I don’t know about you, but I have to keep a prayer journal. I have to write out the things I want to pray about, or somehow all my prayers turn into requests and most of them are only for myself or my family. I suddenly forget the things I know I should pray for on a regular basis. So I keep a journal. It’s nothing special…I have a section for daily requests, which are things I pray for every day (like safety for my family). I have a page for each day of the week, too, so that I can pray for certain things weekly. One of the things I pray for every Monday is for missions. (Get it? Monday and Missions? Not all my weekly requests line up this well, but I saw an opportunity and ran with it…).
Praying for missions isn’t something I have done a lot. But recently I’ve felt that it’s extremely important to do so, since missions is one of the most straightforward commands Jesus gave the church. So on Mondays, I pray for missions in general, and then I pray for 2 areas specifically.
One is for the University of Houston’s Baptist Student Ministry – my best friend is the director, so I get to hear a lot of the prayer needs that they have, and I pray for them on a weekly basis. Even though a college ministry like the BSM may not seem very missions-like, trust me – it is! They probably meet more nonbelievers in a single day than some international vocational missionaries meet in a month.
The other area I pray for on Mondays is for a missions group in Europe. My wife went on a short term mission trip to Germany when she was in college (before she met me…), and of course, she became friends with the vocational missionaries living there. Since that time, I’ve had the opportunity to meet them, and they are a great couple, both of whom love the Lord and have a heart for Germany and all of Europe. They send my wife a “prayer and praise” list every Monday, and she recently began sending it to me. I specifically pray for the things they mention there on a weekly basis. (If you’re interested in their group, their website is here).
Today’s Bible study talked about praying for missions, as well as praying for missionaries. We know that we are all called to missions, but we also know that some people are called to vocational missions service, and we should definitely spend time in praying for them specifically. If you’re like me, you probably haven’t always known what to pray for when praying for missionaries. Until I started receiving the specific requests from my wife’s friends, I didn’t pray very specifically for any missionaries – I just prayed for their overall success worldwide. But in my study today, it talked about things that, Biblically-speaking, we can and should pray for missionaries on a regular basis. They called it the A-F Prayer Requests for missionaries:
Paul is considered the first Christian missionary. He often asked the churches he had previously been with to pray for his continued missionary efforts, and we can take his requests and offer them up for today’s missionaries as well. One thing he asked prayer for was that he would be accepted by his coworkers, or other believers.
“Pray…that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there” (Romans 15:31b)
In the KJV, it translates “contribution” as “service”. My study commented that “church planters often face some of their greatest resistance from existing churches.” God desires that His church be unified, and therefore we can pray that this would be the case among missionaries as they minister together throughout the world.
In Ephesians 6:19, Paul asked:
“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel”
My study commented that “speaking boldly in a second language, in a strange culture, and in threatening circumstances is not easy.” I kind of think that speaking boldly about Christ here in my hometown, in my own language, in my own culture, isn’t easy either! So we can and should pray that missionaries would speak boldly and courageously for Christ wherever they are.
You know why I’m not a preacher? Other than the fact that I’m not called to be (that I know of…). I’m just not a good public speaker. I bumble up my words too much, and have a hard time getting my message across. Sometimes, I do the same thing in one-on-one conversations. I even do the same thing in my writing (if you read this blog, you already know this…). A missionary builds relationships with people and speaks to them, both in large groups and one-on-one, so being able to clearly speak the message of Christ to others is important. In speaking to the Colossians, Paul asked for prayer in this area, and we can pray similarly for missionaries today:
“Pray that I may proclaim [our message…the mystery of Christ] clearly, as I should.” (Colossians 4:4, emphasis added)
It’s no secret that missions can be dangerous. People all over the world suffer from persecution as they proclaim Christ and His salvation. Even people in our own hometowns are persecuted just for being Christians. Paul knew that he was in a dangerous line of work, so he asked:
“Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea…” (Romans 15:31a)
“…pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith.” (2 Thessalonians 3:2)
We should continue to pray for the safety and deliverance of missionaries throughout the world.
Paul asked that the Colossians:
“…pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ…” (Colossians 4:3)
Something I almost always see in prayer requests from missionaries is for “doors to be opened.” God has an amazing way of working situations out so that we can talk to people about Jesus, and praying for Him to do this for missionaries is important. And not just personal situations like resistant attitudes and opportunities – many other doors must also be opened, especially in international missions. There’s a lot that goes on in getting a missionary to other countries- legal issues like passports and visas, and travel issues. There’s a blog I read now and then by a woman who knows that her place of service is as a missionary. I’ve read several of her posts that she wrote as she was struggling with closed doors to getting where she believed she was supposed to be. She’s a great example of someone who we should pray for doors to be opened. (Read her blog here – and pray for her, I’m sure she would appreciate it!)
Paul asks for a special prayer in 2 Thessalonians 3:1:
“…pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored”
I really like the wording in the KJV:
“…pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified…”
You know what I think of when I think of something spreading rapidly and having “free course”?? A wildfire. Paul asks that they pray that the message of the Lord – the Gospel – spread like a fire. That kind of effectiveness is known in many places in the Bible as bearing fruit. When something takes root so well that it spreads rapidly, and when something is received this favorably, it is surely bearing fruit, and Paul is asking that they pray for their work to be fruitful.
So there we have it. A nice, easily-memorizable list of things we can pray for missionaries. And not just missionaries, but for ourselves as we are on mission in our everyday lives. I think I’m going to copy this down into my prayer journal, to help guide me to pray a little more specifically for missions every Monday.