Welcome to the first day of our annual Prayer Series! This year, Val’s expanding on each of the different prompts that you’ll find in our prayer journal. Today we’re taking on World & Nation / Community! No journal required to benefit from the practical tips you’ll find here, but if you’d like to check out our 2019 Prayer Journal Collection, click here!
Maybe you are like me and have a hard time hearing about places like the Congo or Sudan. It shatters my little bubble and makes me remember that bad stuff happens around me all the time.
If you’ve got our journal, you might be wondering why we start with the World & Nation. It seems more like a side dish to prayers for ourselves, doesn’t it? And that my friends, is precisely why. I can get super introspective and spend the bulk of my prayer time on prayers for me. The result is a very small world. Little things that shouldn’t be a big deal are. When I zoom out and see the entire world, I begin to appreciate my world instead of getting so deep in the weeds that I fixate on the one blade of grass out of place in my little circle while there are fires and hail storms and famines all around me.
I titled this post “How to pray for the world without getting overwhelmed” because I know that as we start praying for the world, it can get overwhelming quick.
But first, one caveat: There’s a good way and there’s a bad way to protect from overwhelm. Here’s what we aren’t going to do. We cannot say that we don’t want to be bothered with feeling bad so we choose to ignore it all. We cannot prioritize protecting ourselves from 10 minutes of sadness at the cost of being aware and making a difference in another place. If we are feeling overwhelmed, the answer is Jesus, not ignoring the problem. We cannot fight overwhelm independent from God. If we are overwhelmed, that’s a reminder that we need to go to Him, not a sign we need to shut off the world He created.
With that said, we don’t need to drink in the world with a firehose. Here are some tips to pray for the world without getting overwhelmed.
1. Start small.
Do not take on the tragedies of the entire world. Focus on one area. It might be a place that has already captured your heart or your family can decide together. (Check out our Family Prayer Calendar if you’d like to make a habit of prayer for the whole family!)
2. Put your money where your prayer is.
James 2:16 (NIV) says “If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” This does not mean we can’t pray for someone we don’t help physically but this is a reminder to pray for God to do what He’s given us the resources to do.
3. Let it lead to gratitude.
I talk more about this a bit in Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday, but when we have good things, trying to even the scales and find things to complain about so that someone else’s tragedy makes more sense does no good. Let anything you read propel you to gratitude instead of trying to list why your life is tough too.
4. Be selective with your sources.
When our parents were kids, the news came on for an hour a day. They knew about only the biggest things happening around the world. Today, we have dozens of news outlets whose job is to produce 24/7 content. To do that, they have to grab your attention with stories that don’t need all our attention. That’s the downside. For many of us, the more time spent watching this kind of news correlates directly to the amount of anxiety we feel. The good thing is, we have outlets to the things we want to know about in a less terrorizing way. We can sign up for email updates from the missionary who lives in India. We can follow the Facebook group for that group across town. We can listen to the positive radio station that shares 5 minutes of news for every 30 minutes of worship. God calls us to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) and take thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). It’s important that the world doesn’t have final say of what we let in.
5. Share good stories, not just the bad.
We tend to share a lot of warnings and fear-filled stories in what we hope will create awareness to issues around the world. We need to know the truth but are we equally sharing the truth of what God is doing around the world? Are we only sharing the stories that cause people to wonder where God is and don’t share the stories where God showed up in big ways? Sharing the good brings hope. Sharing the good reminds people that it’s worth it to pray because it does change things. Maybe we think sharing the good will make some people think it’s all taken care of and like they aren’t needed, but I bet the bigger response would be motivation and hope to keep progress moving.
One final thought: If you have been blessed, you have been blessed for a bigger reason than to keep it all for yourself. I hope that doesn’t sound harsh! Yes, God is a generous God and cares about us personally and blesses us beyond what we deserve, but we have a lot of good things that we can give away. It is a privilege that God’s given us to be a part of what He’s doing around the world. If we can reframe our thinking, I think we can feel more empowered than overwhelmed when we pray for the world.
What are your best tips for praying for the world and nation?
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NEXT: My Loves / My Family