I love the news. Like my black coffee, I like it unadorned, straightforward, and hot. So I begin my day with the local morning show, catch the national evening news, then top off the day with Nightline. I read a daily newspaper and two weekly local papers as well as the Sunday edition. My Internet homepage is programmed to report world and national news headlines, and my car radio is tuned to my favorite news station.
Recently, though, my media consumption became a concern. I began suffering from higher levels of anxiety, headaches, and insomnia. After a thorough exam to rule out physical causes, my physician suggested all my devotion to world events was taking its toll. I realized I was paying more attention to the problems of the world than to the Problem Solver I served!
Then I read an article on intercessory prayer that highlighted a prayer group that meets weekly in a nursing home to pray through the newspaper. The members share clippings they collect through the week and pray for the people and events in the articles.
Suddenly my avid interest in the news no longer seems like a condition, but a calling. Being an informed Christian is no longer an end in itself, but a means by which I can serve through prayer. If you're a similarly afflicted newshound, consider that God may be calling you to regular intercession for the world. Here are some guidelines to help you.
1. Spend more time in God's Word and prayer than in the news media. My day now begins and ends with the Bible, not the daily headlines. This helps me remember it doesn't all depend on me but on God! It also provides a regular check-up to keep things in perspective. God's Word helps me remember that while headlines come and go, God's truth is everlasting. If I've got time to read the paper and watch the news but haven't spent time in God's Word, my priorities are confused.
2. Spend a portion of the television newscast praying for people and daily events. I still tune in to the local and national news, but I keep my Bible, a globe, and information regarding the missionary work in each country handy. (Two excellent sources of prayer info for every country are Operation World by Patrick Johnstone and Jason Mandryk, or the Personal Prayer Diary, published by Youth With A Mission.) I jot notes on potential prayer items and switch off the television after the major stories and the weather. I choose to avoid the second half where reports often are sensationalized spin on the health or science news of the day. I get the same reports from the newspaper where I can focus on the facts apart from the emotionally charged impact of video news.