Luke 10:2 – Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
The first thing that comes to mind when we pray for missionaries, is their mission to win souls to Christ. It is easy to forget that they are people just like us, with families and also very real needs. Missionaries working in nations other than their own, daily face several challenges, for example, having to adapt to surroundings very different from those they grew up with or are used to, foreign-looking and tasting food, a culture with foreign customs and, especially, having to learn a new language.
Over the past eighteen months, persecution of Christians increased in several places in the world. In 2021 alone, four new nations were listed among the top fifty countries where Christians are most persecuted (view the complete list of countries). The presence of missionaries on the ground, especially in nations where persecution is on the increase, plays an important role in bringing the message of Jesus Christ to areas where most fear to go. Let us ardently continue to pray not only for souls to come into God’s kingdom, but also for the workers to go into the most challenging harvest fields.
Let us pray for the kingdom work they do
- Opportunities and open doors to share the gospel – Pray for God to open doors to share the gospel despite circumstances, difficulties, danger and resistance (Colossians 4:3)
- Boldness to share the truth – Pray for them to courageously and boldly speak the truth, without condemnation, but with love and grace (Ephesians 6:20). Pray for their words to cut to the hearts of the hearers and for the Holy Spirit to move them through conviction to surrender to the Lord Jesus (Acts 2:37)
- Soul harvest – Pray for each seed of the gospel message to be watered, tended and grow, eventually bearing fruit for the glory of the Lord. Pray for breakthroughs in many villages and especially the least and unreached areas (2 Thessalonians 3:1, John 3:16)
- Language barrier – Pray for missionaries to quickly learn the local language of the people where they work and in that way to win the favour of many locals in friendship evangelism (1 Corinthians 13:1). Pray for a sensitivity to cultural differences and wisdom on how to adapt to them. Ask the Holy Spirit to show them ways to connect to locals and win their trust.
- Missionary team and unity – Where missionaries work in a team, pray for unity among them – to truly love one another, be patient and support each other in difficult circumstances (Colossians 3:12-17). Also pray for local churches to be open to receive and support the work of incoming missionaries.
- The gospel message to spread – Pray for those hearing the gospel, to quickly tell others and for the Word of the Lord to spread rapidly (2 Thessalonians 3:1). Pray for missionaries to be strengthened and to continue preaching in the face of opposition or difficulties and spiritual attacks (Ephesians 6:10–18).
- Protection when travelling – Many missionaries go on outreaches in the nations where they work, often having to travel through mountainous areas or places where they might not be received well by those of other religions. Pray for their protection and safety wherever they go, and to escape anyone with evil intent (2 Thessalonians 3:2, Psalm 91).
- Rest and refreshment – Ask the Lord to provide missionaries with seasons of rest, to visit their sending nations and be refreshed in their vision. Pray that their partnership churches and networks will continue to support them financially, and regularly increase their financial support as currencies fluctuate in value. Pray that all their financial needs will be met on time, so they can focus on the needs of the ministry (2 Corinthians 8:1-4).
- Spiritual oppression – Missionaries who work in countries where there is no known Christian presence or where the majority non-Christian religion dominates overwhelmingly, can become subject to spiritual oppression. Pray for missionaries in those countries to experience the joy of the Lord daily (Nehemia 8:10) and to be strengthened with might through the Holy Spirit in the inner man (Ephesians 3:16).
- Physical health – Missionaries may not have access to the healthcare they were used to in their home countries. Pray for their health and sufficient access to healthcare. Also pray for their families to remain knitted together. Ask the Lord to help them establish new friendships in the places they work, where they can care for each other in prayer and practical support (Proverbs 3:1-8). Pray that, by establishing heart-connection friendships, missionaries will not fall victim to loneliness and the temptations that it brings. Paul, perhaps the greatest missionary of all time aside from Christ, never ministered alone. This should be a model and lesson for missionaries and the churches that send and support them (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
- Give thanks – Give thanks to the Lord for every man and woman working in the mission field, who have given up everything they had without the guarantee that they will return to their sending nations. Pray for their personal relationship with the Lord to always grow, so they will never become disheartened or despondent in the ministry given to them. Regularly take time to pray for a missionary sent by your church or another missions organisation.
Missionaries are people just like us, with families and also very real needs.