When was the last time you prayed for a missionary, all on your own? Not at church or prayer meeting, or because someone asked you to right then and there, but completely on your own?
I think a lot of us neglect to pray for missionaries because we forget one very important thing about them: missionaries are people too.
They’re not that different from you or me. They have the same flesh, the same spirit, the same Creator and Redeemer. They struggle with the same temptations of worry, frustration, discontent, impatience (etc). They long for the same goals of acceptance, friendship, love, fellowship, forgiveness, happiness. They live in the same world we do and face the same difficulties on both a personal and global level.
Another thing we forget – missionaries aren’t always little old ladies struggling away in Africa or the Amazon. Sometimes they’re entire families living in Canada or Australia. Sometimes they’re a young couple, just starting on their life together, living and ministering in Italy or Scotland or Germany. Sometimes they’re single; sometimes not. Some of them even live right here within America. They might have a regular “civilian” job, might be in the military, might send their kids to public school, but the passion of their lives is spreading the Gospel and seeing souls come to know Christ.
In fact, if that is the definition of a missionary, then shouldn’t every single one of us be missionaries? Shouldn’t we all be passionate about sharing Christ’s love with others?
And yet some have chosen to make that their life’s work. Though they may hold a regular “secular” job simply to bring in some income, they focus on the work of the church, spreading the Gospel through their neighborhoods and cities, living for the purpose of seeing others come to know Christ as they do.
And they need our prayers! I must admit, I write this somewhat selfishly, as I consider my husband and I to be missionaries-in-training. We are preparing to work with church planting in the Mountain West in a few years (hopefully). And we would covet your prayers even now, as we seek to grow in our involvement at our local church, to learn from and be mentored by our pastor and his wife, and to learn from other young couples on deputation what to expect and what to remember when we get to that point.
But we’re people just like you. And quite a few of my college friends are preparing to go on the mission field; some are already there. And they’re just regular people too. But they need your prayers!
They need the comfort of knowing people are remembering them and bringing them before the throne of God. They need the power and the strength that only God can give, that He often chooses to give as a result of fervent prayer. They need the blessings that come from heartfelt pleas on their behalf. They need the rest of us to partner with them in spreading the Gospel.
Not every one can go. But every single one of us should pray.