How do we begin to say prayers of hope for the world? Sometimes, even thinking about praying for our planet can feel intimidating. We might not quite understand the ins and outs of the political situation in a certain country, and sometimes when a problem is so vast, we may not even know where to start. It can seem that prayer is useless in the face of some of the headlines we see in the news, but God still calls us to pray.
Throughout the Bible, God has asked His people to pray for their land, the most famous example being in 2 Chronicles 7:14 where He said; “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
As you pray, remember that we are living in a story of redemption. Reading the news, it doesn’t always feel that way, but God is turning all things back to Him. He is making all things new. Romans 8: 20-21 reads: “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” So, let’s remember that we are not on the final page and that this story is not yet finished. Let’s keep the perspective of heavenly hope while we pray, not that we discount the truly tragic things that happen each day on this planet, but that we never lose sight of the big picture.
1. When We Don’t Know What To Say
In these times, instead of talking, we can just hold a certain nation or situation before God in prayer. Romans 8:26 says: “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” I sometimes just play some music and sit with my journal and pen, and say, “God I give this nation, this tragedy, this political situation to You. I hold it before You and ask that You would move in power. Intervene in this situation.”
As we brood over certain situations, we can ask Him to move us, to speak to us through our tears. I am a great believer in paying attention to our emotions, as is Frederick Buechner, one of my favorite writers. He says: “Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention.” (Whistling in the Dark, you can read the full quotation here). Pay attention. How is God calling you to respond? I took a class in poetry in my final year at university and it was around the same time as the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and my final piece, which was a dress embroidered with my thoughts, became like a prayer. When we pray, we aren’t giving God the answers (He doesn’t need us to), instead we are giving Him a piece of our heart and in exchange, we are gaining His heart for this broken world.
2. Pray Through The Newspaper
A great way to pray for the world is to work your way through a newspaper (keeping your kingdom spectacles on of course). See what takes your eye and what takes your heart and pray through it. Invite God in. The news can be overwhelming, as in our constantly connected world we are flooded with bad news every day but sometimes you may find a particular piece of news that will really move you or capture your heart. Go with this and see where you end up. I have found that journaling, drawing or even writing a poem has helped me to connect with, grieve and pray for another nation or situation.
3. Find Resources
World Vision has some fantastic tips on how to pray for the world. Check out this blog post for some ideas. One idea is to pray through a list of countries, alphabetically.
4. Pray As You Walk Through The World
God has placed us where we live, on this beautiful earth, as His ambassadors. We get to walk, to pray, and to bring that message of hope and reconciliation, just by being present, by knowing Him, and by being in relationship with others. Maybe as you walk the dog, or walk the kids to school, or just as you go about your day, you could pray for your local community? Pray for areas of need, pray for people you see, pray as God leads you. And then just stand back and see if things change.
With all of that in mind, here are four simple prayers of hope for the world today:
1. For Governments
“Father, bring wisdom to the government. Bless their decision-making. Thank You for their service and may they honor You with their choices. Bless this government with life and bless this nation with hope. Amen”
2. For Those Suffering
“Lord, be with those who are suffering now. Be with the homeless, the survivors, the refugees. Be among the grieving. Come close to them. Thank You that you are a Father who knew what it was to lose a Son and You understand the pain of loss. May those who have lost everything find hope in You. Amen.”
3. For Emergency Workers
“Lord, I pray for emergency workers. Give them Your compassion, give them bravery. Protect them, and give them wisdom as they bring help to so many, and as they are first on the scene after tragedy or disaster. Give them peace and wholeness in the midst of their service. Amen.”
4. For The Planet
“Lord, thank you for this wonderful world. Teach us how to care for it. Teach us to be more mindful about the way that we live. Help us to reduce, reuse, recycle, shop small and want less. Show us where we can make a change in our lives to help this precious world to flourish. Amen.”
The Church of England also has a comprehensive list of prayers for the world, which is a great resource.
And to conclude, when we feel like we can’t bear the weight of the world, remember this timely prayer, and give the burden back to Jesus:
‘Give us discernment
To know when to pray, when to speak out,
When to act, and when to simply shut off
Our screens and our devices,
And to sit quietly
In your presence,
Casting the burdens of this world
Upon the strong shoulders
Of the One who
Is able to bear them up.’
(Douglas McKelvey, Every Moment Holy, (Nashville, Rabbit Room Press, 2019, p. 162)
If you’re interested in reading more about prayer, click here for a blog of prayers to start the day.