When asked, “What are your greatest needs?” most every missionary will tell you two things – prayer and finances. They will always tell you that prayer is the most important thing you can do for them.
There are countless stories of missionaries being delivered or saved from a situation due to prayer. Like the story of John Paton and his wife. Dr. Billy Graham relates this story in his book "God's Secret Agents" about missionary John Paton and his wife in The New Hebrides. It is said that one night they were surrounded by hostile natives who wanted to kill them. They prayed through the night for protection and at daylight, saw that the attackers were leaving. A year later, the chief of the tribe of the attackers became a Christian and Paton asked him about the night of the attack and why nothing had happened. The chief was surprised and said it was because of all the men who were there protecting them, hundreds of them in shining garments and with drawn swords.
In her book "The Spirits of Mindoro" published in 1988 by Overseas Missionary Fellowship, Catherine Davis talks about a woman who worked in the jungle on Mindoro Island in the 1950's. She was sleeping alone in her house one night when she heard men outside talking about killing her. She prayed for protection and the men suddenly grew quiet, then ran away. The next day a woman from the village said that the men did not carry out their plans because of two large people dressed in white who were standing on each side of the path to the house. I doubt we will ever know the times that we have been protected or delivered by the hand of God due to the fact that someone, somewhere was praying.
Yes, enlisting prayer partners is extremely important for the missionary. Some might have a desire to pray, but they do not know how to pray. Wycliffe Bible Translators have a great page on their web site titled, “How To Pray For Missionaries.” This is a good outline to use when praying for missionaries:
- Pray for open doors Colossians 4:2–3, NIV
- Pray for boldness in witness Ephesians 6:19, NIV
- Pray that God’s Word will spread 2 Thessalonians 3:1, NLT
- Pray for protection 2 Thessalonians 3:2, NLT
- Pray for their ministry 2 Thessalonians 3:1, NLT
- Pray for God’s guidance Colossians 1:9, NLT
- Pray for their refreshment Colossians 1:11, NLT
- Pray for partners in prayer Romans 15:30, NLT; 2 Corinthians 1:11, NLT
One of our prayer partners recently posted this picture on her Facebook wall.
“Was encouraged during Missions emphasis month to upgrade in the area of intercession. God put it on my heart to create prayer cards for the missionaries we support.” What a neat idea, and how blessed we are to have such prayer partners!
Yes, missionaries need financial support. Without the “sender” missions will not work. But what we really need is people that will take on a burden to pray for us. Without prayer, missions will not work. It takes both!