Why Pray for Missionaries? (Part One)
If you have been a member at a church for any amount of time, you probably (or I should say, hopefully!) see and hear missionaries on a regular basis throughout the year. Typically, you hear a request for prayer and a challenge to consider giving to missions and to consider joining them on the field. I think most people easily see the need for finances, to pay for the rent of a church building, purchase airfare, health insurance, costs of ministry events and outreach, and the list goes on and on. I also think most would even see the need for more missionaries to go. Today, however, I ask you to consider whether missionaries truly need your prayers or if it just an empty plea that sounds good from a pulpit. I’d like to take some time to tell you why missionaries really need your prayers, and how you can pray for them more specifically and effectively. I’ve split this post into two articles for the sake of your attention span. You’re welcome 🙂
E. M. Bounds, a great man of prayer, once said it this way: “Four things let us ever keep in mind: God hears prayer, God heeds prayer, God answers prayer, and God delivers by prayer.”
Without prayer where would we be? Without prayer we (the missionaries) would never make it through internships, scheduling, traveling, sharing the need of the country and the Gospel, or arriving on the field and serving faithfully (something I am still looking forward to doing). We would be too discouraged to call the next pastor to schedule an appointment. We would be too frustrated with our mechanical issues that crop up at only the most untimely moments. We would be frozen with the fear of the unknown that will take place in another country, and feel defeated when things don’t work like we have carefully planned.
Should you pray for your friends and family? No doubt! Should you pray for your pastor and church staff? Yes, and again, yes! I speak specifically of praying for missionaries, not because our calling is necessarily more difficult, but it comes with specific challenges that are particular to the call. This list will not be comprehensive or exhaustive by any means, but I believe it will be a good start, nonetheless. It may also stimulate food for thought or shall I say, thought for prayer.
HOW TO PRAY FOR MISSIONARIES
1) Pray for their relationship with the Lord.
This is not limited to just missionaries but for everyone who is a believer! God must always be the priority. Too many times we assume that the person in the spiritual spotlight is in perfect fellowship with God. The truth is, we are broken sinners like everyone else. Pray that your missionary is faithful in studying God’s Word and cultivating his personal relationship with God, regardless of how “busy” the ministry becomes. Pray that he is growing closer to Christ every day! I believe the Devil’s greatest desire for your missionary is that they grow so busy in doing horizontal ministry that they forget their responsibility to do vertical ministry. Your missionary needs your prayers.
2) Pray for their relationship with their family.
Having spent 19 years in the missionary realm while growing up in a missionary family, I can say that I am thankful that my parents gave my brother and me priority. You and I can probably recall when a missionary or minister put “his” ministry before his family. . . . I say “his” ministry because I believe at that point they forgot who their ministry was for. Before you gasp, I am not saying that ministry is not important; I am however, saying that if we make the mistake of placing our ministry above our family, we will lose our ministry. I was blessed to see my parents have a dedicated family day that was spent with family! Were there ever exceptions made? Sure, but it was not the norm. We traveled with my Dad more often than not and my mother homeschooled us in cars, under trees, and in rural, dusty cities. Pray that your missionaries grow in their relationship with their spouses, children, and the family they leave in their passport country. It is not easy for your missionary to miss attending countless birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and various family get-togethers. Your missionary has to be intentional about staying in contact with his family both on the field and off.
Pray for your missionaries that have children to be mindful of the cultural changes that their children will go through. It’s not easy for adults to adjust to another culture, but at least the adults can study and research and prepare mentally for the cultural change. Their children don’t always have that benefit, depending on the age. I was three when we landed in Bangkok, Thailand. For the longest time, my life just seemed to be a blur of traveling–near, far, stuck in traffic, flying down dirt roads in a pickup truck into villages–having no concept of distance and time (realizing that asking, “are we there yet?”never accelerated our trip). Kayti and I are going to be taking a baby boy probably around 5 months old to Thailand! We need prayer about raising children on the field. Pray that your missionary involves his family with the ministry. It’s not a sin to make ministry fun for the family. Just think of how effective the missionary family can be if EVERYONE is engaged in the ministry–not forced, but actively engaged.
Pray for your missionary’s relationship with his spouse. It goes without saying that the relationship between husband and wife must be cultivated on a daily basis. Adapting to a foreign culture, learning a new language, and making a home overseas is a challenge that every missionary must tackle. This can be a stress on the couple that is going through these changes. I am so thankful for Kayti! She is my best friend and there is no one else on the planet that I would rather go through this life’s adventure with! The Lord has taught me so much through her and I am looking to how the Lord will continue to grow our family! I also pray that the Lord will guide us through this year of transition, because it will be a change that we are excited about, but we know we will need His guidance.
Pray that your missionary stays faithful and continues to grow closer to his spouse. Serving in missions does not make you exempt from temptation and struggles in your marriage. Pray for your missionary.
Come back next week for more ways you can be praying for your missionary!
In the meantime, please feel free to share your thoughts. What are some areas you think
are important as you pray for missionaries?