How many people are in the world today? The best estimates place the number around 7.8 billion. With that in mind, consider this verse:
First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone.1 Timothy 2:1
Read that last word again: Everyone. Sound daunting? It should.
One of the weaknesses of our prayer lives is that often our prayers are too narrowly focused. We pray for what is right in front of us and what is currently happening in our lives. Let us not belittle such prayers. The current events of our lives do need prayer.
But, if that is the primary focus of our prayer life, then we need to expand our horizons.
But, how can we pray for 7.8 billion people?
Obviously, we can’t pray for that many people individually by name, but we can do things such as:
Pray for entire people groups. “People groups” are populations that share a mix of ethnic, linguistic, cultural, and/or geographical (and similar) traits. It is estimated that over 16,500 people groups exist in the world today. Of these, approximately 6700 are unreached, meaning they have little to no access to the good news of Jesus. Some of these groups are only a few hundred persons in size, some are tens of millions.
Through information and tools on websites like joshuaproject.net, you, your family, and your church can pray for entire peoples. There are a variety of ways you can do this. You can choose to pray for an unreached people group every day. You can pray for one every week. You can choose to “adopt” a single people group and pray for them for an entire year. However you choose to do so, you are praying with a global focus in mind.
Pray for governments and governmental figures. In fact, this is the very next verse in 1 Timothy 2. We pray that presidents, dictators, kings and queens, and other governmental authorities would value all people within their nation; govern with wisdom, justice, and equity; and strive for peace both within their borders and without. Such leads to “tranquil and quiet lives” that helps people spread the gospel and love their neighbors so they might “be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (2:2-4).
Pray during world crises and other global events. The pandemic of 2020 is a prime example of this. The world has been in crisis which has led us to pray for healing, peace, and comfort on a global scale. Here’s a question: When you watch the news or read about an event online, what do you do? Do you ignore it? Do you say, “That’s interesting,” and go on with your day? If it’s good do you celebrate it? If it’s bad do you mourn it?
When we see news of different events, it can be for us a call to prayer. When we see war, we can pray for peace. When we see injustice, we can pray for justice to rain down. When we see something that causes fear, we can pray for hope. When we see something good, we can pray in joy.
These are but a few examples, but we can indeed pray for everyone in practical, daily ways.
This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2020 Bible Reading Calendar. All Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible.