Praying The News
By Dave Butts
It was my father who first opened the door for me to look at world events as connected with God’s Word and His purposes unfolding on planet earth. It has been a joy and an exciting adventure to watch the news on television or read a newspaper and see it as something more than a depiction of events that are out of my control. Instead, the very things taking place around us are an indication that God is indeed in control.
All too often, Christians feel powerless and at the mercy of a very big world. Watching or reading of news events can feel like an exercise in futility and even worse, bring a sense of anxiety and worry into our lives. One way to deal with that is to shut yourself off from the world. You could turn off the television news and stop reading the news. It may provide temporary relief, but certainly does nothing to change the situation.
There is a better way. It involves a commitment to change your world through prayer. It happens as you see God’s commitment to prayer as a change agent. You begin to see yourself as a player on the world stage. Rather than passively watching and worrying, or ignoring and hiding, you begin to take significant action to bring God’s power to bear on situations going on in the world. You pray!
Throughout Church history, the prayers of believers have been used by God to change the flow of events and alter what might have been. One of the more dramatic instances of this occurred during World War II and involved the small group of intercessors that gathered in Great Britain under the leadership of Rees Howells. Again and again, God led them to pray over particular battles and situations, many which they could not have even known about through their natural senses. In numerous situations, the Lord used their prayers to ensure victory and to change human history.
Obviously, in a case like this, the prayers by themselves did not bring about victory. Men and women in dangerous places fought fierce battles and some paid the ultimate price. But the prayers of Rees Howells and his band of intercessors brought the power of God into the battle and altered history. For further reading on this amazing story, I recommend Norman Grubb’s book, Rees Howells: Intercessor (available through Christian bookstores).
Most of us don’t feel like world changers. We’re just trying to get through day by day. But God has provided an amazing opportunity for us to join with Him in intercession and see His power bring transformation. It will just take a change of attitude and different way of responding to the news.
The attitude is probably the most difficult. If we believe God, then our attitude will begin to shift from being passive to being proactive. Rather than sitting and complaining about things we see or read in the news, we will begin to pray to bring about change. A changed attitude… agreeing with God that someone ought to do something and that He (God) is probably the best someone…will bring us into serious prayer.
That changed attitude will cause us to redeem the time we are using to become aware of world and national events. We begin to approach the news as serious times of prayer. Instead of passively taking in the news, we move into aggressive intervention. I call it prayer! This is very intentional praying. It does not happen accidentally. Make a decision to consider the news as a prayer event.
Ask the Lord to guide you as you pray. There are so many times we respond to events by telling God what He should do, but He is not looking for our advice. He is, however, looking for our cooperation with Him in releasing His power into situations. So many times, the best question we can ask is: "God, what are You doing in this situation?" Ask Him to allow you to see things from His perspective. Things that did not formerly upset you, may cause you to weep in sorrow. Other things that used to make you mad, now become side issues. His ways are so far beyond ours! Pray God’s heart into what you are seeing.
Ask the Lord if there are any action steps for you to take as a result of what you saw and prayed. Prayer is always the first step, but rarely the last. You may need to write a letter to someone involved in a news story. You might be called to give money to someone or something. There might be action steps for your family, especially as it relates to preparation for difficult days ahead. Prayerful watching can help prepare you to be a more effective servant in the Lord’s hands.
Of course, consider the news through the lens of the Bible. As you are paying closer attention to the prophetic Word of God, you will often be reminded of a passage of Scripture as you are watching or reading the news. I will never forget June 6, 1967. I was almost 14 years old. My father was watching television news and called me in to watch with him. Pointing to the news show that told of Israeli forces that had just taken possession of the Temple Mount and the rest of Jerusalem, he said, "You’ve just seen a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Jesus said that Jerusalem would be trampled on by the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles was fulfilled. Now you’ve seen it with your own eyes." That was a powerful demonstration for me of how to view the news through biblical eyes.
"Father, give me eyes to see what is happening around me. Help me to see things from Your perspective. I choose to use times of exposure to news from around the world to be valuable times of intercession. Help me to be disciplined to pray as I watch and read. Show me how You would have me pray. Thank You for allowing me to be a part of what You are doing in the world today."