You want to pray for a missionary, but where do you start? How do you pray for people who live in a place you know little about, who work in a language you don’t speak, who may eat breakfast while you’re going to bed, and who may not be back for some years.
We’ve brought together a few ideas to help you pray for the situations and circumstances missionaries face.
Your Partnership in the Gospel
God has a great part for you to play in mission, building his church world-wide. No Christian worker, whether at home or overseas, can ‘go it alone’, they need the support of a team. Through praying for someone regularly, you join that team. Whether you pray, provide financial support, or work to plant churches yourself, you are playing your part in world mission. Prayer also changes us too, right here. Strengthening our reliance on God and deepening our relationship with him.
‘I am not asking you just to give “help” in prayer as a sort of side line, but I am trying to roll the main responsibility of this prayer warfare on you. I want you to take the burden of these people upon your shoulders. I want you to wrestle with God for them.’ J O Fraser (1886 – 1938), missionary to Lisu people, sent to his prayer group in Letchworth.
Their Prayer Letter
Missionaries usually write regular prayer letters, so why not ask to receive them? This will help keep you informed of their work and personal needs. Spiritual work can bring tears as well as joy; disappointment as well as hope. Working as a missionary can be lonely, so pray both regularly and specifically for their needs.
Their Personal Needs
- Pray that your friends will feel at home in a new country, culture and climate, and for good relationships in the new community they find themselves in.
- Grasping the language takes time. Pray as your friends learn a new language, understand its nuances and attempt to communicate. Pray against setbacks and discouragement.
- Pray for their language helpers; people with the courage to correct and advise, and who will encourage your friends in their work.
- Pray for good relationships with national Christian leaders and with fellow workers, some of whom may come from different cultures and countries.
- Pray for happy family times together, and for the children to love and serve the Lord.
- Pray for their children, for good friendships; particularly if they are at school in a different country.
- Pray for the realities of being away from extended families – from their own parents and siblings etc, and that they will be able to enjoy those links despite the distance.
- Pray that parents at home won’t worry about their children, but rather rejoice in their opportunity to serve, and support them.
- Pray also for when parents at home become elderly or frail, and for the those who support them. Ask for God’s provision and care in every aspect.
- If the missionary is single, feelings of loneliness and isolation may creep in. Pray for good, sustaining friendships, for holiday arrangements and time to relax and unwind.
- Pray for couples, that their marriages will be strengthened, and they’ll grow in their experiences together.
- Pray for your friends when it’s time to adjust back to life in their own country. Pray that as they visit churches and supporters they would build strong links and renew relationships.
- Pray for the leaders in your friends’ country, as we’re encouraged to do in 1 Timothy 2:1–4.
- Pray for freedom to preach the gospel, and for political stability.
- Find out as much as you can about the country, its history, and its current events. Ask your mission friends if there are particular books that will help you understand their context.
- Read the Operation World book, DVD or go to www.operationworld.org.
- Keep an eye on the events there via the web, or TV. Pray when you watch or read news reports.
- Ask for regular prayer letters and fact sheets on the countries they work in and have web sites and magazines available.
The National Church
- Pray for the church leaders and all believers in your friends’ country. Pray for spiritual growth, and for their ability to teach, preach, disciple and witness. Pray for vision and for love, and for any resources that are needed.
- Pray for the Christians to be ‘salt and light’ in their neighbourhoods, society or government, and for good relations with those around them.
Praying with Others
Most Christian organisations have prayer networks throughout the country. Contact the organisation your friends went out with to ask to be put in touch with a group near you.
OMF has Mission Cells and prayer groups that meet to encourage each other and see God’s kingdom grow. If there isn’t one near you, you could start one!
Pray as Paul Prayed
The apostle Paul was a pioneer missionary and a pray-er. He was beaten, imprisoned and shipwrecked, but never lost sight of the goal. He asked his friends to pray:
• For boldness
‘Pray… that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel… Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.’ (Ephesians 6:19, 20)
• For opportunity and clarity
‘Pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ… Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.’ (Colossians 4:3, 4)
• For protection
‘Pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.’
(2 Thessalonians 3:2, 3)
• For their spiritual walk
‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ (Romans 15:13)
• With thanksgiving
‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’ (Philippians 4:6)
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