This week we are sharing some information on the Lausanne Movement “Praying for the World” initiative. This was shared with us by Herman, one of our guest contributors to the blog.
More information on the prayer initiative can be found at https://www.lausanne.org/pray
Praying for the world
Week 1, January 1-5
If the world was a village of 100 people, 33 would claim to be Christians; 24 would be Muslims, 14 Hindus, 7 Buddhists, 6 would follow Chinese religions, 11 would be non-religious and there would be a handful of others.
The proportion of the world that claims to be Christian has been much the same for a century or more. But many things have changed through that time:
- The Church has spread more widely. There are now groups of believers in every country.
- The Christian faith has grown much stronger in the Global South. Millions of Christians have been born across Africa and Asia. Many cultural Catholics in Latin America have met Christ in Pentecostal, charismatic and other evangelical churches.
- In its former heartlands, particularly in Europe, the Christian movement has declined.
- Pentecostals and charismatics have changed the composition of the Church. Almost zero in 1900, they now make up more than a third of all Christians.
- The Church has grown despite opposition and persecution in countries like China, India, Sudan, Vietnam, Iran, Algeria, Albania and Mongolia.
- Some of the fiercest persecution has been followed by the largest church growth. The Cultural Revolution in China was a deadly attack on all religions. Fifty years later, around
100 million Chinese have joined the Church, the greatest turning to the Christian faith in history (so far).
- Thousands of people have turned to Christ in Muslim countries in the last 30 years. This has never happened before.
- Whatever this year brings, we can pray to King Jesus: ‘Your Kingdom come!’
The Mission Heart of God
God’s first word to Abraham at the dawn of recorded history was about blessing the nations (Genesis 12:3).
The story that follows, of the Jewish people in the Old Testament, is like the slow ripening of seed-head, filled with God’s purposes for the world.
After the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, and the pouring out of the Spirit on the Church, this seed-head has burst upon the nations. We are part of this, as we live the gospel out in the world.
This gospel comes to the nations like Christ came at first: in human weakness. The good news of Jesus spreads in the midst of our losses and struggles. The poor in spirit possess the Kingdom; the meek inherit the earth; those who hunger for justice are sustained in their fight. In our weakness, the power of Christ is made perfect.
As we start a new year, whatever we face, we can look up and see Jesus, reigning as King, unfolding his purpose to bring divine blessing to all peoples. In our small acts of service and devotion, we are walking alongside him in a cause and a life that can take all our love, and that cannot fail.
- Let us pray that this year we will ‘always give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord, knowing that our labour in the Lord is not in vain’ (see 1 Corinthians 15:56).
Praying for the World is a free weekly prayer guide to inspire and inform the whole Church to pray for the whole world. Visit www.lausanne.org/pray to start any week. Created through
the partnership of Operation World and the Lausanne Movement.
Praying for the world
Week 2, January 6-12
The Future Church
How different will the world of 2050 be compared with today? We can’t know, but we can project some possibilities based on what is happening now. This can shape our prayers.
Some projections for 2050:
- One third of the world will still call itself ‘Christian.’
- Islam will grow fast (because of high birthrates) and will become almost the same size as the Christian community.
- Every other faith community – Hindus, Buddhists, followers of Chinese religions – will be a smaller slice of the population than today.
- The non-religious part of the world will also shrink because of low birthrates.
- There will the same number of under- 15s as there are today (around two billion), but over-60s will climb from under a billion today to more than two billion in 2050.
- Half the world lives in a city today; in 2050 that could be two-thirds.
- Four out of ten Christians will live in sub-Saharan Africa, and eight out of ten will be from the Global South. The growth or decline of a faith community is mostly due to birthrates and not conversions.
How will the world be different in 2050? Apart from all the unknowable things (including plague or war or mass turnings to Christ) it looks like the Church should expect a world with many more Muslims, elderly people and city dwellers.
- Christ has been building his Church for 50 generations. Pray that in this coming generation the Church will grow wider and deeper than ever before.
The burden of poverty has eased in the last 20 years. Mother and child health, take-up of primary education, and access to clean water and electricity have been transformed in most countries. Deaths from malaria have halved, and the AIDS epidemic is being tamed. But this follows decades of stagnation. Africa is still the poorest continent. Thirty-seven of the world’s 40 poorest countries are African – a lingering injustice.
Africa’s youth are a fifth of all the young people in the world and they may grow to be a third by 2050. These young people as disciples of Jesus could be a power for good; unemployed and angry they could be the fuel for civil wars. Africa’s Church is a light to the world. Already, one in four of the world’s Christians is an African. This could rise to four in 10 by 2050. In great prayer meetings, in faithfulness to the Bible, in starting new churches at home and overseas, Africans are changing the world.
- Pray for wise, honest leaders in every African sphere, in politics, church and business.
- Pray for Africa’s women. More than a third suffer domestic violence, and they are denied equality almost everywhere: in education, health-care, employment.
- Pray for a great turning to Christ in Africa’s many Muslim peoples.