When we consider the vast number of people who have never heard the good news, reaching them seems to be a daunting task. After all, what can one do to affect real change across the earth?
But in Matthew 9 when Jesus saw the crowds of people, His first directive was not to go or do anything, but instead to pray:
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field,’” (Mat 9:36-38, emphasis added).
Reaching the whole world with the gospel was God’s idea and God’s mission from the very beginning. He is the One with enough compassion and resources to reach every people group on earth. Despite not needing our help, He delights in inviting us into His business, and the first and most powerful step is through prayer. As Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer doesn’t prepare us for the work, prayer is the work.”
Building a habit of prayer for the nations can take many forms. Simple examples are setting an alarm to pray for a few minutes each day or incorporating it into mealtime prayer. It can include going on a neighborhood prayer walk every Tuesday afternoon and inviting others along or starting a prayer group at your church. Or it can be a determination to pause and pray whenever current events come up in conversation. All of these can incorporate learning more about unreached people groups and inviting others into these prayer habits.
While it is sometimes difficult to see the effects of prayer, consider the effect it has already had across the world. Immediately after directing His disciples to pray, Jesus called twelve apostles and sent them out to preach the good news (Matthew 10, see also Luke 10). Over two thousand years later, thousands of people groups all over the world have been reached and continue to spread the good news. Let us faithfully pray to God, who can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine (Eph 3:20), to let His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven (Mat 6:10) across every nation and tribe and people and language (Rev 7:9)… until all have heard.