By Daniel Hyde Appiah
Daniel is the president of Full Stature Missions based in Accra, Ghana. He is also a member of the SVM2-Ghana Advisory Council.
The Bible tells us that the early church devoted themselves to prayer and God added daily to the number. Because their leaders saw prayer and the word as very important, the number of new disciples increased rapidly. (Acts 2:42, 47; 6:4-7)
Remember, if we pray according to the will of God, then our answers are on the way. (1 John 5: 14-15, Mark 11:24, Matthew 18:19, 7:7, Jeremiah 33:3)
People often grow weary after a week or two of praying for global mission. Why? Due to lack of understanding. “I don’t know what to pray for” is a good excuse or to put it straight, “I don’t know what the needs are of the message bearer on the field.” In that case how do we collect our data for praying for missions?
Now I would like to try to help you be more effective in prayer ministry for global mission and message bearers. I have two main suggestions:
1. Maintain a broad general interest in global mission around the world.
Pray for many message bearers and the spread of God’s work in various countries. Pray for your church’s message bearers, and in this way you will roam the world with your prayer support. Maybe you can set a schedule to pray for one of your church’s message bearers each day of the month. Or you may prefer to go continent by continent in your praying each day of the week.
Operation Mobilization has some excellent materials to help you in your prayer ministry for missions worldwide. I recommend the following:
• Pray for the world map – a good, large, up-to-date world map.
• Operation World – a book that gives brief information and prayer requests for all the countries of the world.
• Packet of cards – giving brief information and prayer requests for 68 spiritually needy nations.
2. Get deeply involved in praying regularly for one message bearer or a message bearer family.
First, we recommended interest in global mission worldwide. Now we urge you to narrow in and specialize your burden and concern for one particular message bearer outreach and ministry. Look to God to lay one specific message bearer on your heart and determine to get involved with that message bearer in a deep, meaningful way.
Become a partner in his or her outreach for God through regular – yes, daily prayer support. As God leads you, make a definite commitment before Him to this effect. Let me tell you, this will be a tremendous encouragement to your message bearer, and it will bring assured blessing into your life as you follow through on such a commitment.
You will want to learn all you can about your missionary: the family, the mission (get the mission magazine and update etc), and the country, field where he or she is serving, the type of work being tackled. Write to your missionary. Send small gifts occasionally. When he or she is home on furlough, be sure to have him or her in your home.
Adopt your missionary in a manner that assumes a depth of responsibility. When you received a prayer letter or bulletin, pray right through it – not once, but many times. Let your mind expand on the items mentioned, and pray in depth for them. Be sure to note answers with thanksgiving.
It is not easy to pray for someone every day over at an extended period of time, especially when we do not see the person or do not hear from him very often. After we have prayed every day for several weeks, it is all too easy for our prayer to degenerate into, “God bless so and so in Nkwanta, Guinea Bissau etc. Amen.” We need to guard against this and look to God to enable us to pray fervently and intelligently as His Spirit empowers and directs.
For all of you who have prayer partners, praying daily for missionary on the field – or you who would like to be a prayer partner – I would like to give you a suggested weekly cycle of prayer topics for you to use each day vital intercessory ministry. As you use these on behalf of your missionary, it will help you to direct your prayers toward specific areas of need.
Day 1: Your Message Bearer’s Own Relationship with God
I’m afraid that all too often we assume too much in this area. We have placed all missionaries on a high pedestal marked “Super – spiritual Saints.” Somehow it doesn’t occur to us that our missionary has many needs in regard to his walk with God. This is a missionary’s primary area of need. On behalf of your missionary, pray for his or her
• Feeding on God’s word to sharpen his sword
• Prayer life, to empower his efforts
• Filling with the Holy Spirit to have resources
• Maturity and growth in grace
• Victory over Satan and the flesh
When praying for the spiritual life and growth of the missionary, I have found an excellent way to pray is to use the very words of Paul’s prayer as found in such passages as Colossians 1:9-12, Ephesians 1:15-23, 3:14-21; Philippians 1:9-11. Open your Bible to one of these texts and pray through them in phrases, applying it all to your missionary.
Day 2: Your Message Bearer’s Physical and Emotional Life
How often Satan gets in through these important areas of life!
Many missionaries live and work in difficult climates and where various diseases are very prevalent. Pray for good health.
Missionaries are active people, constantly on the move for God. They travel by every means available: plane, bus, train, boat, motorcycle, on foot. Pray for safety.
I strongly urge preventative prayer. Usually, what happens is that we hear that the missionary has had a heart attack or maybe hepatitis, or perhaps has been involved in a serious traffic accident and is in hospital. Then we pray up a storm. How much better to cover this whole vital area of safety and health with prayer continually!
Pray also for deliverance from discouragement, loneliness, and depression.
Day 3: Your Message Bearer’s Family
On this day cover the areas of husband and wife relationship. Pray for children -– for their salvation and growth in the Lord, and their education.
And pray for the family life of your missionary – that it will be exemplary and will provide an excellent model for national Christians and a tremendous witness to the unsaved.
Day 4: Your Message Bearer’s Ability to Communicate
In mission work, communication is in many ways: “the name of the game.” We have the message of God’s love for mankind to proclaim. While we must communicate with our lives as well as our lips, surely we must speak clearly and be understood.
This brings up the whole area of language study and adaptation to the national culture. Many languages, if not all, are difficult to learn. Japanese, Korean, and Chinese are among the hardest for the African mind to master; also the languages like Arabic can be quite difficult. To gain even an elementary knowledge of a foreign language takes a tremendous amount of hard work, and a superficial knowledge of a language is simply not sufficient for communicating deep spiritual truth.
The message bearer pursues an accomplished grasp of language and a fluency that makes him easy to listen to. Message bearers greatly need your prayer support for this. Language competence is a life – time task.
Good grammar and fluency in speaking, however, are not enough for good communication. The message bearer must adapt culturally and identify closely with the people he is seeking to reach. Without getting close to the local people and understanding them, he will never be able to communicate the love of God effectively.
Day 5: Your Message Bearer’s Ministry
Here you want to support the message bearer in what he is doing: witnessing, visiting, teaching, preaching, counseling, or whatever. His letters will usually give you lots of ammunition for prayers for boldness, for open doors, for open hearts. Most of all, pray that your message bearer will be empowered by the Holy Spirit for fruitful service. (John 5:16)
Day 6: Your Message Bearer’s Fellow Workers
Most probably your message bearer is not working completely off on his own somewhere. He is usually part of a team. Besides message bearers, he will likely be working in a close relationship with national believers, especially pastors and evangelists.
Sad to say Satan often gets in and causes havoc in the area of interpersonal relationships-message bearer with message bearers or message bearer with national worker. Pray for all of the fellow workers mentioned in your message bearer prayer letters. Pray that a deep and solid relationship of warm fellowship in the Lord will be maintained.
Day 7: Your Message Bearer’s Country or Field of Service
Expand your praying to include the whole country, community or the target area where your message bearer is located. The political, economic situation, the government and its leaders, the matter of visas, freedom to extend the preaching of the Gospel throughout the entire field –all of these are extremely important subjects for prayer.
In conclusion, if you are going to be part of your message bearer’s prayer support team, your commitment must be more on the level of Paul’s statement. “For this cause, we also since the day we heard of you, did not cease to pray for you.”
Paul’s Model Prayer
Read Colossians 1: 9-13a:
1. “That you might be fill with the knowledge of his will” (v.9)
2. “In all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (v.9)
3. “That you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing”
4. “Being fruitful unto every good work” (v.10)
5. “And increasing in the knowledge of God” (v.10)
6. “Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power” (v.13)
7. “Unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness (v.13)
A Man in the Gap
“And I sought for a man among them that should make the hedge and stand in the gap before me, but I found none.” (Ezekiel 22:30)
• In Genesis 18 – Abraham became that man
• In Exodus 32 – Moses became that man
• In Number 16 – Aaron became that man
• Nehemiah became that man for his generation
• Jesus became that man for the entire human race
• Paul became that man; will God find you as that man or woman?
Without God we can do nothing and without us GOD WILL NOT DO ANYTHING!
Practical Ways We Can Pray for Missions
1. The church should set the pace by setting some time apart during our Sunday and mid- week services to pray for mission fields and message bearer’s regarding definite needs.
2. Prayer chains as well as prayer meetings or prayer retreats should be held or organized on regular basis for this purpose.
3. Mission fields and message bearers could be adopted – knowing and familiarizing ourselves with burdens to pray about.
4. Get a picture or sticker of a message bearer or write names of missionaries, and paste it where it can easily be seen as a reminder of our commitments as individuals or family (e.g. beside our beds, mirror, vehicle windscreens, fridge, dining and center tables etc.).