In the American church, we’ve adopted an understanding of missions that’s unique to our country’s financial prosperity. Churches across the United States pour thousands of dollars into missionary organizations to send missionaries to foreign countries to preach the gospel to the lost. Unfortunately, much of the American church has “delegated” the task of missions to sending agencies rather than taking on that gospel mandate themselves. Pastor, here’s why you should pray for missionaries to rise up within your congregation.
Praying for God to Raise Up Missionaries in Your Church Testifies to Your Desire to See God’s Power At-Work in Your Church
As pastors, we want to see spiritual growth in our churches, and we pray for the numerical growth to come alongside the spiritual growth. If both spiritual and numerical growth come, I would encourage you to pray for missionaries to rise up within the congregation. Earlier this year, I had the privilege of filling out a recommendation form for one of our students desiring to pursue global missions at a university in the midwestern region of the United States. Even since then, I’ve seen the Spirit continue to do amazing work in that student’s life and ministry in our local church.
If you want to lead the congregation in moving forward faithfully in missions, you must do so in prayer.
Pastor, praying for God to raise up missionaries shows where your heart is; that the nations experience the same powerful work God is doing in your church. The apostle John’s vision of the multitudes worshiping Christ should be our vision and fuel for praying for God to call missionaries from within our church:
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:9–10).
Praying for missionaries to arise also sets an example for your flock. Typically, the sheep follow the undershepherd of the Good Shepherd’s flock. As Hudson Taylor quaintly said, “You must go forward on your knees.” If you want to lead the congregation in moving forward faithfully in missions, you must do so in prayer.
Praying for God to Raise Up Missionaries in Your Church Models the Missionary Strategy of the Early Church
The entire book of Acts is a glorious display of God’s power in the early church. Throughout Luke’s account, we see men such as Paul and Barnabas sent to accomplish mighty works by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 13:1–3, Luke gives us the first time Saul and Barnabas are sent off from their local church in Antioch:
“Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off” (Acts 13:1–3).
By his grace, God chose and sent a man who was once an executioner of Christians to spread the news of eternal life in Christ alone. We ought to be praying for God to do a radical work in the life of our congregation as he did in Paul’s life. Our desire should be to pray for one of our congregants to share the same vision as Paul, and all those who love Christ: that the nations know and worship Jesus Christ.
Praying for God to Raise Up Missionaries in Your Church Displays Our Reliance Upon God’s Providence
Your prayers, pastor, for God to call out from among the flock a person earnestly seeking to share the gospel in missions displays your reliance on God’s providence. In praying for the Lord to raise up leaders from within, you’re ultimately surrendering to God’s plan of calling out his people from the nations using members from your church body.
Giving to missions organizations is a good thing to do with your financial resources, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you do. Exercise your faith in the God who has done marvelous things (Psalm 9:1–2). Trust the One who will finish what he started (Philippians 1:6) to fill one of your church members with the fire and desire for missions.