Thursday, December 29, 2011

A 365 Day Global Prayer Journey - Praying through Operation World in 2012

At the end of his challenging and convicting book Radical, pastor David Platt challenges the church in America to commit to a five-pronged experiment for the next year:
  • To pray for the entire world
  • To read through the entire Word
  • To commit our lives to multiplying community
  • To sacrifice our money for a specific purpose
  • To give our time in another context                            (Source:
Whether you've read Radical or not (and I do recommend it!), chances are if you have been a Christian very long and have sat under sound teaching, you've been challenged to at least a couple of these areas. Some of these areas will be profoundly personal and unique to your current situation; I do encourage you to find a Bible reading plan that works for you (download a Bible app or get daily emails if you are so inclined); seek God for the church He would have you commit to; for the places He wants you to give your money; and the context in which He would have you serve that is not native to you.

But today, I want to talk about a radical new adventure regarding the first challenge: Praying for the whole world

Does the thought of praying for the whole world in a year overwhelm you? Like many of us, you may have had failed starts. You might own a copy of a book, follow a website, or subscribe to a prayer group and find yourself falling behind and getting discouraged about effectively praying for the world. Or, you may look at all the facts and figures and issues and prayer emphases and just get overwhelmed by the "forest" and not know how to pray for the "trees". Let's face it: Operation World is a really, really big book. It can be hard to digest.

Let me encourage you today: You are not alone! We all struggle with feeling overwhelmed at the needs around us, and when God opens our eyes to His global purposes we sometimes get even more overwhelmed. However, I'm fully convinced that pressing through is worth it. I'm equally convinced based on Scripture that there is power in united prayer and that we are placed within the body of Christ in part to help each other perservere in the things God calls us to do.

And that's where I hope an idea I believe God has placed on my heart will connect with your desire to pray.

I would like to invite you to join me in praying through Operation World in 2012. Not just on our own, but together, through this blog. Interested? Read on for more about what this prayer journey will look like.

The Goal: Mobilize the church to pray through Operation World as a tool to get God's heart for sharing the good news of Jesus to every tribe, tongue, nation, and people group - resulting in a global band of worshippers glorifying God now and for eternity.

What we'll do: Every day as the Lord wills, I'll write a blog post and make it "live" at 12:01 a.m. Central time. That way it will be available for almost anyone during their morning quiet times. For those participants who are on the other side of the world, it will hit later in the day, but still on the same date. Anyone will thus be able to access the page at least once during the given date. (This means, of course, I will always have to be one day ahead of you all, but I'm sure God will count my prayers with yours for each day :) ).

Each blog post will break down a section of Operation World into a manageable chunk. There are a few single-prayer-day smaller countries, but for the most part OW spreads out countries over at least 2 days, often most. (Days 1-11, for example, are "The World", followed by continents.) I'll simply share how the Lord is leading me to pray that day for that particular section of OW, and you can share your prayers in the comments as the Lord leads.

Additionally, as God guides and time allows, I will include devotional thoughts and Biblical prayer suggestions. I also hope to include information about missions and God's global work, especially to help bridge the gap between the "missions lingo" that is often used in excellent works like OW, but which can feel like a foreign language even to faithful churchgoers. We may discuss some larger questions like contextualization and Bible translation as those issues come up in the prayer guide that OW has provided.

What you'll get from me is a straightforward approach to praying through OW. Through this blog I'll invite you into a portion of my quiet time. The prayers I write here will be the prayers I pray for a given day's section of OW. If my schedule prevents me from blogging or even praying for the OW section for a given day, I'll be honest about that. If I ask you to watch a video or journal about something, you can be sure that I've done that first. We truly are on this journey together.

What you'll need:
A copy of Operation World, 2010 edition. There really is no way around this one. It would be wrong, plus a serious violation of copyright, for me to post here every OW prayer request for each day. While I will refer to them in the post, and quote as needed to make a point, the daily posts will always be a tool to support your praying through OW. This will not take the place of the book. (Don't worry if you don't have one yet - the first 11 days are for "The World" in general, so you can easily order today and have the book by the time we hit specific countries.) I use the paperback edition, so my page numbers will reflect that source.

A Bible. You'll find that I'll frequently use Scripture references in prayers, because I love to pray Scripture. I encourage you to have a Bible handy for your own prayer time.

A method of accessing the daily posts. If you're like me, by January 10 you'll forget to come here and check the blog, so I encourage you to set up a system that works for you. A few ideas:
- Make the blog your home page
- "Follow" the blog through your Google/Gmail account
- Join the Facebook group A 365 Day Global Prayer Journey - Praying through Operation World in 2012. (I'll post each blog onto that page, but it will not be at midnight when this blog auto-posts. So if you have an early quiet time, you won't want to depend on the FB page.)
- Set up the blog in your RSS feed within your email account.
- Request that I add you to the list of individuals who receive an email when I upload a new blog post (very limited number of slots, so please request this only if no other option works for you on a daily basis).

Suggestions: If you have a particular passion for an issue, missions organization, etc., feel free to incorporate that into your prayers. For example, if you have a desire to pray for the persecuted church, then when you pray each day, just incorporate any information you have about the persecuted into your daily prayer. When we pray for Afghanistan, pray for the persecuted church there. If you have names from Voice of the Martyrs, pray for them when we pray for their country. In this way your global prayer time is maximized and you begin to see themes that God consistently puts on your heart.

Feel free to personalize each day's prayer points. If you know someone from India, and want to pray for him or her when we pray for India, feel free to do that! Anything that can make the big task of praying for the world manageable can be a helpful tool. Just remember when posting comments that we don't all have equal passions for every region or issue -- I believe that God "spreads out" pieces of His heart for the world, because the burden would be too great for one person, one prayer group, one church, or even one country, to bear alone. He needs the whole church, taking the whole Gospel, to the whole world -- but often that is accomplished one little piece at a time. So don't feel guilty if one person posts passionate prayers for Nepal, while you struggle to remember where it is located. In time, God will let you see what part of His heart He has given you, and how you fit into the cause of His global purposes.

Please always keep in mind that the blog and Facebook page are both PUBLIC, not secret. Therefore, use wisdom when sharing your prayers - we don't want to put anyone at risk by posting full names and specific locations.

Most importantly, there is NO condemnation here! If you miss a day, or two, or a week or a month, you can always jump back in. The goal is to make the task manageable and see what God does when we do this prayer journey together.

Further resources: Here are some great optional resources that may fuel your prayers.
Prayers for the Faithful - Scripture-based prayers for missionaries
Praying God's Word - A good resource to help you learn to pray Scripture, through personal application and practice
Operation World Partners for Prayer - Other sites that partner with Operation World to facilitate prayer for the nations

Okay, ready? Me neither!! I'm taking a deep breath because I've never blogged 365 days in a row before. While I'm just finishing praying through OW for the first time this year, I've never shared those prayers on a consistent basis with others. Trust me, I'm just as nervous as you ... and just as excited. I trust God is going to do great things through this group over the next year. I look forward to getting to know you if the Lord leads you to comment.

I feel led to pray John 1:5 as the focal verse for this year's prayer journey:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

We'll learn about some dark things this year. Remember, the light of Christ has already come, and as His followers we have that light to take to the world. We'll be doing that in part through our prayers. The darkness will never overcome the light!

Ready ... Set ... PRAY!

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