We have all heard "Pray for your missionaries" many times! It seems redundant to even write a post about the importance of praying for the missionary, but when the Lord leads, you should act. I've learned this the last few days. I received an e-mail today from a dear friend of mine. She has family members serving as missionaries in a country full of unrest at this time. The Lord used that e-mail to urge me to write this post.
We all know we should pray for our missionaries. Many times we've read list after list of how to pray for the missionary or even specific requests from the missionary. Sometimes we simply pray, "Lord, bless, Missionary So-and-So. You know what they need. In Jesus' Name, Amen." We pray that way because we don't really know what the missionary needs. We think, "I would pray specifically, but the missionary won't give specifics!" But did you know that sometimes the missionary can't give you specifics? We missionaries want and need your prayers. But sometimes we aren't specific because we don't want our families back in the States to worry. Sometimes it is a matter of confidentiality or safety for the missionary or the national. Some missionaries live and work in restricted access countries.
As parents, it is our joy and privilege to teach our children to pray. I cannot explain to you the sweet and precious blessing it is to hear our children praying for others - sometimes people they don't even know. For example: Martha prays for the salvation of a Japanese man she has never met. Ian prays for two Deaf people in Kenya, Africa to be saved. I love to hear the confidence they manifest in their prayers - the confidence that their prayers are already answered - we're just waiting to hear the official announcement! As missionary parents, it is our blessed privilege to teach our children not only to be thankful for the prayers of others for us, but also to pray for other missionaries and their needs.
So how exactly should we be praying for our missionaries?
Pray for our safety. It was a comfort and blessing to me, when I was a single missionary, to know there were people praying for our safety during a time of bombing in our city. It is a comfort and blessing to me as a wife and mommy to know there are people praying for our safety here in Peru.
Pray for our health. We recently experienced a time here when many of the children Martha and Ian play with had chicken pox! I'll admit that was the last thing I really wanted to deal with this close to having Phebe! But I know there were people praying…most of the children had mild cases, and God protected my children from having chicken pox at all! I am NOT rejoicing in the sickness of others…it's coming in the future for us, I know…and that's fine. God just knew I had enough on my plate at the moment and spared us. Someone was praying.
Pray for the people we are called to reach for Christ. Pray for open doors, opportunities to witness, chances to be a great testimony for Christ. Pray that the hearts of the people would be soft and responsive to the Gospel. Pray for the spiritual growth and maturity of those who are saved.
Pray for more laborers. We hear that one preached quite often - in fact, I just heard a message about that very topic from one of my favorite preachers! I recently read a blog about an unreached city in Greenland. How I wished I could go, but God has called me to Peru. Today I heard about another ministry here in Peru that is without a pastor - we wanted to go, but for now God has called us to stay. So what can we do? Pray for more laborers.
James 5:16 "…and pray one for another…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Remember, the same God who knows what you need, knows what we missionaries need. He will answer. And what a blessed time we'll have sharing our prayers and our answers to those prayers with each other! We may not know those prayers or answers here on earth, but for sure in Heaven for all eternity - with the One who answered!