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Four Ways to Actually Pray for Missionaries

Four Ways to Actually Pray for Missionaries

“I’ll be praying for you.”

“You’re in my prayers.”

“I’ll remember to pray for you whenever the Lord brings you to mind.”

I’ve said these words a million times, and I’m sure you have too. Prayer is important; we all know that. We know it’s also very important to pray for missionaries, pastors, and others in Christian service. They are on the frontlines of the Great Commission, facing near-constant spiritual attacks. But what if we don’t know much about the missionary or the location? What do missionaries need prayer for, anyway?
How do we make praying for missionaries a regular practice?

When I have needed the most prayer on the mission field, it’s also been the most emotionally and physically challenging time to send out requests for prayer. It’s as if the devil knows I desperately need prayer support and does everything possible to prevent me from sending the appeal.

Missionaries are real people with real doubts, fears, challenges, and struggles. They face spiritual battles, cultural and language barriers, and physical exhaustion. They need our prayers to face each day with wisdom, grace, and strength from on high.

The following Bible verses easily apply to any Christian, especially those serving in ministry. For the sake of focusing on missions, we will look at them through the lens of the missionary. (All scriptures are taken from the NIV.)

  1. Pray that missionaries will speak God’s message clearly and boldly.

    Early believers knew they needed God’s divine power to confront the evil attacks of Satan coming through Jewish religious leaders and Roman leaders. They prayed specifically for “great boldness” to be poured out on those who were proclaiming the gospel of Christ.

    The Apostle Paul knew he needed the prayers of God’s people so he could be strengthened by God to make His message go forth with freedom and power. It was a life or death matter. In Colossians 4:2–4, Paul gives several prayer requests: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.”

    In 2 Thessalonians 3:1, Paul shares a similar prayer request: “…brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.”

  2. Pray for the protection of missionaries from the attacks of Satan and evildoers.

    In 2 Thessalonians 3:2 and Romans 15:30–31, Paul requested prayer for his safety, that he would be rescued from the unbelievers and evil men who were trying to destroy his ministry. He was clearly aware of the devil’s attacks, and he warned Christians to be careful and alert.

    We need to pray that missionaries will daily “put on the full armor of God, so that [they] can take [their] stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against…the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil…” (Ephesians 6:11–12).

    Is it biblically acceptable to pray for safety? Don’t we need to be willing to put ourselves in harm’s way if we are serving God? It’s true; God can protect us. But it doesn’t mean we are not vulnerable to attacks from Satan or people. Missionaries follow Paul’s example of requesting prayer for safety so when those prayers are answered, all the glory goes to God. In 2 Corinthians 1:8–11, Paul gives us a great example of the stress and dangers he had to endure as a missionary. The outcome of answered prayer is praise to God for His grace.

    Prayer is amazing! It’s through prayer that we get to work in concert with God. Through our fervent prayers for missionaries, we can show our love and support for His work and see Him move in miraculous ways to expand His kingdom. It’s an awesome privilege to do battle in the heavenly realm through prayer. We can only imagine the hidden reality of the flashes of light penetrating the darkness around us when the angels of God do warfare with the forces of darkness.

    Jesus Himself prayed for His disciples and all of us who would believe in Him through the gospel message. In John 17:15, Jesus prayed that God the Father would protect us from the evil one—meaning the devil, of course—and all his host of wicked demons trying to destroy the good work of God in the world.

  3. Pray for the sanctification of missionaries’ lives, hearts, and work.

    In John 17:16–19, Jesus prayed for the sanctification of His disciples, which includes us as a Church and the missionaries who take the Word of God to other cultures.

    The word “sanctify” Jesus uses means “to set apart a person for a sacred use or to make holy.” When we are called to serve God, we are set apart for His use. Pray that God will purify the missionaries each day for His purpose. Because missionaries are real people, they are vulnerable to temptations leading them astray. Pray that God will preserve them in the way of holiness as they proclaim His message to others through their words and lifestyle. Pray that they will display the fruit of the Spirit and serve others in love.

    When hardships and difficulties are encountered on the mission field, it’s easy to question your calling and usefulness for the kingdom of God. I’ve wondered if I’m making a difference at all. Missionaries become shadowed in doubt and fear, not knowing if we are really doing God’s will. This is a direct attack from the dark forces of the devil. We as a Church must pray that God will renew their calls, strengthen their feeble hearts, and establish them on solid ground when the going gets tough.

    In Romans 15:30–32, Paul wrote: “I urge you…by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed.”

    Paul was exhausted from his ministry, and he knew he had to build up his prayer team to support him in his struggle. He needed them to pray for him so he would one day return to them and be “refreshed” or renewed.

    Missionaries need those times of refreshment, and WGM makes providing special times of renewal for missionaries a priority. Missionaries need those times to “sanctify” themselves by the truth of the Word of God and dispel the darkness of doubt that brings discouragement to their hearts.

  4. Pray for the spiritual, physical, emotional, and relational needs of missionaries.
    • Pray that they will develop a closer walk with God each day, depending on Him for every breath and step. Spiritually, missionaries are expected to give an example and live above reproach. Missionaries become spiritual giants in the eyes of many, but they are just frail human beings with a great need for friendship with God. Pray that they will love Jesus with all their hearts.
    • Pray for physical health and that they will have all daily bread supplied in abundance. Pray that they will be supplied with every good thing to accomplish the task set before them. Pray for protection from illness and disease and that medical care will be supplied when needed.
    • Pray for their emotional health. Cross-cultural living can be extremely emotionally stressful. Even the simplest things—finding clean water to bathe or riding on public transportation—can be a stress, exacerbated by overwhelming cultural and language barriers. Misunderstandings of expectations by the host people can also lead to emotional stress. Pray that missionaries are able to learn ways to adjust and cope with these differences.
    • Pray for developing relationships on the mission field. Pray that God will open doors for missionaries to make at least one close friend to be a help and encouragement. Pray that daily routines of shopping for food, working on visas, or finding transportation may be times where they are met with God’s unexpected joys and kindness. Pray that the relationships the missionaries develop will be real and heartfelt, so the gospel message can be shared with sincerity and honesty. Pray for unity among missionaries.

In John 17:20–26, Jesus prayed for unity in His Church body. Unity is the most important thing we share with our heavenly Father, and it is through Jesus and His Holy Spirit that we have perfect unity. Unity in the Church, on the mission field, and in our relationships with others who love God is what Christian life is meant to be.

Action Step

PRAY: Please pray for the missionaries and other workers God has laid on your heart. Pray for them when you see their picture on your fridge or read their updates on Facebook. Pray when God awakens you at night. Pray for them when you see news of world events. Although you may not see how, God is moving through missionaries across His great creation to make His name known and to bring salvation to the ends of the earth. Here's a helpful resource.

John Kunkle, Missionary to Texas/Mexico Border Ministries
The Call (March 2018)

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