By Deborah Spooner
Billions of people around the world don’t have anyone sharing a message of salvation with them. What are we to do about this tragedy? How can we pray, give, and go to see God’s glory and name known among the nations? — David Platt in Something Needs to Change Bible study
If we truly understood the reality, it could crush us.
It’s not just one person, or a hundred, or even a million. Billions. Billions of people wake up, breathe the air the Creator created, and exist in a world that belongs to the Father—without knowing the name of Jesus Christ or the power of the Almighty God.
Something needs to change.
And you might be in a unique leadership position to catalyze your congregation towards reaching the unreached. Often, this starts right where the work must be rooted: with prayer.
Tragically, this can be a difficult topic for many churches since prayer meetings are stigmatized as the least well-attended gathering—even though it’s something Jesus himself prioritized (Matthew 14:23, Matthew 26:44, Mark 6:46, Luke 5:16, Luke 6:12 ).
So what can you do? In what ways can you not just ask your congregation to pray for the unreached but tangibly lead them in doing so?
1. Show them
Your congregation may simply need someone to show them how to pray, and you can practically give them resources and remind them of our common humanness.
- Resources: Equip them with tools such as The Joshua Project so they can learn specific ways to pray. Use guides such as the 7-Day Prayer Guide to learn about specific countries and find a guided plan to intercede.
- Reminders: Remind your congregation, and even yourself, that those who are unreached have regular human needs and desires just as we do. They, too, face challenges, joys, discouragements, and we can pray for God to work even through these things to bring them to Himself.
2. Teach them
People are hindered from prayer by not knowing where they’re supposed to “fit more prayer” into their daily life (and may even feel guilty for failing in the past).
Even if they’re starting the day already overwhelmed by tasks and asks, you can show them where to find more pockets of time than we might imagine.
- Car silence: Challenge them—when they are on their commute to and from work, when they are running errands, or any other time when they are in their car—to try silence. Turn off the music, stop the podcasts, put down the phone. In the silence, they can pray. Challenge them to even pray out loud for unreached groups during this time. They might average an hour per day in their car, and this simple habit adds 5 hours of prayer into a work week.
- 10/40 notifications: An area where many unreached people live is referred to as the “10/40” window because of longitudinal and latitudinal lines. But we pass through 10:40 once in the morning and once at night. Ask your congregation to set a phone reminder at 10:40 am or 10:40 pm to remind them to pray for those in the 10/40 window.
- Regular rhythms: Explore with your congregation times when they already pray. Do they pray to open their small group? Do they pray before they eat as a family or on their own? Do they pray before bed? Challenge others to start adding a prayer for the unreached into these cadences of prayer they already have.
3. Encourage them
As we focus on prayer, we face challenges. Offer encouraging scriptural truths even when they face different obstacles that might hinder them from praying:
- When facing distraction: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).
- When facing tiredness: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength” (Isaiah 40:28-29).
- When focusing on ourselves: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).
You can do it. Practically encourage those in your care to pray, deeply, fervently, repeatedly for those unreached with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We won’t regret it.
DEBORAH SPOONER is a marketing strategist for Lifeway’s Groups Ministry.