How to pray when you’ve no idea what’s going on
Very often we hear about situations around the world that we know we need to pray about, but we don't really understand how to do that well.
Whether it’s a war, a natural disaster, an abuse of power or any other catastrophe, the situation may feel too big and complex to know how to pray about it well or specifically.
We want to help our kids and teens learn to pray about everything. So how can we help them do this when the situation is so huge? Here are three things to think about that might be helpful.
1. Pray for the poor, the powerless and the persecuted.
Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked. (Psalm 82)
Again and again in Scripture we see God demanding that we pay attention to the poor, the powerless and the persecuted. Who are the poor, the powerless and the persecuted in this situation?
You might want to chat to your children as you talk about the situation: who are the weak people who can’t get help, or who are being ignored? Who is being picked on or treated badly? Who isn’t strong enough to help themselves? Pray for those groups.
- What do they need from God?
- What do they need physically?
- What do they need emotionally?
- What do they need to change in the situation around them?
2. Pray for those who are in authority
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
Whether or not we know who the good guys are, we can pray for everyone who has authority in that situation: that they make good and just decisions and that they hear God speaking to them.
Wonder together: who are all the leaders we can pray for? These may include governments, church leaders, leaders of protest movements, leaders in the army, community leaders, leaders of charities or aid organisations. They will include leaders we think are trying to do the right thing, or leaders we believe are not.
- What do they need from God?
- What are the blocks in front of them that need removing so they can hear God’s voice in all this?
3. Pray for what God draws your attention to
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3)
A few years ago, I read an article about the war in Afghanistan. There was a photo of a soldier standing near a toddler, and suddenly God showed me the soldier in a new light: as a father, a person forced into war against his better judgement. I felt God asking me to pray for all the soldiers involved. God asks us to pray because our prayers make a difference. From time to time He may unexpectedly draw your attention to something or someone, because He wants you to pray for them.
Chat to your children: is there anything or anyone in this situation that you keep thinking about? Chat to God about that. Ask Him if there is anything in particular He wants to tell you or wants you to pray for.
You might also be interested in:
- Chat and Catch – our key tool for encouraging kids to pray
- How can we talk to our children and teens about injustice?
- Helping children process the news
- Answering big questions about God, suffering and Covid-19
- Using the family name – helping our children to pray with Jesus’ authority