Our guest post today is from Will, a cross-cultural worker who trains leaders in another part of the world. He writes from his experience, so I encourage you to hear him.
Most believers realize that missionaries need prayer. Their disconnect comes in knowing how to pray for them. The sad reality is that this lack of knowledge means many churches simply say: “God bless the missionaries.” This prayer method is certainly not bad, but it is far from the best. So how can churches pray more effectively for missionaries?
- Get to know us, and pray for our ministry. The best remedy for this problem is to get to know “real live” missionaries and ask us how you can be praying for us. Most of us compose a regular prayer newsletter that outlines specific and strategic prayer needs, so ask your pastors to connect you with one of us.
- Pray for our people. Missionaries carry the enormous burden each day that their target people group would come to know Christ. Living in isolated places, often disconnected from the outside world or even other believers, we face doubts that slowly creep in: Does anyone else care if these people accept Christ? Is anyone else even praying for them? If you want to pray for a missionary, ask about our people – and then pray for them.
- Pray for our physical health. Mission leaders often send people to “hard places” with little clean water and no adequate medical facilities. Moreover, the markets where food is purchased or the restaurants where food is prepared are often unsanitary. Pollution can be so bad that our lungs look like smoker’s lungs. Pray for us to stay healthy so we continue to faithfully proclaim God’s Word.
- Pray for our spiritual health. Similarly, some missionaries live in places that are spiritually hard, wrestling in a battle against “this present darkness” (Eph 6:12). Since we are putting ourselves in spiritually dark locations, our walk with the Lord is critical. Pray for us to pursue holiness each day. Pray we would have other believers – perhaps even some from our target group – who would encourage us and challenge us to stay faithful.
- Pray for our marriages. Paul teaches that marriage is a picture of the gospel (Eph 5:31) and that a healthy marriage is critical to ministry effectiveness (1 Tim 3:2-5). In some parts of the world, though, missionaries who cannot live in the same location as their target people must travel long periods of time to gain access to them. Such travel can strain a marriage. Language study and cultural adjustments also affect marriages. Pray that both husband and wife would share a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their missionary calling.
- Pray for our families. Issues like whether our children adjust well to a new cultural setting, have a stable schooling environment, or develop local friendships can affect the health and happiness of the family. At the same time, many missionaries struggle to support and care for aging parents from a distance. Pray for wisdom as we lead our families.
- Pray for our ability to communicate. One of the primary markers of long-term effectiveness on the field is the ability to communicate well in the target language. Language learning is certainly a challenge for those new to the field, but maintaining and improving language ability can also be challenging. Pray that we would love our target language and would choose to be life-long learners.
- Pray for us to have boldness. In Ephesians 6:20 Paul asked this church to pray that “words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.” Missionaries sometimes fear that sharing too openly could draw the attention of authorities, lead to persecution, or cause a loss of visa. Like Paul, we need the Spirit to embolden us to faithfully share the Word with the lost around us. Pray we will have this boldness.
If you are a missionary, what would you add to this list? Or, are there other ways you and your church pray for missionaries?