For 5 years I was the pastor of Trinity International Church in Strasbourg, France. I created this blog with those people in mind. In mid-November 2018 I will become the Senior Pastor of Word of Life Church in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The focus of this blog will therefore shift, but I pray that people from the blogosphere will continue to find it helpful wherever they might be found.
The churches' websites includes recorded sermons for those who are interested. Click the links below to access them.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Praying Beyond "Lord, Bless the Missionaries"

Missionaries leave their home and take the gospel to new places. They face challenges of culture, language, distance, and spiritual warfare. When we send them off they tell us that what they need most is our prayers. We tell them that we will pray for them and then...what? Often they are forgotten or when we do think of praying for them we are stumped. How do you pray for missionaries? This question becomes particularly important because more and more missionaries are working in areas that are hostile to the gospel. They cannot send out regular prayer letters to let people know how things are going. These missionaries are the ones most in need of prayer, but are easily forgotten.

So how do you intercede for them if you don’t know what to pray for?
General thoughts:
  • Have a system to remind you to pray. You won’t be getting newsletters, so you need to develop a reminder that works for you. Some intercessors devote a particular day of the week to pray for missionaries. Others have a prayer partner that they regularly meet with for prayer.
  • Research your target.  You can find a great deal of general information about the country, city or people group you are interested in online. Operation World, the World Factbook, and Wikipedia are all good references. Find pictures of cities, places or people if that helps you. 
  • Use their prayer letters. Many missionaries send out prayer letters. If they do, use them! They are written in the midst of busy days and provide great insights into the lives of the missionary. However, the reality of many missionaries today is that they cannot send newsletters. If they do, they must avoid all references to Christianity. Email, regular mail, and phone conversations are often monitored. Often it is the workers that communicate the least that need prayer the most!
  • Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Remember: the Holy Spirit knows what you need to pray for and he will show you. NEVER IGNORE THE PROMPTINGS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. Tremendous issues may hang in the balance. You may never know this side of heaven what the results of you intercession were. Accidents avoided or satanic attacks thwarted before they began cannot be known here on earth. You can be assured that the nudge you feel to pray for a missionary is not coming from the enemy.  Prayer is the last thing Satan wants you doing!
  • Utilize the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Words of knowledge and discernment are invaluable as you seek to understand how to pray. If you have been given the spiritual gift of tongues, use it to pray for the workers and their field.
  • Pray that the workers would have a deep wholly-committed devotion to Christ. 
  • Some workers have a work platform that allows the worker access into the country. Pray that their work would be high quality and a source of real blessing to the people. 
  • Pray that the worker will have a real sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and will be obedient to his promptings. Ministry in many countries is full of risk. The worker risks expulsion, harassment or worse any time they talk about the gospel. If they “play it safe” then they risk ineffectiveness. The Holy Spirit knows when and what to say! Ask God to enable the worker to walk closely with the Spirit and to be instantly obedient to his commands. 
  • Pray for a hedge of protection to surround the worker. Both physical and spiritual danger abound in many places. 
  • Pray that God would raise up an army of intercessors for the workers. Pray that these prayer warriors would be faithful to prayer and obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
  • Pray for a support system to develop. The “lifeline” back home needs to be strong. The people who support the worker need to be wise in the way that they support the worker. Because correspondence is frequently monitored, discretion must be used or more harm than good can be done by emails or letters.
  • Pray for strategic relationships. This needs to happen on at least two fronts. First, pray that God would lead them to develop relationships with people who are open to the gospel. Pray that the Holy Spirit would prepare the hearts of key people who will form the foundation for the spread of the gospel. Second, pray for strategic relationships to develop with the local community leaders. Permits for building use, visa issues, living arrangements, customs problems and a myriad of other details are frequently solved by knowing the right people. Pray that God would help the workers find favor with these key people. 
  • Pray for insights into culture that will open the door to the gospel message. Every culture has keys which can be used to bring acceptance of the gospel. Pray that workers would understand how to best present the gospel in their unique cultural setting.
  • Pray for encouragement. There is a reason they are called “hard places.” Pray that God would give the workers daily encouragement to continue in the task they have been called to (Hebrews 6:10-20).
  • Pray through a book of the Bible. Take one of the books of the Bible and use it as a guide for prayer. Read until you find a truth, promise, or warning that seems to stand out and begin praying along the lines of that text. For example, you might pick the book of Philippians as you read you come across Philippians 1:9-11 and pray that their love would grow in knowledge and depth of insight. While we all need to grow in love, the missionary faces expressing love in a new cultural context. That is harder than it looks! As you read Philippians 1:12-14 you might sense the need that they would see how their difficulties are serving to advance the gospel. "Praying Bible books" will transform your praying for missionaries!

Completing the Great Commission is a team effort. I believe that the real heroes of the kingdom are not the pastors or the missionaries. The real heroes are hidden away with bent knees and bowed heads. Their quiet prayers echo through the throne room of God. They strengthen missionaries and tear down demonic strongholds. They open doors long closed. They are the key to seeing people from every nation gathered around the throne singing praises to the Lamb who was slain and lives forevermore.

We may not be called to public service, or qualified for instructive speech, or endowed with wealth and influence, but to each of us is given the power to touch the hand of omnipotence and minister at the golden altar of prevailing prayer. One censer only we must bring – the golden bowl of faith, and as we fill it with the burning coals of the Holy Spirit’s fire, and the incense of the great High Priest, lo, there will be silence once again in Heaven, as God hushes the universe to listen, and then the living fire will be poured out upon the earth in the mighty forces of providence and grace, by which the kingdom of our Lord is to be ushered in. – A.B. Simpson

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