Praying For World Missions

When we pray for world missions, God hears us. God hears our prayers, and He responds. I remember a moment at age 19 when an answered prayer astonished me. My friend had some difficult things going on in life that were getting her down. On a certain Thursday, I set my mind to pray for her every day. I talked to her the following week and asked her how everything was going. She said she felt better and was managing things fairly well. Then she said “you know, it’s weird, it actually kind of changed all of a sudden last Thursday. I just started feeling different.” I told her about my prayer schedule. We both knew what that meant. We knew God heard, He cared, and He did something. Skeptics may call it a coincidence. When I add up all the moments like that in my life, however, the probability defies mere chance.

When we pray, we do more than offer kind thoughts and wishful thinking. We appeal to the Almighty God who created all material and life—mind, body, and spirit. Sometimes we might feel helpless and think “all I can do is pray.” Prayer isn’t our last line of defense though. It’s our first. When the God who holds all power inside and outside of our universe listens to us and answers, we help in more ways than we can see.

When we pray for others it’s called intercessory prayer because we intercede on their behalf. Consider how sweet it is when you see a child give half of her snack to another child. Or think about Internet videos in which a wild animal “adopts” a baby of a different species. Why do actions like these draw our attention and make us feel good? There’s something lovely about considering the needs of others and doing something to meet them. I like to think God feels that kind of joy when He hears one of us praying on behalf of others.

In Exodus 32, we read a story about the Hebrews who, after God rescued them from slavery, made golden idols and worshipped them. God became angry and told Moses He intended to destroy the people because they corrupted themselves. But Moses prayed on their behalf, and God relented from the destruction He would have brought (v. 14). Think about that! God brings about changes in the world in response to the prayers of His people. Prayer isn’t the least we can
do—it’s the most.

Why do we pray for world missions?

God uses intercessors like you and me to bring about changes on the mission field. According to the Joshua Project (, 3.27 billion (or 41.8%) of the 7.83 billion people in the world remain unreached. Unreached people groups lack enough Christ-followers and resources to evangelize their own people. Clearly the world needs missions.

And missions need prayer. In Matthew 9:35–38, we see Jesus traveling and ministering. Moved with compassion when He saw people in need, He told his disciples “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest (CSB).” In a letter to the Colossians, Paul told Christians there to “Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains, so that I may make it known as I should (Col 4:2–4, CSB).” Through intercessory prayer, we have an extraordinary opportunity to petition God to equip and send missionaries as well as to give them success in their delivery of the Gospel.

How do we pray for world missions?

If you’re anything like me, you might feel overwhelmed about figuring out how to pray for world missions. Below are some tips to help you get informed, get organized, and get praying for world missions.

1. Get Informed

It’s great when we know people who we can pray for by name. And it’s even better when we know specific things they need so we can pray for those things. Sometimes, though, we don’t know much of anything except that there are missionaries out there somewhere doing something. So how do we go about figuring out what to put on our prayer lists? If you aren’t given much to go on, there are always some general things to consider when praying for missions. You can find prayer requests such as these mentioned by Jesus and Paul in the verses above as well as throughout Scripture.

Generally, pray for

  • the missionaries, their families, the people they minister to, and governments
  • open doors and removal of barriers to the gospel
  • health, well-being, and safety
  • wisdom, protection, and victory in spiritual warfare
  • peace and unity with other believers
  • favor with unbelievers
  • the gospel to be clear through the missionaries
  • effective communication across language and cultural differences
  • God to open hearts of those who hear the gospel
  • joy during suffering
  • kindness amid slander
  • Christ-like humility
  • patience and perseverance
  • multiplication of disciples and churches

The more you can learn about a given mission or individual missionaries, the more fun you can have praying specifically. Gathering prayer points may take some effort and creativity. Places to start your search could include websites, social media, email lists, newsletter subscriptions, and information meetings. Keep an eye out for prayer guides or updates through your church and any mission organizations you support. Learn as much as you can about the mission team members and the kinds of struggles they have. Ask questions when you have an opportunity. Find out what you can about the needs of the people and communities served. Don’t wait for information to come to you—dive in and start looking for it!

2. Get Organized

Once you’ve outfitted yourself with prayer topics, develop a method to keep your list routinely used and updated. If you don’t already have a prayer habit, it may take a little time and experimentation to find what works for you. People differ in styles and preferences. What works for someone else may not suit you best. Consider ways to organize your prayer ideas. Do you like a simple approach and handwritten materials? Try a notebook. Do you like to rearrange your notes and frequently add and take away pages for ongoing development? Try a binder. Do you manage your whole life on your phone? Try an app. Do you like ever-evolving creative spaces? Try posting well-placed sticky notes around your home. You’re more likely to engage in everyday prayer when you find a method that fits easily into your daily lifestyle. Setting aside predetermined times to pray and using reminders also helps. Finally, revisit your prayer points every so often, perhaps weekly or monthly, to keep your list up to date.

3. Get Praying!

Now for the main event! Pray over the information you gathered but also pause and listen as the Holy Spirit directs your prayer. As you feel led to pray for anything you didn’t include on your list, follow that instinct and pray over what comes to your heart and mind. Sometimes you might get to hear stories of answered prayers, which is exciting and leads to a time of rejoicing. Other times, you might never get to hear how a story turns out. If you find yourself feeling discouraged in prayer or wondering if anything is really happening, remember Exodus 32 for a refresher on how God listens and responds. Remember as you pray for world missions, prayer is the most you can do!

Join us in prayer for our upcoming trips.

Written by Tara Rosema.

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