Prayer is one of the most powerful tools that the Holy Spirit gives us to lift up our desires, needs, and petitions to the Lord. It’s the way we learn to rely on God and say “your will, not mine, be done.” He is always faithful, and we see this time and time again in the way he ministers to the most vulnerable worldwide. We see hope in the hard places. We see broken relationships being restored. As we ease into this new decade, we encourage you to take a moment to thank God for what he’s done. Then, would you pray for these four needs that affect those in poverty around the world?
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” –Ephesians 6:18
1. Pray for Those Experiencing Hunger
The name Food for the Hungry came from the verse in Psalms 146:7, which states: “He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.” Unfortunately, the hunger crisis is getting worse. This is the third year in a row that hunger is on the rise. Currently, 821 million people (1 in 9 people) suffer from chronic hunger. Almost 15,000 children under the age of five die of malnutrition-related causes every day. That is not okay.
As FH and other organizations respond to the hunger crisis worldwide, reducing food insecurity through agricultural livelihood training, food distributions, and teaching mothers how to raise healthy babies, be prayerfully considering how you can join in God’s work to alleviate both physical and spiritual hunger.
Pray for those experiencing hunger worldwide using this simple format from Bread for the World, asking God to provide their daily bread.
Dear Lord, I lift up the families around the world who are struggling with hunger or a lack of food.
Grant them strength and courage as they work to create a better life for themselves and their communities.
May conflicts cease, crops flourish, and good governance grow.
In the name of Jesus, who is the Bread of Life for the world.
2. Pray for Peace Amidst International Unrest
Like a row of dominoes, a myriad of countries took out their banners and marched to the streets this year. First came Venezuela. Then, Nicaragua. The Democratic Republic of Congo. Hong Kong. Haiti. Chile. Colombia. Bolivia. Some marched due to election fraud; others were incited by proposals of pension cuts or subway fare increases. Even in the United States, the year was dotted with moments of divisive tension.
In uncertain times, unrest can cause deep anxiety about what’s next, and what’s to come. Food for the Hungry’s own staff in Haiti, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and the DRC have all experienced the impacts of unrest and violence happening in their communities. Yet the Bible teaches us that God is our ultimate authority. He is in control of all situations, even as earthly powers shift and change.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” -Philippians 4:6
Say a prayer using a simple guided prayer from the Church of England’s prompt on international unrest:
whose will is to restore all things
in your beloved Son, the King of all:
govern the hearts and minds of those in authority,
and bring the families of the nations,
divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin,
to be subject to his just and gentle rule;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
3. Pray for the Impacts of Climate Change
With new reports being released by the United Nations every year, climate change is becoming an issue that’s hard to ignore. The tipping point of preventing irreversible climate change is near, demanding immediate action from consumers, corporations, and countries alike. In fact, economists estimate that a two-degree Celsius rise in average global temperature could cause the loss of countless lives, due to uninhabitable coastlines, natural disasters, and lack of resources.
Unfortunately, climate change exacerbates inequality. The UN and other researchers have shown that those in poverty suffer disproportionately more from the adverse effects of climate change than the rich. The injustice is another layer deep: in reality, developing countries contribute least to carbon dioxide emissions.
That is why we care. Around the world, we see how the communities we serve are battling climate change. It is the extreme poor that live in remote and fragile places. Due to the increased frequency of climate-affected events like hurricanes, heatwaves, and droughts, many families are struggling to provide. Food supplies are threatened, people are forced to move from their homes, and conflict increases. Since many families in poverty depend on agricultural livelihoods, less-dependable rainfall means smaller harvests.
Inspired by the prayers of one of our partner organizations, Tearfund, here’s an amended prayer to pray for God’s protection from the impacts of climate change, and for our collective response on this issue.
God of all creation, we pray for a world where people and our planet thrive.
We pray for those living with the effects of climate: those facing extreme weather, failed crops, lack of food supplies, and fear about the future.
God, we pray you would send us out as your global church to love our neighbors and protect the most vulnerable people from climate change. Help us be bold and courageous in speaking up for justice.
We pray for sustainable solutions, for a clear path, for unity between the countries and for all nations to keep their commitments to deep and transformative change on this issue.
We pray for justice and renewal in all the earth.
In Jesus name,
4. Pray for Those Struggling with Mental Health
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10
Mental health continued to be one of the most pressing issues affecting believers and unbelievers alike in 2019. In the United States, emotional distress such as anxiety affects over 40 million adults, with only 36% receiving treatment. The World Health Organization estimates that someone dies from suicide every 40 seconds. When external and internal pressures amount, a downward spiral of anxiety and depression can rob individuals of their flourishing in Christ.
Meanwhile, we know that mental illness is not specifically a Western “problem.” It may come as a shock to learn that suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds globally. Researcher Vikram Patel studied the impact of mental health in Zimbabwe and concluded that the symptoms of depression manifest in the same ways, but access to psychotherapeutic services differed greatly between countries. This is especially true for women. Food for the Hungry recently concluded a research trial in Uganda studying the effects of maternal depression on children’s’ health and nutrition. While results are being analyzed, one thing is clear: mental health is a universal experience. Patel noted that no matter what individuals called “depression” or what they held to be the reason or the cure, symptoms such as hopelessness, exhaustion, and an inability to confront their problems and a lack of interest in life were true.
Follow this prompt adapted from the National Alliance on Mental Illness below to pray for someone struggling with mental illness:
Dear Lord Jesus, we come before you to ask for overwhelming peace and healing of minds, because we know that you are a God of love and compassion.
You Lord, became fully human and walked amongst us, so you understand the complexities of the human brain. You are always near to us, in the day and in the darkness of night.
To those around us and those far away struggling with their mental health, would you lift their burdens, calm their anxiety, and quiet their fears. Help them know they are not alone.
We know you love us and hear our prayers. We ask this in your son’s name of Jesus.
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