Over the past few weeks we have watched Ukraine teeter on the brink of civil and regional war. As the conflict escalates, Christians there are begging for fellow believers to powerfully intercede for them at this time of crisis.
How prepared are Western Christians to respond to yet another heart-wrenching plea for prayer from a far-off country in turmoil? Perhaps the seemingly muted response ought to cause us to ask ourselves how to stimulate the intensity of prayer that is needed. Here are some questions to consider:
- Does your church have any kind of conduit for receiving emergency prayer requests like this coming from brothers and sisters of the global church? If so, is there a procedure for moving such requests from the category of “interesting information” to “priority prayer items” for the congregation?
- Are specific global needs regularly mentioned in your church’s corporate prayers? Does the person praying take time in advance to carefully frame what requests they should utter as they lead their people to intercede on behalf of fellow believers or other situations?
- What help does your church provide to individual believers on how to pray for global crisis situations and for their brothers and sisters in places like Ukraine? Do you help them pray biblically?
- What intentional feedback loops do you have in place to communicate back to your people how God has answered their prayers? Developing people’s prayer muscles requires that they often hear how God answers their petitions.
Each of these questions begs to be answered. Let me just suggest one small habit that could start a chain reaction mustering more prayer.
Grace Fellowship Church of Katy, Texas, teaches and models Acts 1:8 praying: In corporate prayer during worship and in every smaller group setting, leaders pray for a local need, a regional need, a national need, and an international need. They challenge their congregation to do the same in personal and family prayer times.
What if more churches adopted this simple habit? It’s easy to think of prayer requests for our local context. But what if churches taught their people to stop and think, “Besides praying for ourselves, what one situation in our region, our nation, and our world today most need my prayer?” It’s not overwhelming, and if it becomes habitual, the congregation’s prayers will focus outward and will ripple all the way to the ends of the earth.