It’s Sunday afternoon and you’ve just returned from services which included one of the missionaries that your church supports. He talked about the work he and his family do in South America. You really enjoyed listening to what he said, and have invited him, his wife, and two children over for dinner. After the meal is over and they are about ready to head out to meet with some other friends of theirs, you ask “What can we do for you?” His response is what you expected: “Please pray for us”.
“Oh, we will. We will…” is your reply. But do you mean it? Will you earnestly pray for “your” missionary, or is that just a pleasant catch phrase used as often around missionaries as “hello” or “goodbye”? You don’t even know where Uruguay is, let alone know what problems are common in that country.
What can you do to “stand in the gap” for your missionary in prayer?
If you’re like most people, you aren’t a walking atlas of the world, and you don’t know all the world’s problems if it’s not on the nightly news. So dig out that globe or world atlas and find out where the area is that your missionary spends most of his time. Be aware of the situation in which he works, too. If the country he works in is a restricted country, maybe you could pray for openness to the gospel, or for even just one person that shows a spiritual interest. Many missionaries work for years without seeing even one person give their life over to Christ. Just one person may be all they need to be refreshed and encouraged to continue their work without ending in complete frustration. If a great spiritual awakening is taking place in the country, you could pray for vision, wisdom, direction, and helpers to meet the challenges of helping these new believers grow in Christ.
RESOURCES to help you: (a) Contact your missionary, (b) Learn about the country by checking an encyclopedia, the Internet, or an atlas, (c) consult a book like Operation World has more information (compiled by Patrick Johnstone and published by Zondervan Publishing House of Grand Rapids, MI, USA).
Most of us remember to pray for a missionary when we know that they are sick or having some serious trouble of some kind. But we need to remember to pray for them consistently. That means setting up some kind of a schedule that works for you—a helping hand that reminds you what missionary you can pray for at what time, and what each of their needs may be. Some people use a “missionary rolodex”. You can make one like this: write down on a 3X5 or 5X7 index card your missionaries prayer needs, location, and any other information you might want to remember. Then find a small photo-album display (the kind that looks like a little book) and slip in a picture of the missionary on one side, with the index card on the other. It’s that easy! Now you’ve got your own missionary rolodex! Don’t forget to use it!
IDEAS: Make a “missionary rolodex”; pray during family devotions, right before dinner, or every time you pass a specific landmark. Or, break up the week into different aspects of the missionaries ministry: Sunday—their spiritual life, Monday—their ministry, Tuesday—their family, Wednesday—relationships with their co-workers, Thursday—the country and culture, Friday—their ability to communicate, and Saturday—physical needs.
What kind of things do you struggle with: health, finances, relationships? Missionaries struggle with all of those things, too. But many times they also have to deal with political unrest in their country, violence, hunger, theft, spiritual warfare, and temptation (among other things). Living in another culture can also make “normal” things much more difficult to work through with all the added stress of a different language, climate, society, and being away from home. Remember that missionaries are just as human as you. They go through the same things that we do. Don’t put them on a pedestal as “Super-Christians”. They are sometimes weak and feel liking giving up, too.
DETAILS: relationships between the missionaries, safety, effectiveness, spiritual protection, health, finances, witnessing opportunities, their children (their schooling, friendships, safety, balanced lifestyle), or anything else that comes to mind.
Never underestimate how important prayer is. As followers of Christ, we are told time and again that we must pray constantly. So be knowledgeable, be consistent, and be intimate in your prayer time. Then, when you tell your missionary you will pray for them, you can mean it with all your heart… and do what you say!
Author: Ken James, Films for Christ
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