Why Pray for Missionaries? (Part Two)
Last week, we began our discussion in response to the question, “Do missionaries really need your prayers?” As I mentioned in part 1 of the post, this is in no way a comprehensive list of how you can pray for your missionaries, but I believe it will serve as a good springboard.
A great prayer warrior once said, “Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men greater still.” This does not diminish the urgency of evangelism, but it emphasizes the importance of communicating with our Heavenly Father and lifting up someone else before our Lord. Our missionaries need prayer not only for their relationship with the Lord and their family as we talked about last week, but also in multiple other areas. I have three remaining items that I believe are important to keep in mind as we pray for missionaries.
HOW TO PRAY FOR MISSIONARIES (CONTINUED)
3) Pray for their ministry’s health.
Ministry can be slow or fast on the field, just as it can be stateside. Whether your missionary is winning 5 people to Christ, or 5,000, pray for their obedience to the Lord’s direction. Find out what stage your missionary is in and pray for them specifically. Is your missionary spending time making phone calls and scheduling appointments and traveling around the country? Is your missionary new on the field and trying to learn some strange, tonal language and trying to get a grasp of the culture?
Basic stages of a missionary’s ministry life-cycle can look something like this:
- Deputation– sharing their burden for the field the Lord has called them to and proclaiming the Gospel (with lots of phone and windshield time).
- First Term on the Field– adapting to the culture and language studies while serving in areas available.
- Second and future terms– preparing to plant a church, train up leadership, and duplicate this process in the years to come.
Pray specifically for your missionary!
4) Pray for their friendships.
Missionaries need friendships on the field as well as off the field. They are more than likely going to spend the remaining bulk of their lives on the foreign field. Pray that they build strong friendships there and that they can have accountability. There is no better way to learn a foreign culture than through making friends. Your friends will tell you why something is done and not just the “what” of the tradition. It was through my Thai friends that I started to understand the humor of the Thai language and culture (I refrain from telling a Thai joke here because it would make no sense in English). Missionaries also need friends off the field for encouragement, prayer, and to keep them in the loop (or at least help them to not feel like a complete alien upon returning after four years on the field).
Pray for the friends of your missionary’s children, the MKs. These “third-culture kids” need to be making friends on the field and be willing to do the same when they return from the field. I will never forget upon returning to the States (after being absent for 6 years) and going to the bank with a friend to open my first US bank account. He got a front row seat to watch me struggle to act like I understood what the bank clerk was saying and then fish around in my pocket for my social security card (first time I had ever used my social, and I didn’t know that most people memorize their numbers). It was an interesting experience to say the least! My Thai friends helped me to love Thailand, and my American friends helped me to adjust back to the States and enjoy it! I’m thankful for my friends that have challenged me to grow on both continents. Pray that these MKs make good friends on both sides of the world.
5) Pray for their physical health.
Although the battle we fight is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual principalities and powers, missionaries still need to be conscientious about their physical health. Your missionary needs to understand that working hard is good, but maintaining their health is a necessity. Also, pray for their physical safety. Motor accidents are a weekly event for many missionaries overseas. I cannot tell you how many times I believe God spared my life during a motor accident! Not to mention all the miles missionaries travel while raising support or reporting back to churches! Pray that the Lord keeps them from sickness. There are missionaries that live in tough physical conditions, surrounded by people who fall sick with dengue fever, malaria, pneumonia, etc. Pray for the missionaries that will birth children overseas. You would probably be surprised at how nice and professional certain hospitals are overseas, but not everyone has the luxury of being near to those hospitals. None of us can take for granted the air we are breathing as we read this–thank the Lord that He cares for us and protects us from so much.
There are so many more specific items that you can pray for your missionary about, but these will definitely serve as a great starting point. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to hear someone say, “We have been praying for you and your family.” Kayti and I were at a conference in Florida, and on the second night, an elderly gentleman extended his hand after taking one of our prayer cards and said, “My wife and I pray every morning for an hour, and we pray for all our missionaries. I’m going to add you to that list.” Wow, talk about feeling blessed and convicted at the same time! It is a blessing to have a prayer warrior petitioning on our behalf. It is also convicting because I know my prayer time is far behind that man and his wife’s prayer life. What a privilege it is that we can communicate with the Creator of the universe and that He cares for us!
Do missionaries need your prayers? Yes, and again I say yes! Would you join me in being more intentional about praying for our missionaries?
What are some ways you remember to pray for your missionary? I would love to hear from you!