Justin Taylor recently asked David Platt about praying for people in other parts of the world. Platt is the preaching pastor at The Church at Brook Hills in Alabama, and his answers are helpful in getting my mind wrapped around how I can train myself to be a "world Christian."
To help me remember these suggestions, I turned a section of Platt's comments into an outline and added headings. These are answers to the question, How we can pray for the world in an informed way?
1. Learn specifics about the nations you're praying for,
- a. By reading about them: "One of the recommendations I make in the book is to use Operation World because of its tremendous help in this area. There is no other book outside the Bible that has impacted my own prayer life more than Operation World. God has used it to teach me how to pray for the church and the lost with specific needs in specific nations. So first, I would recommend using Operation World (either buy the book or use the free online version)."
- b. By living among them: "On a whole, the more we learn about the world, the more we will be able to effectively pray for the world. So I would recommend going to websites like the Joshua Project and learning about unreached peoples . . . and then praying for them. Look at international news websites and then pray through the headlines that are listed there. Above all, go into international contexts and meet individuals, families, and churches, and then your prayers for “the entire world” will become all the more personal, and in a sense, all the more powerful."
- "Another recommendation I would make is to use the prayers of Paul in the New Testament (as well as his requests for prayer) as we pray for the advancement of the Gospel in the world today. Paul tells us how to pray for missionaries in texts like Romans 15:30-33. He shows us how to pray for the church in other contexts in places like Colossians 1:3-14 or Ephesians 1:15-23 and 3:14-21. These Pauline prayers are excellent guides for praying for the nations."
I've also found Voice of the Martyrs to be helpful in this regard. They provide a number of resources designed to create awareness of the needs of the persecuted church, including a blog, a "prisoner alert" system, and ways for individuals and local churches to get involved.