How Do I Pray for Bibleless People?

Learn about language communities without Scripture and how to pray for them.

Who Are the Bibleless People?

A Bibleless people group is a language community in need of a Bible translation. They have no known Scripture and no active translation project. Believe it or not, there are still more than 1,600 of these groups! That adds up to approximately 160 million people without access to God's Word in a language that speaks to their heart.

In 1982, Wycliffe formed the Bibleless Peoples Prayer Project (BPPP) with the resolute goal to recruit men, women and children to prayerfully lay the foundation for a translation program to begin in each of the world's Bibleless people groups. We believe the true beginning of a Bible translation is when someone starts praying for it to happen.

How to Pray for Bibleless People

If you're heart's desire is to pray for the Bibleless but don't know where to begin, below are a few prayer points that will help you understand some of the needs.

Pray for the Message

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. — John 1:1 (NLT)

  • Pray that the last languages of the world would receive the Scriptures in whatever form they need it. Dare to ask God for big things! Ask him to provide every person in the world with his Word — just as he has already provided it for us — written in their heart language!

  • Pray that the integrity of God’s Word would be maintained as it is translated. Pray for quality translations that speak meaningfully to the hearts of Bibleless people.

Pray for the People

His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him — though he is not far from any one of us. — Acts 17:27 (NLT)

  • Pray for the safety of Bibleless people. Many are residents in, or displaced from, countries with poor political and social conditions.

  • Pray that Bibleless people would be well ministered to by the cooperative efforts of local churches and mission agencies.

  • Pray that Bibleless people would hunger and thirst for God’s Word in their heart language.

  • Pray that Bibleless people would use the Scripture once it is translated. Pray that lives would be transformed by the power of the gospel.

Pray for Personnel

So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields. — Matthew 9:38 (NLT)

Language Workers

  • Pray for more language workers to be called, trained and sent.

  • Pray that translation needs would clearly be identified through quality survey work.

  • Pray that language workers would help develop writing systems for unwritten languages.

Support Workers

  • Pray for more children’s education personnel (like teachers, administrators and librarians).

  • Pray for community development specialists as they help provide safe, effective and economical transportation.

  • Pray for technology workers who provide computer, email, radio and satellite phone support.

  • Pray for communication specialists (like writers, artists and printers) as they inform prayer and financial partners about ongoing needs and the progress of translation work.

  • Ask God to help construction, maintenance and management personnel as they develop and maintain translation support centers around the world.

  • Pray for purchasing and shipping staff as they keep much-needed supplies flowing.

Pray for the Completion of the Task

Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. — Philippians 2:16 (NLT)

  • Pray for perseverance. Pray that those involved in the Bible translation task would not grow weary or give up before the work is complete.

The Bibleless Peoples Prayer Project

Over the years, we have seen many who have committed to pray for a specific people group have the privilege of seeing God answer their prayers in unique ways. A five-year-old boy named Sam prayed each Sunday for the Rapa Nui people on Easter Island. One day, Sam heard that Wycliffe had assigned missionaries to work among the Rapa Nui. His parents later discovered that the missionaries had become interested in Easter Island around the same time their son started praying. God is at work through the prayers of his people!

Simple enough for a child and rewarding for those of any age, the Bibleless Peoples Prayer Project draws you into God's love for the people of the world. Will you join us in prayer for those who are still waiting to hear of this great love?

What happens when I sign up to pray for a people group?

When you sign up to join the Wycliffe prayer team, you'll receive periodic emails to help you pray. If you've chosen a Bibleless people group to pray for regularly, you'll also receive an email with information about your specific language group and its speakers.

As you commit to prayer, we also commit to updating you with any new information that we receive about your group so that you can pray with the most accurate information. It may be a long time before your hear any news, but we'll be here for however long it takes. Ultimately, we desire to connect you with Bible translation teams when they start translation work with your people group.

Will I be contacted when a missionary is sent to my people group?

Yes, by email. When possible, we will send you an update about your group. If, however, your group is located in an area of the world that is closed to missions, we may not be able to send you the details. We also may not be able to send you the details if the translation project is taken over by a national translator (a translator translating into his or her own mother tongue).

Please be patient and persevere in prayer while you wait for your updates. Sometimes God uses years of prayer to open the door to closed communities.

Can I really make a difference by just praying?

Yes! God says the prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective. Ultimately, it is God who changes people’s hearts through Bible translation. But we believe that he has called his people to partner with him by praying for the harvest.

Do I have to commit to praying for my language group every day? What if I forget?

You can choose to pray for your people group as often as you would like. Some people commit to pray every day during their quiet time. Others prayer partners pray weekly when they meet with their small group. Still others pray from time to time as God prompts them.

Where are the Bibleless people groups located?

The majority of Bibleless people groups are located in Asia, Africa and the Pacific region. However, Bibleless people groups can be found on all six habitable continents.

How many Bibleless people groups are there?

Due to many factors, such as the discovery or extinction of languages, the number of Bibleless people groups is always changing. Currently, there are more than 1,600 languages that have a definite or likely translation need. However, the pace of Bible translation is accelerating as never before, and new projects are beginning all the time. God is at work and we believe this is a direct answer to prayer.

Why don't Bibleless people groups have the Bible?

Bibleless people groups are “Bibleless” for a variety of reasons. Many Bibleless people groups are small in number and speak minority languages that are known only within their communities. These small groups have had limited contact from the outside world or little attention from missionary agencies. Other people groups may be significant in size, but are difficult for missionaries to access because of their remote or sensitive locations.

Why can't you teach a Bibleless people group to read English or a national language?

Requiring knowledge of another language marginalizes the importance of a person’s heart language and also vastly limits their understanding. The heart language reaches to the inner depths of a person and can best express God's eternal message. It is the language most clearly understood and in which ideas are most clearly expressed by an individual or people group. Scriptures in another language can limit (and often change) a person’s understanding of the gospel.

How do I sign up to pray for a specific area of the world?

Contact us and tell us what area you’re interested in. Depending on what God has laid on your heart, we can either send you information about a Bibleless people group in that area or about a missionary serving there.

NOTE: Due to the sensitivity of our work, we may not be able to give you complete information about some areas of the world.