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Monday, March 14, 2016

"An Insider's Guide to Praying for the World" (Brian C. Stiller)

TITLE: An Insider's Guide to Praying for the World: · country-by-country prayer guide · inspiring faith stories · on-the-ground insights · up-to-date-maps
AUTHOR: Brian C. Stiller
PUBLISHER: Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2016, (288 pages).

One of the best and most informative books about praying for the world is Patrick Johnstone and Jason Mandryk's "Operation World." It is packed with information about each country, its general statistics, and specific items for prayer. It is now in its 7th edition. At first look, this book seems to be doing the same. The key difference is that rather than going for the breadth of countries covered, the author, Brian Stiller decides to shortlist a few countries based on a small list of criteria such as higher level of religious persecution; innovative work; dangerous missions; etc, so that he can go in-depth. For general statistics, he relies on Operation World. For more specific information that he knows about, he brings in his knowledge and first-hand experience by virtue of him being the Global Ambassador of the World Evangelical Alliance, an organization that serves over 600 million Christians.  Some features of this book are:
  • Map of the country concerned and its location
  • Its population and religious statistics
  • A brief dispatch that came from real reports about each country
  • The promises and challenges the local church faces
  • A selected Bible passage
  • Items for prayer and a sample prayer.
For each country, there is a summary title to give readers a tip about the prayer needs of the country. For example, the country of Somalia was given the tip "Sometimes one needs a warlord." Stiller describes his experience of being protected by a warlord in the midst of violence and anarchy. For all the pirating and killings being done in that country, Stiller reminds us that God also loves Somalia and even if we do not travel there at all, we can pray specifically for the future of that war-torn nation. India is described as a place where it is "over a billion and growing," giving us a clue as to the complexities and diversity of the South Asian nation. Japan is seen as a country that is "punching above their weight," in view of the tremendous resilience after suffering earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters.  All in all, a total of about 40 countries are in this list. The countries covered are in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, South and Central America.

Reading this book shows us about the realities of living in the countries mentioned. We learn of how it impacts the daily living and spiritual contexts. This is important as many of us in the West tend to see the faith of others in the context of our own backyard! With this book, we are more informed about the complex web of relationships the believers in these countries had to suffer. Many of them do not have the same human rights or religious freedom as the first world. Christians in the West can sometimes become too simplistic in their expectations of others, thinking that their churches are like our comfortable buildings. Generally, the believers in these other countries do not have it as easy. Some may have built Western style churches but they are very few indeed and cannot be generalized.

There are inspiring faith stories to encourage us as well. Stories from agencies such as Salvation Army, Youth For Christ, CRASH relief, Prison Fellowship International, and many more. Readers can learn to pray more intelligibly with the facts and stories brought up close and personal. For whatever reasons, if you are unable to go to these countries to serve, reading this book will help you appreciate the unique struggles the believers there face. The first step in wanting to support or to help is to know about the needs. This is done by prayer. With this book, we are equipped to pray better.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Bethany House Publishers and Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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