Every time missionaries step foot in our churches, they ask us to pray for them. Every time a missionary sends a letter, he or she mentions some specific prayer requests. Yet, since it can be difficult to track all of the individual needs of each missionary that we support, we tend to pray something like this, “God, bless our missionaries!” Am I right?
A few months ago I ran across some words written by the original pioneer, church-planting missionary, the Apostle Paul. In his letter to the Christians in Rome, he asked for prayer in some specific areas:
Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; that I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; that I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. (Romans 15:30-32)
I believe that we could have a powerful impact in the lives of our missionaries if we were to specifically intercede for them and ask God to grant them:
- Deliverance. Paul was under genuine threat from the unbelieving Jews in the Jerusalem area. He also faced dangers and threats elsewhere in his travels. The same is true for all of our missionaries. Some live in areas of political and social unrest. All of them live a lifestyle of constant travel, which poses its own risks. We all face spiritual assault from our enemy. We must pray that our missionaries be delivered from danger.
- Acceptance. Paul was involved in a commendable effort to bless the saints in Jerusalem. Churches across the first-century world had partnered together (through Faith Promise!) to bless the suffering believers in Israel. And yet, even though these ministry intentions were good, it did not guarantee that it would be well-received. Missionaries give of their heart, time, and resources to bless the people they are ministering to around the world. They travel the country sharing their burden and the cause of world missions with pastors and churches. These efforts and intentions are amazing, and yet, it does not guarantee that they will be well-received. We must pray that our missionaries’ efforts and service be accepted.
- Joy. We would like to assume that Paul was always filled with joy as he traveled and served the LORD. But if you have been involved in ministry for long, you know that there are countless circumstances and experiences that drain or steal our joy. And when we aren’t serving with joy, it can become miserable! Missionaries (as anyone else) need God to be their Source of joy, and to lift them up as they press on in carrying out the will of God. We must pray that our missionaries be filled with joy as they serve.
- Refreshment. Serving God in any ministry, and in any location, can be exhausting physically, spiritually, and emotionally. That reality is exponentially greater when a missionary is far removed from his family, home church, and native culture. The isolation can be brutal at times. Even when missionaries return for “furlough,” it is often far from a time of rest and renewal, as they need to report to their supporters, which involves constant travel. We must pray that our missionaries intentionally seek times of personal, marital, and family refreshment while they are on the field, and especially while they are on furlough, and we must be their greatest cheerleaders as they do so.
Yes, we want God to “bless our missionaries.” But I invite you to take Paul’s prayer requests, and make them a regular part of your prayer for missionaries. The impact will be greater than you can imagine.