How can I pray best for our church’s missionaries? Several ago I read this stirring challenge from Dr. Ralph Davis, former pastor of Woodland Presbyterian Church, Hattiesburg, Mississippi:
“’Lord, bless the missionaries’ is a cop-out prayer. What do we specifically mean by ‘bless’? In what particular way do we wish God to bless them? And are the missionaries one blurred mass of unknowns or do they have names? Too frequently one suspects that ‘bless the missionaries’ means something like, ‘Be nice to those folks we don’t really know doing things we don’t want to do in places where we don’t want to be.’ If you want to begin praying thoughtfully for your missionaries, you may begin simply by thinking who missionaries are…
“They are often married people, and marriages need time and nurture; pray for harmonious marriages with ever deepening affection. Some missionaries are single—perhaps you need to pray that the Lord will give them a felt sense of his companionship. Missionaries have families and are anxious for their children (young or older) to give themselves to Christ and live unashamedly for him.
“Missionaries have co-workers, and missions teams are like churches—all sorts of crud can hit the fan! You can pray for open and trusting and non-envious relationships among members of a missions team.
“And missionaries are tempted and weary people. I would rather have someone pray the last petition of the Lord’s prayer (Matt. 6:13) for me than almost anything else. Missionaries are as vulnerable as we are and we should ask the Lord to make them stand against the evil one. We should also ask that the Lord would keep their noses in the Scriptures and put fresh heart into them through communion with him there. So pick out the names of a couple of our missionaries and get beyond cop-out praying.”
(Source: February 3, 2008 bulletin of Woodland Presbyterian Church. Reprinted with permission of the author.)