Have you ever stared at a missionary prayer card on your refrigerator and wondered how to begin to pray for them? Well, beyond, “Lord, be with them and meet their needs.” A look at 2 Corinthians 1 gives us insight into how to pray for missionaries, as one of our model missionaries, Paul, gives us a glimpse into the missionary life.
1) Praise God for what He is Doing in Them
Paul states in verses 3-5, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
God is comforting them. Pray that as they suffer, He would continue to be their comfort.
2) Realize Their Struggles Are Real
I would imagine most preachers spend their time in verses 3-7 and don’t make it to verses 8-11. Paul writes, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.”
Paul was depressed. So much so that he didn’t want to live anymore. I know it’s hard for us to imagine that a missionary (especially Paul) would struggle with depression and mental illness, but it’s true. If you realize that a missionary is a normal person with normal problems who is living in an even more stressful environment, you can begin to pray that God would comfort them in their struggles.
Pray that they would rely on God as Paul writes in verse 9.
3) Pray Like It Matters
Why don’t we pray for others more often? Why don’t we pray for the missionary when we see their prayer card on the refrigerator? It might be that we don’t know how. It also could be that we don’t think it will make a difference.
Paul writes in verses 10-11, “...On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.” Paul realized that the church at Corinth could help him by praying. When you pray, pray as if your missionary’s life depends on it because if you read 2 Corinthians the way that I do, it seems their lives do depend on our prayers.
This article was written by John Darnell, Interim CEO of Global Outreach. www.globaloutreach.org