a significant evil trade in children who are ‘exported’ to other lands for the sex industry.” This may be partly because 80% of the population survives on subsistence agriculture while earning less than a dollar a day. Just reading this makes me want to stop and pray for Togo!
Since there are fewer than 365 nations, you might wonder what you are to pray for during the rest of the year. The entire month of January is devoted to prayer for larger geographic entities—the entire world, and then each continent/region. Also, some nations are given more than one day, especially if the prayer topics are complicated. (The United States is featured for six days!) Finally, there are days where, instead of a specific country, the prayer topic is something like “Christian Radio,” “Relief and Development,” or “Student Ministries.” They make sure you’ll have plenty to pray about!
I recently blogged about David Platt’s new book, Radical. He urges believers who are serious about their faith to lift up their eyes and see what God is doing in the rest of the world. Operation World is an ideal tool for doing just that. With your Bible in one hand and a copy of Operation World in the other, you can impact the world from your knees.