Watching the news often makes me feel pretty uncomfortable.
Another terrorist attack. Another natural disaster. Another war. Bombarded by a seemingly endless stream of bad news, it can be difficult to do anything but despair. The magnitude of suffering seems so insurmountable, the darkness so impenetrable, that it often seems easier – sensible, even – to simply switch off and stuff cotton in our ears to escape the hopelessness of it all.
But what would happen if we started seeing every piece of news as an opportunity for prayer?
Martin Luther famously claimed that,
“Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance. It is laying hold of His willingness.”
Prayer is a dialogue in which we get to know the heart of God. When we get to know Him as a relentlessly loving Father who works tirelessly for the good of His people, when our hearts are broken for the things that break His, our perspective on everything changes – including what we see in the news.
Our God is not some apathetic deity who is far off and removed from our brokenness and suffering. He is a Father who longs for the whole of creation to be made whole, to restore all things to Himself, whose desire is for “everyone to be saved and to understand the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4, NLT).
Prayer, then, is an opportunity to partner with our Father in heaven to direct history on our knees as we call upon Him to bring His Kingdom to earth.
How, then, can we pray for the situations we see in the news?
An answer comes in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:18, NLT). That seems like a difficult task. Often, I can barely manage for five minutes in prayer; praying “at all times” seems impossible!
To help us do this, Brother Andrew suggests that “the daily news can provide significant content for prayer.” In other words, we can use the news as a springboard to pray for “all believers everywhere.” When we hear the news, we can use it as an opportunity to pray.
To help us do this, he suggests that we ask two questions when we encounter a news story. Firstly, “Is there a church in the country?” The answer to this will almost certainly be “yes”- even in most predominantly Muslim countries there has been a living and active church for over two millennia.
Secondly, we can ask, “How will this news affect the church?” Natural disasters, political changes, conflicts, and poverty will inevitably affect Christian believers as much as it will the rest of the population. In many cases, we will hear news that explicitly affects the church – such as attacks that directly target Christians for their faith.
We often make prayer much more complicated than it has to be. As we pray for the world around us, and for our persecuted family in particular, Jesus encourages us to pray the simple words, “Your Kingdom come; your will be done.” The cry of our Father’s heart is “Let my people go” (Exodus 8:1). We can come to him simply, humbly, as his children, knowing that what we ask the Father in Jesus’ name, he will do for His people (John 14:13).
So, as we watch the news and mourn for our broken world, we do not lose hope. Far from despairing, let us see every story and circumstance as an opportunity to call upon our Father in heaven, laying hold of his willingness to make His name known across the earth. We live in hope and pray for the day when the Kingdom comes to earth in its fullness, when God reigns here in love and justice; that promised day where God “will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Revelation 21:4, NLT).
This post is part of our series encouraging us to stand alongside our persecuted brothers and sisters, curated by Open Doors UK.