Prayer for Missionaries
Below are 20 points relating to praying for missionaries that you may find useful:
Know the Facts
It is difficult to pray effectively unless you understand the situation intimately. Be prepared to spend time and money in writing to missionaries so that you know the issues that need prayer, the opportunities being presented and the opposition being faced.
It is impossible to have an in-depth appreciation of a large number of missionary situations. Ask the Lord to show you the one or the few for whom you are to take this responsibility. Establish and maintain a personal link.
Know About the Mission
Nearly all missionaries are members of missionary societies. Write to their home office to discover the principles and methods on which the society operates and the goals they are planning to reach.
Understand the True Nature of the Missionary's Work
Types of missionary service are many and varied. A missionary can be a Bible teacher, evangelist, doctor, administrator, teacher, mechanic, pilot, builder, engineer etc. But alongside the “technical task, the missionary is above all else a soldier fighting in a spiritual conflict against satanic forces. Know the spiritual strategy so you can stand in faith for the advances of the Kingdom.
Recognise the Factors that Oppose
Many factors can lead to the missionary’s discouragement. Here are a few:
- Living in an alien culture
- Working amongst an unresponsive or hostile people
- Shortage of personnel leading to work overload
- Ministry often involving being away from wife and family
- Tension between the demands of “the work” and the needs of the family
- Physical discomfort in sub-standard living conditions
- Problem-solving and counselling in another language
- Limited fellowship with others of like mind
- Government or local official harassments
- For single workers loneliness
That the Missionary Will Know His/Her Authority Over Satan
The missionary must learn to resist Satan, take his place of authority over him and refuse everything that comes from him (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5: 8-9). “The accuser of brethren” is always ready to suggest to him that he is a failure or is out of the will of the Lord (Revelation 12: 10-11). Christ’s defeat of Satan at Calvary was complete (Colossians 2:15). Christ has given the authority to His servants to enforce this defeat: “I will give unto you power… over all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19). Satan will not recognize this defeat until forced to do so by the servant of Christ.
The Missionary's Spiritual Vitality
The key to victory is the missionary’s own personal relationship with the Lord. An angry word, an impatient gesture and he has lost his testimony with the nationals. Ask God to keep him faithful in personal Bible study and prayer so that his inner man RENEWED day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). The biggest danger for any Christian worker is spiritual dryness.
The Missionary's Physical Vitality
One of the missionary’s biggest snares is overwork. The bottleneck in missions is personnel and the usual thing is for the missionary to over-stretch himself by taking on too much work and having insufficient rest so that his efficiency is eventually impaired. Pray that he will recognize the danger signals before it is too late. Pray too that the missionary will know God’s protection from all accidents in travel and from sickness.
The Missionary's Mental Vitality
Constantly adjusting to the language and thought forms of another culture can be a wearing experience. Problem solving in an alien culture brings extra tensions not present when working at home. Pressure of work tempts the missionary to give up reading books that enliven and stretch his mental facilities. Absence of a wide (and therefore stimulating) circle of friends can also have a deadening effect. Depression can come through the sheer presence of forces of darkness. Pray that he may walk in the light of Christ’s loving presence (John 8:12) and know how to refuse Satan’s ministry of depression.
The Missionary's Family
Even when remaining “on top”, many missionaries have been limited and frustrated by the enemy’s counter-attack through the family. Children become sick while he is away on a special assignment. His wife can succumb to loneliness and depression. Missionaries can be asked to return home to care for parents experiencing health deterioration.
The Missionary's Attitude to Other Missionaries
It may be far harder to love that fellow-worker who is always at hand and from whom there is no escape than the national. God’s fullest blessings are realized where there is unity and love between workers (Psalm 133).
The Missionary's Attitude to the Lost
Again, natural love fails to meet the test; often the missionary is not appreciated by the nationals. He is often considered as a foreigner and neither he nor his message is wanted. Only through patience and love can the missionary win through to acceptance. (2 Corinthians 5:14a).
The Missionary's Relationship to National Christians
Meekness is the key. In a day of nationalism and increasing international tension, the only hope for a missionary’s effectiveness is to have a spirit of brokenness and servant-hood as he works with and often under the leadership of national brethren.
A Strong National Church in the Missionary's Area
The missionary may be forced to leave a country at any time, but if the national church is established, the work will go on. The Spirit-filled national is usually more effective in his witness to his own people than the missionary. Pray for effectiveness of Bible Schools and other means of training the national believers (Matthew 28: 19-20).
The Strengthening of the Missionary's Team
We are specifically commanded to pray that God will thrust out more laborers into the harvest. Pray that young people in Bible Schools at home will realize the need of the field and respond. Pray for nationals in Bible Schools on the field. Pray that those who teach them may inspire missionary vision and avoid the pitfall of merely academic education.
Pray With Faith
If God is leading you to pray, then He means you to pray in line with His purpose. Prayer is not persuading a reluctant God, but cooperating with Him in His strategy. Prayer should not be “asking and hoping”, but “knowing and receiving” (Mark 11: 22-24). Pray with Christ’s delegated authority, that is, “in the name of Jesus” (John 14: 13-14; 15:16; 16: 23-24).
Pray Consistently and Persistently
(Luke 11: 1-10) Don’t just pray about. Pray through, until you reach a place of inner confidence, release and praise on a particular issue. Ask that you be kept consistently sensitive to the Holy Spirit so that you can enter effectively into the spiritual conflict as and when required.
Praise God For the Answer
Praise God when answers come, but praise Him also “by faith” before they come. “Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything: tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers” (Philippines 4:6, Living Bible).
Share your own personal news with the missionary. He will appreciate knowing about the person who is prepared to identify with him. Likely enough YOU will go in HIS prayer list.
Prove the Sincerity of Your Prayers - Offer Practical Help
James teaches that the reality of our faith is proved by our works. Ask the missionary if there is anything of a practical nature you can do to help. Here are some possible activities:
- Distributing his prayer letter
- Interested others in his ministry and related projects
- Organizing a prayer group
- Sending up-to-date magazines or books
- Remembering his children on special occasions
- Volunteering to help his mission organization at home