As a Southern Baptist, the winter season is especially set aside for giving and praying for international missions. However, praying for missions should be a priority all the time. It should also happen on two levels.
First, spend time ‘praying around the world.’ In college I heard a chapel speaker suggest buying a world map and picking a different country each day (or week) and praying for the missionaries and advance of the gospel there. I think that is a good practice to maintain, especially for countries that are largely unreached.
Second, get specific information from missionaries you know – those sent out by your church, those you are friends with, etc. Often missionaries have some kind of email newsletter that includes progress in their ministry and prayer requests. Use this, or find a way to contact the missionaries directly, and pray for them by name and ask God to meet their needs.
Praying like this will help you maintain a truly kingdom-focus by seeing the big picture. It will also help you feel more invested in kingdom work by knowing the names and needs of individuals.
Our prayers for missions can be greatly helped by reading and meditating on Scripture passages about missions, reading good books about missions (like Piper’s Let the Nations Be Glad!), and using resources that describe the status of current mission work (like Operation World).
Here is another help in praying for missionaries – a Scripture-based prayer guide for the basic needs of missionaries.
A Basic Prayer Guide for Missionaries
– Christ-centered life (Phil 3:8-11; Heb 12:1-2)
– Love for God’s word (Ps 19:7-11; Ps 119:18)
– Strong prayer life (Acts 6:4; Rom 12:12)
– Spiritual alertness to temptation and sin (Matt 26:41; Eph 6:10-20)
– Spirit-empowered life (John 15:16; Gal 5:16-25)
– Pray for the missionaries using some of the spiritually-rich prayers found in the Bible (e.g. Matt 6:8-13; Act 4:23-31; Eph 3:13-21; 2 Thess 1:11-12)
– Focus on the Gospel (Rom 1: 16-17; 1 Cor 1:21-25)
– Opportunity to share Christ (Rom 10: 11-17; Col 4:3)
– Boldness in sharing Christ (Acts 4:29; Eph 6:19)
– Deliverance from opposition (Phil 1:19; 2 Thess 3:1-2)
– Endurance in difficulty (Col 1:11-14; Jas 1:2-4)
– Find passages that describe Paul’s ministry and turn them into prayers (e.g. Acts 20:17-38; 1 Cor 1:4-4:21; 2 Cor 3:1-5:21)
– Strong marriage (Gen 2:24; Heb 13:4)
– Strong relationship with children (Ps 103:13; Prov 22:6)
– Willingness to work with others (1 Cor 3:5-9; Phil 1:3-5)
– Hospitality, love, and grace towards the lost (Luke 10:29-37)
– Good health (3 John 2)
– Food (Matt 6:11)
– Shelter and clothing (Phil 4:19)
– Resources needed for ministry (Phil 4:19)