When Missionaries go around on deputation it is because they are looking for churches/individuals to support them. Often they can be heard to say they are looking for prayer support as well as financial support. The most immediate and tangible thing that people can relate to is financial support. Financial support seems to overshadow prayer support because of our voracious practice of throwing money at a problem. If we throw enough money at any problem, it can be solved. However, no missionary would leave home without a proper base of prayer support. They know the importance that prayer support brings for to the success of their ministry.
It has been said, “Not everyone can give, but everyone can pray!” This is a great truth and I am sure that every Christian will agree. Because everyone can pray, there is a way for every Christian to be involved in missions, AND the more a Christian is involved in missions, the more they are involved in the winning of souls. In this statement lies the key for how to pray for missionaries.
Missionaries are often forgotten in prayer because, …well, “out of sight, out of mind.” Since they are not heard of, or thought of often enough, they lack being prayed for. But this in not the case for every Christian. There are many Christians who pray for missionaries, but they don’t know exactly how to pray. They find their prayers to be general and “all encompassing” rather than specific. The more specific our prayers are, the closer we are to the missionary and the more God can talk to us about specifics.
To understand prayer, a person must remove from their head the idea that prayer is just making requests of God and He, like a good little Genie, waits at our beckon and command to give us our wishes. There are no thoughts that we can have that God has not already known about. God puts into our minds the things He wants to talk about, and He does it for our own edification. So, the lack of specifics we have to pray about is a reflection on our lack of ability to talk to God about the subject He desires. In other words, we are not yet ready to bear such a conversation, or learn such lessons that He would like to impart to us.
God is interested in missions. Missions is a direct progression of obedience of His command to “…go into all the world…”. God is interested in people getting saved, the gospel being preached and saints being developed. Herein lies the key for how to pray for missionaries once again. It is in the winning of souls, the preaching of the gospel and the development of saints. Why? Because this is what God is interested in talking about. When you pray to Him asking for the accomplishment of these things, He gets interested. Yes, missionaries have other needs. Yes, they have other problems. God is keenly aware of them, just as He is with unique problems you are faced with as well. But winning souls and going into all the world are in a different classification altogether. These are the subjects that makes Him want to say, “YEAH! I like that!”
The more we talk to God about giving help to a missionary to win souls, the more it affects us regarding this subject as well. So you have three different approaches to praying for God to help a missionary win souls:
- We ask half-heartedly, not realizing what is going on. Little children who are learning to talk will often speak “baby language” to themselves. Even though they cannot form words into a language whereby they can freely communicate, they will be found to make sounds to themselves all day long. I call this “baby language”. They may be having a good old time speaking up a storm to themselves; they may even understand themselves, but nobody around them can understand a word. They are little “chatter boxes” without any understanding at all. Likewise, Christians pray to God. They pray because they know they are supposed to pray, but they are really just “chattering” away with no real meaning in what they say.
- We don’t ask at all. On the famous TV series, Andy Griffith, Opie brought a dog home when he wasn’t supposed to. He hid the dog in the shed. That night at the dinner table, all Andy and Aunt Bea talked about was dogs. Opie knew that Andy didn’t want him to have the dog, so he avoided the subject of dogs. That way, he wouldn’t incriminate himself and he could keep the dog because, technically he didn’t ask Andy if he could have a dog, and technically Andy didn’t say no. He avoided the subject so he could do what he wanted to do, even though he knew he shouldn’t have. Christians avoid praying and asking God to give help to the missionary to win souls because they are afraid God might just say, “How about you? Why don’t you win souls?”, or “That’s a good idea. I think I’ll send you there to help him win some souls.” They avoid the subject because they don’t want to be accountable to it.
- We ask with fervor and enthusiasm. The more we talk to God about helping someone else to win souls, the more we feel accountable to doing the same ourselves. The more we talk to God regarding the subject of some missionary, the more opportunities God has to get our undivided attention, and teach us something that He wants for us. Not only that, we get closer to God.
What does this have to do with “how to pray for a missionary?” Much. There is nothing more that a sincere missionary would like than for more people to become missionaries too. Missionaries often pray for their supporting churches to get involved in missions and reach the lost right where they are planted. Missionaries have a heart for missions. They would like for you to pray for missions so much that you are affected in such a way that you would like to become a missionary yourself.
How do you pray for a missionary? You pray often for souls to be saved; so often that you get involved in winning souls to the Lord yourself.