When asked what their greatest need is, the vast majority of missionaries will say that the thing they need and value the most is the PRAYER of God’s people.
They don’t say that because they think that’s what missionaries are supposed to say. They say it because the level of spiritual warfare they’ve experienced on their path to the field, and since they arrived there, has convinced them it’s true.
They’ve discovered that their spiritual and emotional health, and their ministry effectiveness are linked in a “cause and effect” type relationship with the God-directed pleas of their brethren on their behalf. They understand that prayer from fellow believers serves as both a fuel and a lubricant for the vehicle that their lives and ministry are for His glory among the nations.
Paul wasn’t shy about sharing his trying experiences and asking his brethren in local churches to keep him in prayer as he moved forward in obedience to God’s missionary call on his life, (2 Cor 1:8-11). He assumed that churches were praying for him and shared with them his belief in God’s answer to their prayers for him, (Phil 1:18-20).
PRAYER–A NO-LIMIT OPPORTUNITY TO PARTICIPATE
Although a local church’s financial participation in the life and ministry of their missionaries may be limited, there is no limit to the level of prayer participation it can have both corporately and individually on behalf of their fellow members that God has called to serve on the mission field.
With these things in mind, Shepherd’s Staff likes to challenge church leaders to consider increasing the breadth and the intensity of prayer that is being lifted to God for their missionaries. Here are seven simple steps that a pastor or leader of a local church can take in order to do so:
1—CONTACT your missionaries
Tell them that the church leadership has been moved by God to mobilize more prayer for them on a more regular basis.
2—INVITE them to send weekly prayer requests to you
Encourage them to succinctly write out two specific issues that they would like to have lifted to the Lord by their brethren, on a weekly basis.
3—DISTRIBUTE their prayer requests
Pass their requests on by email or other electronic means to the church staff and the leaders of the church, challenging them to pass them on to those they lead.
4—PRAY PUBLICLY at every church gathering
Think of what the effect might be if every time the church gathered—at every Sunday morning service, every Sunday school class, every men and women’s gathering, and every small group–even one minute was taken to name one of the church’s missionaries, say where they serve, and lift up one of their prayer requests.
5—CHALLENGE your church members
Depending on the security situation of your missionary, exhort your church members as individuals or as groups, to write to them and let them know they are praying for the specific thing the missionary had asked prayer for.
6—ASK your missionaries
Encourage your missionaries to express their thanks to those who let them know they are praying, and more importantly, strongly suggest that if God does answer one of their prayer requests, they should let you and the praying church member know about it as soon as possible.
7—BLESS your church members
When your missionary lets you or a member of your church know about God’s response to their specific prayer, pass on the blessing by announcing it at every church gathering in the next seven days, and then stand in awe as interest in and prayer for your missionaries increases.
Prayer is one of the simplest, yet most powerful ways the leaders and members of local churches can participate in what God is doing in and through missionaries around the world. The difference doing so makes in the lives of missionaries AND the life of the church and it’s members brings glory and honor to God locally and globally.
**For a great resource on how to pray specifically for missionaries, click here