Many methods have been developed for systematically praying for missionaries. Most methods focus on prayer about seven key topics:
- The missionary’s intimacy with God. As one pastor once said, “you can only give others what’s in the refrigerator.” If a missionary neglects intimacy with God at the expense of busy-ness in ministry, soon the missionary will have nothing of substance to give those he works among. Knowing God well is the starting point for any fruitful ministry.
- The missionary’s character. Pray for a Christlikeness that proceeds not from human effort, but from a lifestyle of humility and repentance. Pray for his insight into his sin and an unwillingness to feed it and give it life. Pray that those around him will see Jesus.
- The missionary’s family. The family unit is a prime object of attack by Satan. Effective missionaries have to return home often due to family members’ inability to adjust to the field, or illness that develops. Pray not only for missionaries’ families on the field, but also for their families back home who are sacrificing
- The missionary’s team relationships. Studies show that most missionaries return home from the field due to conflict with other missionaries. Pray for missionaries to keep short accounts of anger, misunderstanding and frustration with fellow missionaries. Pray against Satan’s ability to work in such vulnerable circumstances.
- The missionary’s spiritual warfare. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6.12, ESV) Missionaries are subject to personal spiritual attack, as are the many people around them who don’t know Christ. Pray against attacks by the enemy.
- The missionary’s ministry. Pray for the missionary’s fluency in foreign language and culture; for wisdom in developing strategy and spending time with the optimal people on the field; for boldness in sharing the Gospel; and for careful and wise use of time.
- Pray for the nation and people group the missionary serves. We often focus on praying for the missionary that we forget the lost people whom he serves. Pray passionately for the lost: their freedom from oppression and spiritual blindness, their understanding of the Gospel, and their willingness to forsake all to follow Christ. Pray not only for individuals’ salvation, but also for whole families and communities to come to Christ, and for church planting movements.