Many of us do not realize the struggle that many foreign missionaries face on a daily basis. Many times we take the philosophy "No news is good news" approach to foreign missions. They are not super Christians. They are simply doing the work that God has laid on their hearts. They face many similar struggles that we face on a daily basis. They also face things that we will never face. The apostle Paul was a missionary and a man of prayer. He understood the power of prayer. He asked fellow Christians to partner in prayer for him.
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; — Romans 15:30
Paul knew that their prayers would bring results
Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf. — 2 Corinthians 1:11
In his letters, Paul gave specific prayer requests for which believers should pray. As a prayer partner with those who are called to go, you too will have an impact that can reach around the world. Paul’s prayer requests can serve as a tool for praying with effectiveness and understanding.
1. Pray for Open Doors
Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: — Colossians 4:2–3
Open doors can’t be taken for granted. Many missionaries work in countries that are difficult to access or in areas that are resistant to the gospel. But “open doors” include more than just access to nations and people groups. Individuals’ hearts also need to be open and receptive to God’s truth.
Pray that God will open doors of ministry, blessing partnerships and friendships.
Pray that those who serve will be led by the Holy Spirit and recognize open-door opportunities.
Pray that God will lead His people past barriers to hearts ready to receive His Word.
2. Pray for Boldness in Witness
And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, — Ephesians 6:19
Missionaries are regular people who fear pain and rejection as much as anyone else. When faced with opposition, they need God’s strength to help them stand firm.
Pray that missionaries will have boldness to overcome the fear of embarrassment or failure.
Pray that the Spirit will provide them with words that communicate effectively in other cultures and languages.
Pray against evil forces that would seek to hinder the spread of the gospel.
3. Pray that God’s Word Will Spread
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: — 2 Thessalonians 3:1
Obstacles must be removed to allow God’s Word to spread rapidly and freely. Removing obstacles implies resolute resistance in spiritual warfare. Just as Aaron and Hur supported Moses’ arms in the battle against the Amalekites (Exodus 17:12), you can strengthen the arms of missionaries through your prayers.
Pray for strength and stamina as missionaries encounter antagonistic spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:10–18).
Pray that people will resist Satan’s plans to obstruct the spread of the gospel (James 4:7).
Pray that God’s Word will indeed spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes.
4. Pray for Protection
And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. — 2 Thessalonians 3:2
In some countries, open doors may expose missionaries to the possibility of danger and personal harm. Opposition to the gospel may include hatred and violence.
Pray that God will keep Christian workers safe from those who seek to hurt them.
Pray that God will change the hearts of those who are resistant to his Word.
5. Pray for Their Ministry
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:— 2 Thessalonians 3:1b
Cooperation and partnership are essential to ministry and vital to the progress of the work.
Pray that the missionary’s ministry and attitude will be worthy of acceptance.
Pray that colleagues and fellow believers will be supportive.
6. Pray for God’s Guidance
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; — Colossians 1:9
Many missionaries travel frequently, both nationally and internationally. Their mode of transportation varies from country to country and often involves stressful situations.
Pray for clear guidance from God regarding travel decisions.
Pray for necessary permissions to travel.
Pray for protection and provision during their travels.
7. Pray for Refreshment
Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; — Colossians 1:11
Missionaries deal with many of the same stresses you face in life such as overwhelming workloads, relational conflicts and financial uncertainties. Often, however, missionaries struggle with these issues alone, without the fellowship and support of other Christians. Living and working cross-culturally adds an additional element that can challenge their emotional, spiritual and physical vitality.
Pray that God will provide opportunities for missionaries in lonely areas to spend time with other believers.
Pray that God will provide times of peace and relaxation to refresh His workers.