“Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored,” (2 Thessalonians 3:1)
As countless short-term missions teams are sent from churches into the world as well as into our own nation, the most common request among these Christians is prayer. After going on my first missions trip this past summer, I know that I truly sought the prayers of my church family and Christian brothers and sisters. It is so evident that those who go on mission need prayer and they even seek it above all else. I always love this because of the great dependency that is put on God by the senders and the sent. This plea for prayer for the team members as well as the committment to prayer by those left behind shows that God is worthy and is the ultimate treasure and goal of the gospel that is going to be spread. It is inevitable that there will be prayer by both the sender and the sent, but what are we praying for? What should we pray for? Should we be more concerned about some things over others in our prayers?
Firstly, I believe that among most Christians, both those sent and sending, an initial concern for prayer is safety. We pray for safety in travel and also for safety during the trip. Is there anything wrong with this? Absolutely not! If one would say that praying for safety is wrong to pray for then obviously they have never been on mission. Safety is a concern especially for those who are getting on that plane or bus or van to travel. Plus, without God’s hand of protection over the safety of the traveling teams, the gospel would not be taken to the designated area. Therefore, safety is important to pray for. Is it the most important thing to pray for though?
I can tell you from experience that when I was on mission in El Salvador, while safety was an initial and realistic concern, my desires in prayer began to change. As I saw the needy faces of every individual I passed and the great need for the love and grace of God to be poured out on these people through the gospel of Jesus Christ, I began to pray for Him to soften their hearts and bless my words and actions so that they may see Him and desire Him more. I feel that my prayers began to better fit into the desires and the heart of God for He “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) My focus on the trip then shifted from myself and my own safety to the salvation of those I came in contact with so that they would know the truth of the gospel. Each night I was encouraged by cards sent by my church family expressing their committment to pray for me. I was most encouraged by those cards that expressed a concern for the gospel to be preached, the truth to be heard, and Christ to be declared Lord and praised. I was overcome with joy when I felt that God’s desires, my desires, and the desires of those praying for me were lining up perfectly. What energy and eagerness did I express to those I shared Christ with! So, understand that prayer is vital for missions both for those who have been sent and those who did the sending.
All in all, this has been said to express support toward those praying for missions teams in your own church families and to encourage you to pray for safety but most importantly, pray that the Word of God would “speed ahead” as Paul writes and that it would penetrate the hearts of those who are to hear it.(2 Thessalonians 3:1) Above all else pray that God would be glorified and His name be praised as those on mission obey His command to go and make disciples.(Matthew 28:18-20) I close by personally extending encouragement to those from my church family who are in Africa this moment spreading the gospel, loving fellow brothers and sisters, and strengthening them all in the Word of the Lord God. Stay strong brothers and sisters! Fight the good fight of the faith (1 Timothy 6:12) and continue to instill a greater desire for God in the hearts of those you are ministering to. You all are in my prayers daily as I plead that God would be glorified through your obedience and the praise of those you are discipling. Praying intentionally and diligently for my brothers and sisters from First Baptist Church of East Bernstadt on the Africa missions team: Pastor Norm & Tonya Brock, Eldon & Connie Depew, Sammy Tyra, Margaret Gray, Donevon Storm, Candy Sutton, Robin Owens, and JamieLynn Jones. May God bless and strengthen each of you daily as you make His name known and praised among the peoples of Ghana, Africa.
“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power to among all nations.” (Psalm 67:1-2)