I remember during my early years as a Christian, there used to be all sorts of programs and methodologies for praying for people around the world—all well-intentioned, but also seemingly a bit distanced from the peoples we were all seeking to reach for Christ. You may have experienced this as well. This book has much the same goal as those programs of my youth, but works hard to remove some of that emotional distance.
Brian C. Stiller. An Insider’s Guide to Praying for the World. 288p., $14.99, Bethany House.
Of course, the expected/logical elements are here: an overview of the country or region, a relevant Scripture passage, specific prayer requests, even a suggested prayer. But it’s the additional narratives, showing God at work in each country or region, that make this book stand out. Some narratives are first-hand accounts by the author; others aren’t (such as the miracle of South Africa’s bloodless transition to democracy, and the lesser-known role of prayer in that transition). All of them “put skin” on the message and reinforce the idea: Your prayers aren’t just a nice discipline; they’re essential in helping God’s will to be accomplished throughout the world.
The book has 52 chapters (devotionals), one for each week of the year, to allow you to maintain/internalize your focus. Each chapter runs 4-6 pages a pop, so they can be read in a sitting or throughout a given week. Most chapters focus on a specific country or region; but regularly interspersed are other chapters designed to help you see your prayers through a broader lens—focusing on issues such as caring for the vulnerable, prison ministry, persecution and maryrdom, and empowerment by the Spirit.
I’m certainly going to use this book to reinforce this kind of weakened area in my own prayer life these days, and you could do far worse than to join me.