Close relationship with the Lord is fundamental to every Christian – especially those facing the challenges of missionary life. It’s so easy to forget or to put off regular times of praying and waiting on the Lord. And yet it’s vital. God says that our personal connection with Him is more important than anything we do for Him. When there’s distance in our relationship with the Lord, we can become discouraged in our service and open to temptations.
On the mission field cultivating spiritual disciplines and spending time with the Lord every day may not be easy. Even if these are your established priorities, they can become more difficult and irregular once you are in a foreign place where your normal routines have been interrupted.
Often activities or the ministry itself can distract us from time we should dedicate to the Lord. We may justify this by saying we are busy “in the work.” However, this can be dangerous because we may be depending on our own resources, rather than finding our source of life in Him.
In John 15 Jesus taught his disciples that He is the true Vine and we are the branches. A branch cannot produce fruit by itself. It is only as we abide in Him that we can produce fruit.
It is so important that missionaries strengthen their relationship with the Lord before their church sends them out.
Supporting your missionaries in prayer
It’s not just missionaries who must stay connected to the true vine. Sending churches are called to abide in the Lord too. As they do, they become strong and mature and, like their missionaries, produce much fruit.
Sometimes churches promise prayer support, and stick with it for awhile, but then get out of the habit of praying for those they have sent. They forget that sharing the good news involves spiritual warfare, and they leave their missionaries open to attack.
If you have sent a family or individual out to serve God cross-culturally, ask them to send you regular prayer news… and then come together as a church and pray for them. At times you may wish to fast as well. Remember you are a vital part of the ministry they have undertaken.
You can also pray for missionaries in a general way. Try to continually soak them in prayer. In the box at the right is a pattern you can use if you would like to pray each day of the week. You can add any specific requests for your missionaries in the appropriate sections.
How to pray for missionaries
Sunday: Spiritual life
Time to read and pray. A deepening walk with God. Encouragement. Fellowship.
Monday: Personal life
Relationships between husband and wife, parent and child. Maintaining contact with family back home. Friendships with local people. Health, strength and rest. Physical and spiritual protection.
Progress in language study and adaptation to culture. Clarity, creativity and relevance in preaching and teaching.
Harmonious and fruitful relationships with other Christians, team members and local church leaders. Good, ongoing connection with sending churches and prayer supporters.
For boldness and for godly, sensitive, Spirit-led ministry. For openness to the gospel and the establishing of Christ’s Church. For national missionary movements.
For patience and empathy. That new believers would be encouraged and those with leadership gifts would be equipped and trained. For wisdom and discernment.
Saturday: Host country
For those in authority. The political situation. Religious freedom. Favour with officials. Visa renewals and work permits.
No ministry can succeed without God’s help and blessing. Each purpose, plan and activity should be born out of prayer and then committed to God in prayer. Those who are sent and those who do the sending must not neglect the important work of praying. Because we depend on God, we pray.