If you’re like me, change is sometimes the key to keeping my mind and heart engaged. So here are some ideas of ways to pray for God’s work and God’s people around the world. What other ideas would you add?
1. Pray as you eat.
We often associate prayer and fasting. But what about prayer and feasting? Plan an evening of prayer for a particular country or region and research both prayer requests and recipes for that area. Invite a few friends to join you in celebrating God’s work in that place. If you want to focus your research a bit, learn how another people group celebrates their holidays, pick one and celebrate alongside with them, praying as you party.
2. Pray as you don’t eat.
I know of someone who restricted their food spending to a budget of someone at the poverty level in their state as a way to identify with the poor around them. Or you can follow the lead of Scott Bessenecker, InterVarsity’s Associate Director for Missions, who ate alongside the poor of the world for Lent a few years ago.
3. Sign up for prayer letters.
The real stories about what God is doing in real people across the world energize and inspire me! Does your local church sponsor missionaries? Get on their prayer list or subscribe to their blog. Or simply write a mission agency you know of and respect and ask them to connect you with a missionary who writes regular prayer letters.
4. Financially support a missionary.
It’s true that our hearts follow our money. When you give, you will find you’re much more engaged in prayer for that ministry.
5. Expand the prayers you’re already praying.
As you pray for those close to you—emotionally and geographically—extend those prayers to others around the world. Are you praying for someone with a particular illness? Learn about the way that illness, or others like it, affect people around the world. Praying for an issue or situation your church is facing? Pray for churches around the world with similar situations. Praying for finals? Pray for students in other countries as they complete their studies for the year. Let your near prayers make you curious about people far away.
6. Make prayer collage cards.
I cut a piece of cardboard or thick cardstock into 6”x8” rectangles. Then I glue various clippings—from photos, images from newspapers or magazines or prayer letters, etc.—onto the cards. These cards become visual promptings to prayer, easier to scan quickly than those prayer letters.
7. Pray like others pray.
People around the world use various postures, methods and tools in prayer. As you pray for a particular place or people group, why not imitate those prayer methods? Prostrate yourself to pray. Light candles. Recite verses of Scripture. Use prayer beads, etc.
8. Pray as you shop.
Much of the stuff you buy—from your food and clothes, to your gadgets and textbooks—were made or partially produced in another country. Learn about the conditions of workers in those countries and pray for them.
9. Pay attention—and put up a map.
As you read or hear the names of cities, regions, countries around the world, look them up. Find one or two facts about them and pray for those issues. Whether it’s in Bible study or economics class or the Sunday paper, you will find that you are often learning about another part of the world.
10. Build relationships.
The internet has a wealth of information about the world, but nothing can replace hearing first-hand stories from someone you actually know. Make friends with international students, immigrant families, neighbors or colleagues at work from other countries. Pray for these people, for their families and friends, and for the concerns of their home country.
International Fellowship of Evangelical Students
ACT:S, the World Vision activism network