Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Praying for missions

Missionaries are sometimes accused of asking for prayer, actually meaning: “I want money!” I think there may be some truth in this. But the reverse is also true at times: “I’ll pray for you,” sometimes means: “Stop bothering me. I’m not really interested in your work!”
Fortunately, my experience about prayer for missions has very often been extremely positive. Where I think that churches are sometimes making a mistake, is when they don’t pray specifically for the needs of missionaries. I guess someone can pray “for all missionaries spreading the gospel” and many people praying like that are serious about it. But I believe that much greater planning has to go into prayer for missions. Wouldn’t it be better to pray for a smaller number of missions specifically by name and according to needs (and then keeping contact to find out whether those needs have been met!) than to pray for all the missionaries all over the world, without having an idea what is going on there. In my own church in Swaziland we have put up a world map against a wall and making use of Operation World we pray on a Sunday for a specific country and the needs that we have learnt about. This is still not the ideal, I think, but it is a start.
While in Russia recently, I experienced an extremely meaningful way of praying for missions. The students whom I was busy teaching at the Bible School in Samara had decided to set aside a few hours on the last day to pray specifically for the mission in Swaziland. Keep in mind that these students could not speak or understand a word of English, that they have never been in Swaziland (most probably never been outside Russia) and that they have no idea how the SiSwati language sounds. They went onto the internet and found photos of people in Swaziland. They found a photo of the flag and made a large flag which they put up against a wall. They found Swazi Christian songs. They dressed up (and improvised) to look like the people of Swaziland. This was all great fun and led to a lot of laughter. Then they shared something about Swaziland (using the Russian edition of Operation World) and after I had shared with them what our specific needs are, they started praying, more in general and then for myself and my congregation. Seldom have I experienced such a blessing through praying for missions.
If we want missionaries to work effectively, then we will also have to learn to pray effectively.


Thursday, June 21, 2007 - Posted by | Mission, Prayer


  1. When it comes to any ministry (missions or otherwise) I think the more personal, the better. I receive multiple requests for money/prayer from many ministries throughout the week, but the ones that get my attention are the ones where I have met the people and we are in some kind of ongoing communication and relationship. I feel “invested” in how they are doing rather than them being a nameless/faceless missionary/minister. Perhaps this is because I tend to be more relational in general, but I think most people are willing to give if they feel a direct connection. I know this would be nigh impossible for missionaries to do on a large scale, but I do believe it has validity when it comes to the human psyche and what motivates people to pray or give money.

    Comment by Maya | Thursday, June 21, 2007 | Reply

  2. Maya, I think you’ve summed it up very well. My feeling is that each and every congregation should become involved with a mission project somewhere (a possible theme for a post!). As I see it… no. I’ll leave that for the post! Perhaps the one problem which I see is that some missionaries are very “aggressive” in promoting their mission while others tend to be more “meek and mild”. The aggressive promoters tend to get a lot of support while the others may feel “left-out”. To come back to the prayer topic: It is SO important not to get involved with a missions project only because you are emotional about it, but to pray about God’s plan and then following through on His will.

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Thursday, June 21, 2007 | Reply

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