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It’s easy to pray for your husband and your children, for work so you can pay all the bills on time, and even for Spot to have an easy labor and deliver healthy puppies. But what about prayers for missionaries?
How do you pray for people you’ve probably never met, in a country you’ve never been to, doing a work you can’t relate to?
I’ve often wanted to pray more effectively for missionaries and what God is doing around the world, but the truth is I usually forget or have no clue what to pray.
I started to use a prayer journal, or what some would call a “War Binder.” As a family, we also began to pray together. We hung up a world map (now 2!), put out globes, and focused more on it. Then we read the biography of George Muller and it got us even more fired up about prayer!
Missionaries Need You to Pray for Them
Paul declared that he knew the prayers of the Church along with the help of the Holy Spirit would yield results (Philippians 1:19). I, however, was not always so sure my prayers mattered.
When I was 15 years old, I went on a mission trip to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. It was a life-altering experience and every moment is etched into my mind and heart even today, 20+ years later. But one of the most special moments was an afternoon where we prayed.
The missionaries had brought us to land to pray for a vision they had. We prayed for many things, but the one that drilled itself into my heart was for orphans to be protected and ministered to, and if God ordained, to find families.
But over the years I forgot to pray as passionately and diligently as I did when I was a teen girl. Over the years, college and dating and work and then marriage and parenthood all took over my prayers and that long ago passion for orphans and missions faded into the background.
Until my 25th birthday.
Prayers for Missionaries: Their Work
When we pray for missionaries, the first thing that often comes to mind is for lost souls to get saved. That is the ultimate goal we pray for, but consider these other prayers for missionaries and their work as well.
- For open doors to share the Gospel
Pray for God to open doors where they can share the Gospel freely in countries where it’s allowed. And in countries where it’s against the law, pray for creative connections and opportunities.
- For boldness in sharing the Truth
Pray for them to speak with a bold Truth, soaked with love and grace, to be an agent of change.
- For clarity of mind and message
Pray for their words to be succinct and well understood, for hearts to hear and receive the Truth and for it to be presented clearly.
- For a harvest
Pray for each seed that is sown to be watered, tended, grow, and eventually bear fruit. Pray that God would do amazing things in each life, in each family, in each community for His glory. Pray for lost souls to be saved.
2 Thessalonians 3:1 and John 3:16
- For language fluency
Pray for the missionaries to speak well and understand clearly the language(s) where they serve. Pray for them to learn quickly, remember accurately, and pronounce well. True story: I one time thought someone was telling me to hurry up when instead they were cussing me out with excessive profanity. The two phrases sounded so similar to me! Can you imagine the upset if I had mispronounced “hurry up; let’s go” when I was speaking to the children?!
1 Corinthians 13:1
- For cultural understanding & connection
Pray for the missionaries to be aware of cultural differences and to embrace them. Pray for a minimum of faux pas and offenses. Pray for ways to bridge the cultural divide and make solid connections with native people.
- For unity within their team
If the missionary has a team they work with, pray for unity among them. Pray for them to truly love one another, to be patient (long-suffering!), to extend mercy, and to share purpose. Pray for them not to be competitive. It’s hard when you work and live so closely in another country; the stress runs high and can create unnecessary challenges.
- For shared vision & purpose with other local churches
Pray for all of the local workers that serve the One True God to see just that: their shared belief and purpose. Pray that they are not divided by doctrinal differences that have no bearing on eternity.
When we bring these men and women who are giving their lives to the spread of the Gospel before our Father, we can’t overlook their more practical needs or personal ones. The following prayers for missionaries are just as essential as praying for the harvest, because if they get burnt out or attacked personally they will not be able to do the rest.
Prayers for Missionaries: Provision & Protection
- For protection and/or deliverance from bad situations
Pray for those in hostile countries to be safe. Pray for those in foreign nations to not be taken advantage of by government officials. Pray for protection from corruption and lies and the enemy who would use situations to deter them from their calling.
2 Corinthians 1:10-11; 2 Thessalonians 3:2; Romans 15:31; Philippians 1:19-20
- For people to remember them in prayer
Pray for God to stir hearts all over to pray for them when it is needed. Pray for an awakening in the first-world Church; for it to stop being so complacent and to remember to pray with passion and dedication.
- For the financial needs of the ministry to be met
Pray for God to supply every need and for there to be no discouragement while they wait for that to happen.
- For people to join their efforts and help
Pray for God to raise up members of the community within the church to serve, and for God to call people in from far away if needed. Pray for discipleship to multiply the number of believers, because people are not just knowing Him but also making Him known.
Matthew 9:35-38; Ephesians 1:16-18; 2 Timothy 2:2
Prayers for Missionaries: Their Personal Lives
- For their walk with God
It can be exhausting, disheartening, isolating work to be out in the mission field. Pray for missionaries to be refreshed in the Lord, to continually draw closer to Him. Pray for their faith to be bolstered and their confidence in Christ to be unshaken. Pray for a hunger to be in the Word and prayer.
- For their marriages
-Pray for the husbands that they would love their wives like Christ loved the Church. Pray that they are able to have time to romance their wives and nurture their marriage away from their ministry, as well as within it.
-Pray for the wives to be supporters of their husbands, and submissive as well. The people around them are watching, and carefully. But pray also that they are able to love their husbands well away from prying eyes and opinionated minds. Pray that they are able to connect emotionally, physically, and spiritually with their husbands and nurture their marriage regularly.
-Pray for these couples on the field, that the work of the ministry never eclipses the efforts they sow into their marriage or exhausts them so much that the enemy is able to gain a foothold to attack their marriage. Pray for fidelity and unity.
- For their children
Pray for the MKs (missionary kids). It’s not easy being a “third-culture kid” and it’s not easy being the child of a minister. Don’t take for granted that they are saved; pray for their hearts and salvation from the day they are born if you know of it. Pray for God to protect them and pray for their hearts to be tender to the Holy Spirit.
- For their parenting
Pray that the missionaries you are remembering before the Lord would have the strength to do the hard things that parents have to do, even when they are overwhelmed by the ministry. Pray for times to play and laugh and bond with their children, too.
- For their friendships
Relationships are so important. Pray that God sends encouragers, prayer warriors, co-laborers, and people who will remind them to laugh. Pray for godly friendships to spring up and flourish.
- For time to rest & renew
Pray that God would lead them to pockets of peace in each day and Sabbath rest each week.
Your Prayers for Missionaries Matter
It’s easy to think that your prayers don’t do anything. But that’s not true! Your prayers for missionaries, prayed in your bedroom or living room or even in the car from half-way around the world, really do matter.
A woman who prays has global influence.
Scripture teaches us time and again that the prayers of God’s people affect outcomes. David Platt goes through Acts 13-14 verse by verse and shows just how important prayer really is. Platt says, “The synergy between the call of the Spirit and the prayerful response of the church resulted in a supernatural spread of the gospel that continues to this day.”
Speaking of that same passage, John Piper challenges us:
This moment of prayer and fasting resulted in a missions movement that…would yield 1.3 billion adherents of the Christian religion today with a Christian witness in virtually every country of the world. And 13 out of the 29 books of the New Testament were the result of the ministry that was launched in this moment of prayer and fasting.
So I think is it fair to say that God was pleased to make worship and prayer and fasting the launching pad for a mission that would change the course of world history. Is there not a lesson there for us? (Prayer and Fasting and the Course of History, by John Piper)
Wow, sweet friend, just wow. What if we changed the way we looked at our prayer efforts and saw them this way, as launching pads for eternal harvests?
Consider using some of these prayers for missionaries each day. Ask God to prompt you. Begin to seek out missionaries to pray for them by name and also by nation. Pray for the missionaries you will never know by name because they fly under the radar so they don’t lose their lives.
If you’d like to study prayer more intently, join the Graceful Abandon community 5-day prayer challenge.