By: Scott Armstrong
“Thanks for what you are doing overseas. How can I pray for you?”
What an honor to hear that question hundreds of times in the last two decades of ministry! Intercessory prayer support is a key thing that believers in local churches can do to support world evangelism. One missionary in a particularly challenging country was testifying to the power of intercession and remarked, “All movements of the Spirit [in that “creative access” country], within our experience, may be traced to prayer.”
Many of us are convinced that prayer is important, and we believe it is powerful. Still, have you ever found yourself mentioning the same things over and over as you intercede for missionaries? “Lord, protect the missionaries,” and “Lord, help the missionaries,” is generic. We laughed and admitted as much during a recent episode of The Worthless Servants podcast as we told stories of our prayers that never seemed to get past surface-level. And if we on the podcast – as current missionaries – struggle with this, we can’t be the only ones, right?
In our last article https://transformtheglobe.com/2021/11/16/how-to-pray-for-missionaries-part-i/, I shared an acronym that you can use to BLESS cross-cultural ministers in your prayer time. Now we’re going to go deeper. Several years ago, we saw a brochure called “Praying for Missionaries” by the missions agency World Team. They highlighted “seven things all missionaries need . . . and for which people neglect to pray”:
- Victory over mental stagnation
- Freshness in prayer and in Bible teaching
- Guidance in how to present the Gospel
- Deliverance from the temptation of pride
- Wisdom in relationships with other missionaries
- Strength to overcome temptations brought on by loneliness
- A saving sense of humor
Do any of these surprise you? None of them are the typical (and always valid!), “Lord, give so-and-so good health and protection” prayer. And to be candid, the next time someone asks, it would seem weird to respond, “Pray that I wouldn’t be mentally stagnant,” or “Pray that God would free me from pride.” I have rarely told anyone to pray for me in these ways.
Well, that changes starting now. When I saw the list for the first time, it resonated with me! Sometimes I take myself or the situation I’m in way too seriously. I lack creativity and I struggle to know how to work with my boss or other leaders. I have times when prayer and reading the Bible seem like chores on a checklist instead of exciting opportunities. It’s embarrassing to admit. But I humbly ask: would you pray for me and other missionaries in these areas?
Thanks for doing it. This type of passionate, perceptive prayer is the only way we will see cities, people groups and entire nations transformed.
So try me: the next time you come up to me after a service on home assignment and ask, “How can I pray for you?”, I may just tell you that what I really need is for God to give me a saving sense of humor. It really will do wonders for my soul!