Their prayer letter
Missionaries all write regular prayer letters, so why not ask to receive them? They will keep you up to date with their work and personal needs. Remember, spiritual work can bring tears as well as joy; disappointment as well as hope. Working as a missionary can be lonely, so pray imaginatively for them in their work.
Pray for the leaders in your friends' country. Pray for freedom to preach the gospel. For political stability.
Find out as much as you can about the country, its history, and what's happening now. Read the papers. Watch TV. Use background information from Operation World, or from the agency your friends are working with. Organisations such as SIM produce regular prayer letters and fact sheets on the countries they work in and have a website and magazine.
Their personal needs
Pray they will feel at home in a new country, culture and climate.
Pray for their children, particularly if they are at school in a different country.
Pray for happy family times together, and for the children to love and serve the Lord.
Pray that they won't resent being separated from their parents, and that the parents won't fret about their children.
Pray for elderly or frail parents back home and for those who support them. Ask that God would look after them during your friends' absence.
If the missionary is single, feelings of loneliness and isolation may creep in.
Pray for good, sustaining friendships, for holiday arrangements and time to relax and unwind.
Pray for your friends when it's time to adjust back to life in their own country.
Pray that as they visit churches and supporters they would build strong links and renew relationships.
Pray for good relationships with national Christian leaders and with fellow workers, some of whom may come from different cultures and countries
Grasping the language takes time.
Pray as your friends learn a new language, understand its nuances and attempt to communicate.
Pray against set-backs and discouragement.
Pray for their language helpers; people with the courage to correct and advise, and who will encourage your friends in their work.
The national church
Pray for the pastors and church members in your friends' country. Pray for spiritual growth, and for their ability to teach, preach, disciple and witness. Pray for vision and for love, and for any resources or literature that's needed.
Pray for the Christians to be 'salt and light' in their neighbourhoods, society or government, and for good relations with those of other faiths.
Praying with others
Most Christian organisations have prayer groups throughout the country. Write or phone, to see if the organisation your friends went out with has a group near you, or check the web.
It helps to pray with Christians who are older in the faith or more knowledgeable. By joining a group you will encourage others, further God's kingdom and meet those with similar interests to your own.
Pray as Paul prayed
The apostle Paul was a pioneer missionary and a pray-er. He was beaten, imprisoned and shipwrecked, but never lost sight of the goal. He asked his friends to pray:
- For boldness
'Pray… that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel… Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should' — Ephesians 6:19, 20
- For opportunity and clarity
'Pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ… Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should' — Colossians 4:3, 4
- For protection
'Pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one' — 2 Thessalonians 3:2, 3
- For the spread of God's word
'Pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honoured, just as it was with you' — 2 Thessalonians 3:1
Text used with kind permission from: OMF International (UK), Station Approach, Borough Green, Sevenoaks, Kent TN15 8BG