Many prominent ministry leaders came out Tuesday in a webcast to endorse the new edition of Operation World and to call on Christians to pray for the nations.
Operation World, a prayer encyclopedia listed in Christianity Today's "The Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals," was endorsed by Joni Eareckson Tada, Max Lucado, Anne Graham Lotz, and megachurch pastor David Platt, among other well-known leaders.
Through individual videos, the leaders shared how the up-to-date, country-focused book has impacted their prayer life.
"There is no book outside of the Bible that has had more of an effect on my own prayer life than Operation World," said David Platt, senior pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., and author of the bestseller Radical: Taking Back You Faith from the American Dream.
"It just opens my eyes to the glory of God in the nations and the needs in the nations and the spread of the gospel in the nations," he said.
Platt has engaged his congregation of about 5,000 members this past year to pray daily for every country in the world using Operation World.
The seventh edition was released last month during the Lausanne III conference in Cape Town, South Africa. The prayer encyclopedia provides information on trends in the Church and wider society in every single nation in the world to help Christians pray more effectively.
Information in the book includes briefs about the country's geography, languages, economy, politics, religions and Christian denominations. It also includes challenges for prayer at the end of each country summary that help readers know what prayers the country needs based on reports from missionaries on the ground.
"The reality is that if we produce the best possible volume of information but nobody uses it, it has almost been a waste of our time," commented Jason Mandryk, chief researcher and editor of the seventh edition of OW, on Tuesday. "So our aspiration and our hope is that people use the material to pray, because ultimately this is all about prayer."
"That is our goal and our hope, that people around the world will pick up the material and use it to intercede for the nations and for God's kingdom to be made manifest all around the world."
It took five years to put together the latest volume of OW.
Since the original edition was printed in 1964, more than 2 million copies have been sold. The book has been translated into several languages, including: German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Korean, Chinese, Russian, and in part into Indonesian and Italian.
Mandryk noted that in addition to a prayer guide, OW can also be used and has been used by individuals, churches, mission agencies, and foundations to make good decisions about how their time, resources, and lives will be spent serving God's gospel.
Anne Graham Lotz, author and speaker and the daughter of Billy Graham, shared in a video message that she always looks through OW before she goes to share the Gospel in another country.
"I'm getting ready to accept an invitation to an African country," shared Lotz. "I've already looked up the country in Operation World to find out what the background of the people are … and some of the issues that they face so I can pray for them in advance before I go."
"I just heartedly recommend without any reservation the revised edition of Operation World," she said. "It will be a very valued volume on my shelf."
Later in the webcast, bestselling author and speaker Max Lucado talked about his shared passion with OW's mission of praying for the nations. He recalled watching his professor praying for the nations during classes. One day his professor said he was praying for Brazil that day and perhaps Lucado would be the answer to his prayer. Years later, Lucado became a missionary in Brazil and wondered if he was the answer to his professor's prayer.
"God hears the prayer of His people and He loves people all over the world," said Lucado. "I hope you will be part of this movement and I hope you will never underestimate the power of prayer."
Mandryk recommends keeping a copy of OW by the television so people can look up a country and pray for it after they see a news report on the nation. He also suggests families place the book near the kitchen table where they can pray together for the nations each evening.
"What would really happen if every believer and every follower of Jesus Christ committed themselves to praying for the world on a regular basis," Mandryk pondered. "Just how different would the world look if we were all committed to that process – sacrificing our time, sacrificing our sleep and sacrificing our meals when we fast for these things."
"If the church really got serious about praying, I think the world would be transformed for the glory of God," he said.
Only about one percent of the congregations in the world are engaged in evangelism, outreach, and mission, noted the researcher. Yet this tiny fraction makes so much difference in the world.
"If we can make that shift from one percent to two percent, such a tiny transition, we would be doubling what is happening out there in the field, in the world, among people who are crying out for the good news, among people who are suffering in all kinds of ways," Mandryk said.
On the Web: http://www.operationworld.org/