Praying for the world isn’t something reserved for church leaders or missionaries. It should be at the heart of every fellowship, including people of all ages, in large and small groups, and as often as possible. And the power of praying for the world often starts right in your home, in your living room, around your dining table, or at your child’s bedside.
Yes, changing the world through global understanding and prayer can start with your family.
During winter, a lot of snow falls in the mountains of Switzerland. When spring comes there is often a danger of avalanches. Sometimes avalanches have been started by a skier just shouting a few words. It only needs a small amount of snow to be disturbed by that shout, and thousands of tons of snow will soon be thundering down the mountainside. In the same way, a few words spoken to God our Father in Jesus’s name can set off an avalanche of God’s power in any part of the world.
Here are eight ways your family can together start an avalanche of change in our world by learning about and praying for our world.
1. Learn about the World
Go to the library as a family and get books about countries around the world. Find out what people’s lives are like there, who the Christians are in that country, how they worship, and whether they’re persecuted—or the answers to any other questions you and your children might have. Together you can also find lots of interesting stories about missionaries. Some have been written for children. There are plenty of wonderful books about the adventures of missionaries around the world.
Mission organizations also post stories and updates online so you can learn about what they do. They will help you understand more about what it’s like to be a Christian or a missionary in different parts of the world from yours.
You can also find out more about different people groups. Find mission agencies that work in countries where certain people groups live. Ask them about the people groups you are curious about.
2. Watch and Pray
Watch the news, travel programs, or videos about the world on TV or YouTube.
Watch Prayercast videos to pray along with the narrator as you watch a video about a particular country.
Look for pictures of the countries and people you have been learning about. Try to find pictures that show life both in the cities and in the countryside or villages. Try to find pictures that show life for those who are rich and those who are poor. Find pictures of famous landmarks and sites for the country.
Go to the websites of mission agencies working in the countries you’ve been learning about. They have lots of interesting information, prayer requests, and, sometimes, special resources for children and families. Countries often have their own websites to share with the world about all the interesting people and places there.
3. Listen to Music
Almost every country has interesting music, using different rhythms, melodies, instruments, and languages. Often there are dances that go with the music too. You might discover songs you enjoy even more than music from your own country. There is also a lot of good Christian music from other countries.
4. Taste Foods
Try foods or visit food markets from different countries or regions. You’ll be amazed at the variety of flavors and foods. Learn to cook at least one of the dishes you like with your family.
5. Make Friends
If missionaries come to your church, listen to what they say. Ask questions and find out how you and your church or Sunday school class can help them or pray for them. If the missionaries have children, make friends with them, and try to stay in touch while they’re living away.
There may be people in your church or school who’ve recently come from another country. Be a friend to them, and help them to feel at home in their new country. If they’re trying to learn your language, help them. Try to learn how to say a few things in their language too.
If there are people in your neighborhood who’ve recently moved there from another country, get to know them. Maybe they’ll teach you some things about their home country, their religion, or their culture. Perhaps you will have a chance to tell them about Jesus.
Are there Christian churches from other cultures in your own city or town? Visit their church service sometimes and get to know them.
You may know some missionaries who’ve been sent from their home church overseas to help tell people about Jesus in your country. You can pray for them and help them in their work too.
6. Pray Specifically
God wants to share his work with us, and he does this by asking us to pray! Sometimes it’s hard for us to keep on praying, but here are a few ideas to help you.
- Choose seven different topics, countries, peoples, or individuals. Write them down, and pray for one of them each day of the week.
- When you know prayer has been answered, write that down too.
- Get a world map. Mark on it the places you pray for. Add pictures of the people you are praying for.
- There are lots of good ideas online about how kids can pray in fun ways. Search online for “children in prayer” and “kidsprayer.”
7. Give Generously
Missions efforts often have special projects. Find one you really like, and give some of your money to help that project. Your family, friends, or Sunday school class may want to help support a project, and your parents or teachers may have ideas to help you raise money.
Remember that missionaries come from many countries all over the world, not just your own. Most of them need the support of other Christians to pay their way.
Some missionary organizations have summer camps for children where you can have a lot of fun, meet missionary families, and learn about their work. You or your whole family might even be able to visit missionary friends who live in a different culture, to find out what it’s like to be a missionary. Some organizations also have special mission trips for teenagers.
If you take a vacation in another country, pray for the people in that country—especially for those you meet personally. Think about how you could share Jesus’s love with them. Pray for the Christians there. If you can find a church, attend a service with your family. Christians worship God in so many different and interesting ways.
We hope you can encourage and inspire others with what God is doing around the world. We also hope that you’ll be encouraged as a family to know that God is at work and is answering the prayers shared around your very own dining room table.
Molly Wall and Jason Madryk are editors of Window on the World: An Operation World Prayer Resource (IVP).