How to pray for the church
Congregations of believers exist all over the world. In some lands these churches are few; in others there are thousands. All of them are imperfect reflections and manifestations of the true and invisible Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here are a few prayer needs for this vast body:
Leadership is the key. Pastors and ministers need much prayer. There is a worldwide lack of men truly called by God and who are willing to suffer scorn, poverty, and the shame of the Cross for the sake of their Savior. There are too few teachers and expounders of the Scriptures. Without men having the right spiritual gifts and a close walk with God, the churches will never grow and become mobilized to win the lost.
Spiritual depth is rare in churches everywhere. Superficiality, worldliness, and inadequate devotional lives are common. This points up the need for the teaching of the Scriptures.
Victorious optimism is also rare. Believers are often introspective and timid, and hardly a mighty power for pulling down the devil’s fortifications. They need prayer that they may witness boldly and effectively.
Purity of doctrine. The minds of believers too often are molded less by the Bible than by the prevailing philosophies of the society around them. These influences rob Christians of their assurance, power, and joy, and often sidetrack believers into secondary or irrelevant issues.
Young people need prayer as never before. They are often lost to the world in this modern age, even after a Christian upbringing. Every new generation needs to be evangelized afresh.
Missionary vision. Believers need to see how important mission is for the church’s existence. Pray for a real concern for the world.
How to pray for missions
Pray for the right strategy in these days of explosive change. Some missions are so inflexible they cannot adapt to new circumstances or make use of new opportunities. Some missions have outlived their usefulness.
Mission leaders need God’s wisdom in these days of stress, for such tasks as goal-setting, selection and placement of personnel, overcoming personality problems, dealing with sensitive governments, and maintaining good relationships with home churches.
Pray for the wisest use of resources. Guidance is needed for the best use of time, money, and energy.
How to pray for a missionary
The old colonialist type of missionary is no longer acceptable. Much of the glamor of being a pioneer missionary has gone. The modern missionary must be humble and self-effacing, willing to work under nationals who may seem less able to do some jobs than he or she, and to work without praise (and often with no gratitude). For this, a close walk with God is necessary.
His health. Illness has shortened the careers of many missionaries.
The protection of his mind. The devil uses discouragement, loneliness, feelings of fruitlessness, and immoral thoughts to make him useless for the Lord’s work. The powers of darkness are real. Pray for the missionary’s strength to resist.
His cultural adaptation. Humility is needed to adapt to and respect the cultures of others.
His relationship with other missionaries and nationals. The grace of God is needed to live in harmony and close spiritual fellowship with other workers.
His personal discipline. Pray for the effective and wise use of time.
God’s love for sinners. Human pity and compassion are insufficient. Only the love of Christ can help a missionary love the unlovely.
His brokenness. Pray that all his trials will drive him to depend on Jesus alone.
The anointing of God in his ministry, and the constant knowledge of God’s will in the big and small events of his life.
His family. Numerous separations and the lack of amenities become very trying. Children can become rebellious and resentful in their teens. Pray that his family will be an effective witness of all that a Christian family can be.
His financial needs. Many missionaries live poorly and sacrificially by the standards of their homeland, but magnificently in the eyes of the local people. Pray for a right balance in the missionary’s use of money and possessions, and for the supply of all his needs.
His priorities in service. He needs clear objectives and the time to attain them. Interruptions and trivialities are common. He needs a sense of urgency.
His furloughs. These are longed for, but often are a great disappointment because of a lack of interest or understanding for his ministry, or because of difficulties in readapting to a changed homeland.
Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization