I have always loved the thought of visiting foreign lands. My mind is still fresh with memories from my first trip outside of the United States. It was a thrill to minister in Ghana, West Africa and Cairo, Egypt. The faces of little children, beautiful children, remain in my thoughts to this day.
My dad and I had the privilege of traveling to Ammon, Jordan several years ago to help train Iraqi pastors who would go back and start new churches. Part of the joy of the journey is spending time with your travel companions. It was a special thing to be with my dad and best friend for so many days.
Tammy and I will always cherish the opportunity that we had to tour England, Scotland, and Wales with Pastor and Mrs. Sexton. The shoreline at St. Andrews, the castle at Cardiff, and the beautiful sights of the Lake District are with us still. Most of all, walking through so much history and realizing how far a land can drift from the gospel was a lesson all its own.
Every trip is distinct. Every people different. Every culture an adventure. I hope if God will allow me that I can do much more international travel and ministry in the years to come. Recently, it dawned on me how much of this world I will probably never see. 205 different nations are expected to take part in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Our friends and fellow workers at Crown UK are launching a great soul winning effort at the Olympics. The story of Pentecost in Acts 2 is a reminder that when God brings people together from many nations it is an opportunity to send them home with the gospel.
In a very real sense God has brought the world to us. Regardless where you live, you will find immigrants and visitors from many parts of the world. I remember Dr. Frank Sells teaching on the life of Abraham when I was in college. He challenged each of us to pray that God would make us a worldwide blessing (Gen. 12:3). That is a big prayer because this is a big world! And yet we realize what a big God we have and what He is able to do with an individual so small and seemingly insignificant.
A few days ago a friend recommended an old book to me by S.D. Gordon entitled Quiet Talks on Prayer. In it Gordon writes:
“Prayer puts us into direct dynamic touch with the world. A man may go aside to-day, and shut his door, and as really spend a half-hour in India – I am thinking of my words as I say them, it seems so much to say, and yet it is true – as really spend a half hour of his life in India for God as though he were there in person. Is that true? If it be true, surely you and I must get more half-hours for this secret service.”
Suddenly it came so clear. When I pray, I can not only see the throne of God, I can see the world! In His presence I can gain His heart for the whole world. I can visit some foreign lands. I can give missionary offerings through my church that will impact many more countries. But I can pray for every nation. My prayers can go where I cannot!
Gordon went on to write:
“The true follower of Jesus has as broad a horizon as his Master. Jesus thought in continents and seas. His follower prays in continents and seas. This man does not know what is being accomplished. Yes! He does know, too. He knows by the inference of faith.”
Prayer is the only work which the Christian does that has no financial or geographic boundaries. Just days after reading Gordon’s thoughts I came across a book which listed every nation on earth and some of their greatest needs. In our day the resources are no doubt as close as the world-wide web. What will we do with those resources?
Pastor Sexton has for years challenged our church to get acquainted with geography, to adopt a people group, and pray specifically for them. I am trying to spend some time each day praying “in another country.” Choose a nation. Find out something about their spiritual condition. Pray specifically. Remember, that we are not praying for places; we are praying for people.
1. Pray for laborers.
Pray for laborers that are already there. Ask God to strengthen His preachers (2 Cor. 1:8-11; Phil. 1:19-20; Col. 4:2-4; 2 Thess. 3:1). When we pray for the servants of God we have a part in helping all that they will minister to.
Pray for new laborers. Ask God to raise up evangelists, pastors, teachers, and soul winners among their people. Pray especially for children and young people that they would be awakened to the truth.
2. Pray for believers.
God always has a remnant. Pray that God would use those who are in that land who know the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:18-20). They are your brothers and sisters! Intercede on their behalf.
3. Pray for leaders.
Paul makes clear that as we pray for those in authority we are given favor to preach the gospel (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Even in the darkest parts of this world we must remember that “the king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will” (Prov. 21:1). Pray for open doors.
4. Pray for sinners.
Elisha prayed for his servant, “Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see” (2 Kings 6:17). What a powerful prayer! We can pray this for all of those who have been blinded by the devil. If we truly desire for people to be saved then we should pray “that they might be saved” (Romans 10:1).
I can help till the ground in prayer before the seed is sown. I can help water that seed in prayer after it is sown. And I can believe that God will give the increase.
5. Pray for ourselves.
“Here am I, send me” (Isa. 6:8). While we are praying for people thousands of miles away, we must not forget that God wants to use us right where we are. Pray for divine appointments. Pray that God will use you as a faithful witness everywhere He sends you.
Remember that while Cornelius was praying for light, Peter was praying for guidance (Acts 10). Their prayers met at the throne of God and resulted in the opening of the gospel to the Gentiles. Somewhere a man of Macedonia is praying that we will come over and help him (Acts 16:9). God works on both ends. When we pray, we see God’s work.
It is a powerful thought that we can literally pray around the world. Worldwide praying is not “Lord, bless everybody in the whole world.” True prayers are specific prayers. Specific prayers get specific answers.
Perhaps I will never visit the land I prayed for today. Perhaps I will not hear on earth how God answered my prayer. But I believe that I will meet the answers to prayer someday at the feet of Jesus. In this way we all can be “a worldwide blessing.”