How to Pray for a Missionary in the Words of a Missionary

Many of us as believers have an insatiable desire for God to be glorified in Christ Jesus among all peoples of all nations. We wish to see Jesus made famous among the nations and we are seeking ways to obey Christ’s command to make disciples. There are many ways in which we can begin as missions-minded Christians to act on and obey this global mission Christ has sent us on. Being missions-minded isn’t enough. We must be active in disciple-making in our neighborhoods and in the nations. The fact is that there are thousands of people groups who have little to no access to the gospel. There is an estimated 2.5 billion people in these people groups. And the glorious reality is that Christ has a people among these unreached tribes and tongues. There are sheep who have yet to be called. We must take the truth of the gospel to them so that they may be saved from their sin and to eternal joy while Jesus is worshiped and God glorified. Some tangible ways we can be active on this mission include sacrificial giving, purposeful prayer, and intentional going. Individually and collectively, we must be committed to seeing the nations reached with the gospel of Christ. We are on a mission that has an end. We are confident in our mission for the initiator of the mission has promised it will be complete (Matt. 24:14).

While the theological implications in Scripture are clear, practically applying these principles to our lives is often times absent. There is a disconnect between knowing and believing and being convicted of the truth that we all must be active in reaching the unreached with the gospel of Jesus. We often don’t give enough because of pride and the self-centered American church culture that we live in. However, we simply must give more—much more individually and collectively for the advancement of the gospel. Individual Christians must use their convictions and knowledge of the reality of the over 7,000 unreached people groups on earth combined with our conviction and knowledge of the worth and glory of the King of kings and the Lord of lords to start giving more toward world missions. Churches must do the same. Churches must start giving more toward world missions. This aspect of giving is especially crucial for us as American Christians to think about and examine often since we are among the most financially wealthy people to ever walk the face of the earth.

While it is imperative that we give more (much more), we also must pray. We must pray for the nations daily. We must sincerely pray for God to gather his elect from the nations. If you are not a Calvinist, then pray with the zeal of a Calvinist when you pray for the salvation of the unreached. Pray for God to providentially call them and as the gospel is taken, pray that God would save them as they respond to the awakening of their soul with faith in Christ. He will be faithful to do so, in this we are confident (see John 10). The question therefore is not if we should pray for missions or not. The question is how should we pray? What should we pray for? And keeping in mind that the International Mission Board (IMB) has over 5,000 missionaries commissioned and scattered to the ends of the earth, how are we to pray for the mission and the missionaries? I have wrestled with this question and my uncertainty of what to pray at times has led me to sinfully excuse myself from praying for them at all. I repent of this travesty. However, I am currently reading a gem of an auto-biography in that of Reckless Abandon and I have been given great insight into praying for missionaries. This book is written by David Sitton and he tells his story and journey from living a sinful life in Texas to being radically changed by Jesus Christ which led him to take this liberating gospel to the ends of the earth where Christ is not known. In this amazing story, there is a sobering chapter written by David’s wife, Tommi. She tells the story from her perspective and focuses on the daily life of living amongst hostile, cannibalistic, unreached peoples. It is a humbling chapter and I now have no question as to what I should pray for. In knowing how to pray for a missionary, there is no better way to know that to listen to what a missionary would have us pray for.

Therefore, I will leave you with some “big” things and “everyday” things that Tommi Sitton urges us as Christ-followers committed to the global worship of Jesus to pray for. May we all head her pleas.

“Pray for the big things”

–          That the gospel will advance through [the missionaries’] efforts

–          That they will be sustained through loneliness

–          That the Lord will provide financial partnerships

–          That He will protect them from illness

–          That He will protect them from those who would do them harm

“Pray for the everyday things”

–          Transportation to the market

–          Strength to do tasks such as washing clothes and making meals

–          Finding correct boundaries in relation to possessions and privacy

–          Enduring the stress of long periods of separation

–          For the Lord to sustain their relationship with Him and with one another

–          For their children


from Reckless Abandon: A Modern-Day Gospel Pioneer’s Exploits Among the Most Difficult to Reach Peoples by David Sitton, p. 64-65


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