He admired his devout parents’ love for God and “their desire to live out the Christian life,” but as a child, Peter* from the UK said he found both his traditional church and prayer “boring.” Years later, after re-dedicating his life to Christ in his late teens, Peter was floored by a Spanish-speaking Mexican handing out evangelical tracts in the British city where he was working. Talking to other people distributing literature in the area, he discovered their efforts were part of OM’s month-long preparation programme for Jesus followers headed to other countries to share God’s love. Invited to find out more, “I went along to some of the night meetings, and it literally turned my world upside down,” he described. “I saw young people taking notes. I never did that at my church. …It really challenged me.”
So much so, in fact, that the next summer Peter joined OM for a summer outreach across Europe. At the time, participants relied on books sales to fund their travels. Peter’s team, however, did not sell enough books to have sufficient money for the journey back to Belgium, where OM’s main European hub was located. Expecting to be stranded on the German autobahn, Peter instead witnessed God meet the team’s needs. “This adventure of seeing God provide an answer to prayer—it was really exciting for me,” he shared.
When he decided, about a year later, to participate in a year-long outreach programme with OM, the adventure continued: “real, miraculous stories of God providing,” he remembered. “I had never needed to pray and ask God for resources before. I had a job. I had a car. I had a home, but it was this adventure of seeing God provide on the way as it were.”
Praying around the world
More than thirty years later, Peter continues to experience the adventure of seeing God provide through prayer. As part of OM’s international prayer team, he leads others in discovering that process as well. “When I joined OM, I wouldn't say I was that spiritual. I joined for the adventure of what it was and then finding out God answered prayer, but I would never see myself having any sort of leadership position. God just takes the weakest really and uses them because it's His strength and not ours,” Peter explained.
“He actually uses us, and the privilege we have is that we get to partner with God in what He wants to do. And as we hear what His heart is, and we're able to pray that, then He's ready to answer. If we would just ask Him.”
Whether he’s setting up an oversized floor map and presenting information about various countries or facilitating prayer rooms at leaders’ meetings and conferences around the world, Peter helps others experience intimacy with God through worship and prayer. Prayer “is not just coming with our list of requests and desires for God,” he explained. “But I realised that out of worship, out of intimacy, you’re able to approach God for the things that you need. That changed my whole focus in prayer that it was all based on really loving God.”
Though he has not kept track of how many countries he’s visited—and some places he travelled to, like former Yugoslavia, have now spawned multiple nations—international travel has influenced Peter’s understanding and practice of prayer. “In different cultures, there really are different ways of approaching prayer, and the great thing of being part of an international organisation and part of an international prayer team is learning from other cultures and the way that others do prayer,” he shared.
Silent retreats, a planned period when people commit to spending time with and listening to God, and Lectio Divina, an intentional process of reading Scripture, praying and meditating, have especially inspired him, Peter said. “There are a lot of new ways that we can encounter God, so it’s been an amazing journey for me, and I realise there’s still so much more to learn and grow in this area of prayer.”
Praying through the Arabian Peninsula
Of the many places he’s travelled, the Middle East grabbed Peter’s heart in a particular way. Up until the coronavirus pandemic widely halted travel, Jesus followers living in the region consistently invited Peter to bring prayer teams in and lead prayer events for believers there. “As you pray for a country, as you spend a lot of time prayer walking through the desert, through villages, through towns, through cities—as you spend time with people praying for their concerns, God just absolutely grabs your heart with it, and it's no longer just something that you do as part of your job. You have a real passion for the country and for the people and the region,” he said.
Peter had been experimenting with sharing prayer requests on video since 2004, when he visited Banda Aceh, Indonesia, after the devasting Indian Ocean tsunami. When he witnessed the incredible response of Jesus followers to the visual footage paired with stories sent out by OM’s US office after that trip, he knew he’d continue to use a video camera to capture people’s attention. “We recognised the opportunity to raise more prayer by giving basic information about a country or city and three prayer points,” he explained. Soon, Peter and his friend Steven, who often travelled together, began preparing simple scripts and recording footage as they visited different places. Eventually, Peter and Steven started contributing their videos to different organisations, including Near East Initiative, based out of Lebanon, and Praying Through the Arabian Peninsula (PTAP), a collection of resources to help people pray for the seven Gulf countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
All the PTAP videos are posted publicly on YouTube, and Peter discovered that many of the views originate from inside the Arabian Peninsula itself. Seeing an opportunity to reach out to the Muslim Arabs they were praying for, Peter and the PTAP partners began adding a short message in Arabic to the end of each video, including a website URL for those wanting more information about Jesus.
And, of course, they continue to pray. “We pray for more people to go. We pray that God will increase these small groups of followers of Jesus and develop them into vibrant communities. We pray for dreams and visions among the people so that by having encounters with Jesus, they’re open to hear more about Him. And we pray for distribution of God’s Word, whether digitally or in print,” Peter said.
Practical steps for learning how to pray for the nations
- Read through Operation World, a comprehensive reference and prayer guide for the nations, and commit to praying for one country each day. Operation World also has a daily prayer app, available for Android or iOS.
- Spend time learning about unreached people groups on the Joshua Project website or commit to praying for an unreached people group each day through its app, available for Android or iOS.
- Download OM’s prayer app, Prayer Reach, and participate in a global movement of prayer for specific communities and people around the world several times a year. Prayer Reach is available for Android and iOS.
- Watch PTAP videos and learn how to pray alongside Peter and other Jesus followers for people living in the Arabian Peninsula.
- As permitted by coronavirus pandemic restrictions and conditions, join an international prayer team, travel to another country and learn how to pray for its people as you visit various places and meet Jesus followers living there. Discover opportunities at om.org.