Praying for Church Planters & Missionaries
We talk about praying for church planters and missionaries a lot. Whenever a church planter speaks at our church or in a small group they ask us to pray for them and consider giving… but WHAT do we pray for them? Paul tells the Thessalonians what to pray for him, and it is a great model for what we should pray for our church planters. After all, Paul was doing the work of church planting, and he was writing the letters of 1 & 2 Thessalonians to a church that he had previously planted.
“Finally brothers, pray for us, that the word of the LORD may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the LORD is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the LORD about you, that you are doing and will do the things we command. May the LORD direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” --2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
First, pray that the word of the LORD may speed ahead and be honored. We should pray that the Gospel, the good news of who Jesus is and what he has done for us, speeds ahead. When I think of speeding ahead I draw a mental image of a ship, a large vessel making headway in a trans-ocean voyage. That the gospel goes forth changing lives and disciples are made hastily. That there be no hindrance in the path and the vessel, the Gospel is able to make steady progress forward. In this haste, that the Gospel will also be honored. Pray that the Gospel is not distorted through local customs and previous preconceptions. The Gospel is that we are saved by the Grace of God, not of ourselves (Ephesians 2:8&9).
Second, that church planters and missionaries may be delivered from wicked and evil men. Church planters and missionaries will encounter resistance, and you should pray that God delivers them from these obstacles. Resistance may come in the form of wolves who seek to sabotage the mission, teach a Gospel contrary to the grace of God, or people who seek to block the spread of the Gospel through gossip, slander, and even violence. Paul faced wicked and evil men at nearly every city he came to, and he relied on the grace and sovereignty of God to deliver him each time.
Third, that the LORD directs our hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. While Paul is not asking for prayer for this, it is essential. Pastors, church planters, and missionaries are human. They experience the same daily struggle that you and I do. I need to daily be redirected to the love of God and reminded of the steadfastness of Christ; my pastor does too, and so does all the church planters our church supports. Pray that church planters and missionaries hold fast to he steadfastness of Christ and the love of God. May it direct their steps and guide their hearts. May the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ carry the Gospel forward.