Part 1 in a series of 3, maybe 4

Jo Shetler had completed the translation of the Balangao New Testament. A flourishing church had been established. She was now called back to the Philippines to be a speaker at the Balangao Bible Conference. Her subject was prayer.

She said that her prayer life had consisted of “… all we ask God to do, such as heal our sickness, provide money to put children through school, give the ability to learn a language, translate Scripture and interact well with people. Then I decided to pray the prayers of Paul and David and others in the Bible. I copied them out and started in. Wow, did I ever get a surprise. Those people weren’t asking God for the same things I was!”

These ‘model prayers’ from Scripture seemed to center more directly on God and his program, rather than people and their plans.

Read all the articles on prayer; read all the books about prayer. But when you are done, read, study and use as models the prayers of the Bible! One of the prayers of Paul fits perfectly the needs of the cross-cultural worker. He was praying the prayer for the church in Colossae, but note how adaptable it is to the needs of any missionary.

Even before he prayed, Paul twice assured those at Colossae that he was constantly praying for them. Look at Colossians 1:3 and 9. “We always thank God…when we pray for you,” and “…we have not ceased to pray for you, from the day we heard…” Everyone who is interested in praying for a missionary will at one time or another breathe a prayer for him or her. Certainly the financial support team will pray as they write out their checks: “Lord may they use this money wisely,” or “Lord do they really need this money more than I do?”

The communications support team will no doubt pray that the missionary will have time to read the email that they wrote and that it will minister to them. The moral support team will surely whisper a prayer as they see the missionary’s picture on the church bulletin board or when the pastor leads a congregational prayer for them. But if you are going to be part of your missionary’s prayer support team, your commitment must be more on the level of Paul’s statement, “….we have not ceased to pray for you, from the day we heard…”

Here, then, is a prayer you can use as a model as you pray for your cross-cultural worker, filling in the details of their specific personality and ministry needs:

“That you might be filled with the knowledge of his will.” (Col. 1:9)

Once a worker arrives in the field, they are bombarded with an overwhelming array of ministry opportunities. Even if a pre-determined job description has been established, there is always one more assignment to fit into the schedule. When joining a team that is short-handed by illness, or workers on home assignment, or lack of laborers for an expanding ministry, your cross-cultural worker may be faced with appeals to take on ‘just a little bit more.’

Out of that mass of good deeds, the missionary must discern those that were “beforehand determined that he should walk in” (Ephesians 2:10). Once the will of God has been heard, a corollary prayer is that the missionary judiciously share with the supervisor or team that, in order to maintain his sanity he must say ‘no’ to certain opportunities.

Shared with permission from Emmaus Road Int'l, Neal Pirolo, Serving as Senders Today, 2023.