2010 NOVEMBER 17-30 PRAYER AGENDA FOR THE NATIONS
In the United States we have a holiday this month called Thanksgiving that was started around 1621 as a religious holiday in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It is a time of gathering with family and friends and celebrating the harvest and God’s goodness throughout the year. Several other nations have a similar holiday that is a time of both reflection and thanksgiving.
As we pray for the nations this month let us thank God for the release of His mercies and grace to those who have yet to acknowledge Him as Lord of the whole earth.
We continue to pray for Haiti as they still fight to recover from the devastating earthquake in January, now complicated by an outbreak of cholera. We also pray for the nation of Indonesia that has experienced another earthquake, tsunami and eruptions of the volcano Mount Merapi. Let us not get weary in our prayers but to continue to trust the promises of God to cover the earth with His glory!
17-22. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Globalization of the modern world is largely driven by US technology, media and culture. There are positives – the Internet communications revolution, widespread use of English, information availability that empowers people and exposes tyrannies, economic development, etc. There are the downsides, too – an insensitive cultural imperialism, imposition of a post-Protestant American individualism without its biblical constraints, a glorified perception of recently gained human rights, freedom and democracy that could generate anarchy and moral collapse.
Pray for the restraint of greed and evil and the enhancement of the good in this revolution now taking place.
The Pilgrim Fathers were determined to establish a land in which they were free to exercise their Christian faith. On that foundation has developed one of the largest and most dynamic Christian movements in history. In the USA are 19% of the Protestants in the world, 21.5% of the Evangelicals and 35% of all the world’s foreign missionaries. Evangelistic vitality, generosity and vision have been major factors in the surge of gospel progress.
Pray that this may be maintained.
The Christian Church is not impacting the nation as it should. The USA needs revival, yet the word ‘revival’ has been debased to mean slick mass evangelism and theatrics. The need of the hour is a true revival with conviction of sin, repentance and an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
These are some of the prayer challenges for the 21st Century Church:
a) The need for biblical holiness in a time when Christians display little difference in values and lifestyle to non-Christians. Superficiality and materialism are more characteristic than dedication and passion for Jesus and doing His will. The succession of high-profile failures of televangelists, Christian leaders in the church and in politics and the high rate of divorce among church-goers all underline the need.
Pray that Christians may repent of carnality, be revived and help to change rather than mimic culture.
b) A deep commitment to the authority and veracity of the Bible. Effective expository preaching and solid teaching on the basic doctrines of the faith are not widely evident. The prevailing tolerant pluralism has brought widespread loss of certainty about the Bible and a creeping universalism which cripples vision for evangelism and missions.
c) Spiritual unity. The Church in the USA is seriously divided on several key issues and needs prayer. A number of Christians in mainline denominations tilt towards the politically-correct left in supporting pro-choice (abortions) a feminist agenda and gay marriages. Many Catholics, Orthodox and most conservative Protestants would oppose these. Numerous Bible-believing denominations wage war over issues such as eschatology, gifts of the Spirit, definitions of biblical inerrancy, length of the days of creation, etc., while issues of world evangelization are sidelined.
Pray for repentance, a seeking after God’s priorities and that, through love and grace, a sensitive and balanced handling of divisive areas might be found.
d) Christian withdrawal from, or involvement in, public life is an ongoing unresolved tension. The public school system has deep failings – not least the elimination of anything Christian or religious. Massive networks of Christian-run school systems have emerged. Some would consider this separation as a retreat. A spectrum of evangelical groups are working for social change in the USA which include such as Mission America, WVI, Prison Fellowship, Promise Keepers and Christian Community Development Association, Evangelicals for Social Action, Concerned Women of America, the Christian Coalition, etc. Efforts by the Moral Majority and the Religious Right to influence the political world have not been entirely successful.
Pray for balance, wisdom and long-term involvement of Christians as salt and light in society.
e) A crisis of leadership and church structures demand a revolutionary re-think. Common expectations are for a pastor to be a media star at the apex of a pyramid with a performing leadership and spectator laity.
Pray for the wider development of a servant leadership that enables the led to be active as biblical apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in a participatory fellowship structure.
f) Leadership training possibilities abound. The variety and number of theological training possibilities defies full analysis! There are 644 recognized institutions that award theological degrees. The American Association of Bible Colleges includes 89 accredited evangelical colleges.
Pray also for flexibility and innovation in leadership training which is fitted for the times in which we live.
23. URUGUAY: Lack of knowledge of God has given opening to a spirit of error. Brazilian spiritists, once banned, could possibly number a million, many of them members of the Catholic Church. The largest non-Catholic religious bodies are sects such as the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the New Apostolic Church. New Age thinking has filled the vacuum among the agnostic middle-class and intelligentsia. The Unification Church (Moonies) is also influencing the country through capital investment.
Pray for these deceptions to be exposed and the demonic powers behind them defeated.
Evangelical churches have struggled throughout the past century to make an impact on Uruguayan society, and large-scale efforts garnered only meagre fruit in converts. However, since 1986 the growth of some Pentecostal groups and Baptists has accelerated.
Pray for this awakening to continue and that all evangelical churches may find ways to take advantage of this new spiritual interest.
Unity has been one of the fruits of this recent awakening. While prayer for further unity and fellowship is still needed, churches are working together on an unprecedented scale. Through the ministry of DAWN, Evangelical Alliance members launched Cooperacion 2000 – a goal of 2000 new congregations by the year 2005. Many feel as if Uruguay is on the cusp of revival. A large increase in congregations will create a demand for godly, well-trained pastors. Some schools have been negatively impacted in the past by liberal theology
24-25. UZBEKISTAN: Independence has not brought freedom, but instead, the nation is an arena of warring value systems. The term Uzbek means ‘master of himself’, but many are seeking to enslave the Uzbeks with their ideologies: radical Islamism (especially in the fertile Ferghana valley), occultism, and several sects.
Pray that Uzbeks might find freedom by serving the Lord their Creator and true Master.
Uzbekistan is strategically vital – whither goes Uzbekistan, so goes Central Asia. There is an intensifying contest between the current regime (‘democratic’ with leftover Soviet ideology) and Islamism (of the Wahhabi sect). But the people are disillusioned – the economy is crumbling under Soviet style control, and corruption within the government is resistant to change and reform.
Pray that the nation’s leaders may govern uprightly and for regional stability despite attempts by some to exploit and destabilize.
Uzbekistan is one of the world’s worst violators of religious liberty. Dynamic and evangelism-oriented churches, especially Uzbek churches, are particularly targeted.
Official registration eases this problem, but the government has made this almost impossible to achieve. Evangelism or missionary activity can earn three years in prison; organizing an unregistered group, five years. Some Christians have been imprisoned, but they are winning many converts while in prison.
Pray too for those persecuted and in prison, that God may give them strength and boldness.
26. VANUATU: Vanuatu’s motto is “In God we stand”. Christians played a major role in the attainment of independence and in subsequent governments.
Pray that the leaders of this complex little nation may be an
example in doing so.
Pray for these spiritual challenges for Christians:
a) There are pockets of traditional ethnic religion on Tanna, Aniwa, Santo, Vao and other islands.
b) There are many who still follow ‘custom’ or have been led astray by cargo cults.
c) How to counteract increased Mormon missionary activity.
d) Muslim missionaries are active in setting up mosques and offering free schooling.
27-28. VENEZUELA: On a social level, Venezuela is struggling. Poverty is widespread, living standards are plummeting (60% of urbanites live in slums) and crime is soaring out of control. The use of Venezuela as a drug trafficking conduit increases – the long border with Colombia is impossible to adequately patrol, despite the government’s efforts.
Pray that just and honorable leadership would be raised up to oppose systemic evil in this nation.
Pray for a government determined and upright in its efforts to relieve poverty and combat lawlessness.
The religious climate of the country is increasingly opposed to Christ:
a) Venezuela is not at all the Catholic bastion that it seems. The majority of Catholics are nominal – only 20% attend mass – making Venezuela one of the least churchgoing nations in all Latin America. A secular materialist mindset is prevalent in public life. The Catholic hierarchy often seems more concerned with guarding its privileged position and opposing evangelical work than tending to its needy flock.
b) Spiritism is dangerously strong. Up to 85% of the population are involved to a lesser or greater extent in some form of spiritist practice. There are thousands of occult and spiritist shops where witch doctors and their ilk are frequented by rich and poor alike. Television programmes and advertisements promoting this are growing in number.
c) All manner of spiritual forces draw Venezuelans away from Christ. New Age spirituality is increasing, especially among the educated and rich. Satanists actively seek to destroy the Church. Caracas is the site of Latin America’s largest mosque. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons claim huge numbers and are growing rapidly.
29-30. VIETNAM: One of the few Communist nations in the 21st Century, Vietnam faces new challenges. Repression of all types of freedom continues, but at the same time, social ills are on the rise. Drug addiction, AIDS, prostitution and exploitation of children are all too common. There are two abortions for every live birth, one of the world’s highest rates.
Pray that the ideological and moral darkness over this nation might be banished by the light of the gospel.
Vietnam remains one of the worst persecutors of Christians. Seeing the role of Christianity in the demise of Communism elsewhere, the regime has attempted to either control or wipe out believers. Government efforts have intensified as churches respond to persecution with growth and outreach. Registration implies compromise; failure to register churches is illegal – forcing most believers’ underground.
a) Those in prison for their faith. At any time there are probably dozens of Christian leaders imprisoned. Most pastors have had times of imprisonment in grim conditions.
Pray for Christians in prison – many prisoners have come to faith through such witness.
b) Registered churches. The Church in the north has suffered much longer, and the authorities there are stricter. Meetings are only permitted in the few remaining recognized church buildings; the majority have been closed or destroyed. Open evangelism and itinerant ministry is forbidden and contact with foreign Christians restricted. Yet these churches, especially EVCN/CMA, have grown.
Pray that they may withstand unrelenting government pressures to compromise and conform to strict regulations.
c) Unregistered churches. These are harassed by the police, with meetings frequently broken up and leaders arrested. Yet the courage and tenacity of these believers under pressure rarely fails and growth continues. There are tensions between leaders of registered and unregistered churches.
d) The Montagnard churches among the Ede, Jarai, Koho, Mnong, Stieng and others. They have suffered particularly savage persecution – churches razed, congregations scattered and Christians killed. Yet people movements to Christ are still reported. Maintaining adequate fellowship is hard where meetings are illegal and few of their languages have Scriptures. This lack has led to schisms and false teaching in some areas.
Pray for an increased supernatural move of the Holy Spirit among all of these Christians.
Pray for them to walk in boldness and in the love of the Lord.
May you be encouraged to believe for great things from our God.
Lane M. Holland, M.Div.
Mission Info Bank. Used by permission.
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