O come, O come, Emmanuel

Recently I spent two weeks reading through 900 pages of the prayer handbook Operation World. (I was preparing the text for conversion to a phone app: exciting project.)

Operation World is basically the most gigantic prayer list every compiled. Prayer points are suggested for each country and there are thousands of them.

Reading Operation World over just a few days is an exhausting experience. So much need. So many places and points for prayer.

Many countries and peoples are still owed the gospel, and we in the church have been slow coming up with the goods.

A few countries, have, if anything been punched drunk by repeated visits of short-term missionary teams; not exactly over-evangelized but at a certain level exploited.

Corruption, power seeking, divisions? Apathy, defeat, retreat? Immorality? Idolatry? Take your pick. It seems to be everywhere. Everywhere needs good teaching, disciples being formed, the Spirit stirring. Everywhere needs leadership training and student work and children’s work.

It’s exhausting.

How to make sense of it, this spraying, kicking hosepipe of need? I was puzzling over this when I remembered the prayer at the very end of the Bible, which is also perhaps the simplest prayer in the Bible.

Come, Lord Jesus. Into every situation. Into every heart. One day, in power to usher in a new world. O come, O come, Emmanuel.

(This title is an edited and occasionally updated version of the 2010 version, with about 600 fewer pages, which–full disclosure–I helped edit.)

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