Dr. Atan Taclob is on the Bible Faculty at BJMBC.
We know prayer plays a vital role in missions and ministry. But we don't always know how to offer specific, gospel-centered requests for those on the front lines. Here are seven Scripture-based prayer requests we can pray for pastors and missionaries today.
In his epistles, the apostle Paul often encourages believers to live a life of prayer. However, there are five passages in which he asks churches to pray for him and his co-laborers in the ministry.
1. “Brethren, pray for us” (1 Thessalonians 5:25).
Chronologically, this is the first time Paul asks a church for prayer for himself and his ministry.
This general prayer request may sound like it was added hastily or unintentionally at the closing of his letter. But Paul’s request in 1 Thessalonians 5:25 is purposeful and loaded with evangelistic zeal. Behind this general prayer request lies the many conflicts, heartaches, and physical and emotional sufferings that Paul had already suffered during his second missionary journey:
But we can also add to this list the various trials and oppositions that Paul experienced during his first missionary journey:
Although this first passage is somewhat general in nature, the next four passages in which Paul asks for prayer are all very specific in nature.
2. “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you” (2 Thessalonians 3:1).
3. “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed” (Romans 15:30-32).
4. “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak” (Colossians 4:2-4).
5. “And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:19-20).
7 Specific Prayer Requests for Those in the Ministry
If we combine all of these prayer requests, it is clear that there are seven specific things for which Paul is asking for prayer. These are the same seven things that we should pray for those who are in the ministry.
1. The fast spread of the gospel.
"that the Word of the Lord may have free course" (2 Thessalonians 3:1a)
2. Acceptance of the gospel among unbelievers.
"that the Word of the Lord may . . . be glorified, even as it is with you" (2 Thessalonians 3:1b)
3. Protection from evil men.
"that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men" (2 Thessalonians 3:2)
"that I may be delivered from them that do not believe" (Romans 15:31a)
4. A well-received ministry to the saints.
"that my service . . . may be accepted of the saints" (Romans 15:31b)
5. Opportunity to share the gospel.
"that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ" (Colossians 4:3)
6. Clarity in presenting the gospel.
"that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak" (Colossians 4:4)
7. Boldness in presenting the gospel.
"that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel . . . that therein I may speak boldly" (Ephesians 6:20)
These prayer requests all have one thing in common—the gospel.
Paul was consumed with the gospel. He lived a gospel-centered life.
He petitioned churches for gospel-centered prayers.
Knowing that many prayed to God for Paul, can we say that God answered their prayers?
God delivered Paul from many dangers. Through his ministry many souls came to know Christ. Churches were planted and strengthened. And at the end of his life, Paul was able to say, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith."
A crucial part in the success of Paul as a Christian and as a missionary was the fervent prayers of churches to God for him.
We also can help other believers succeed in their Christian life and in their ministry by praying for them with these prayer requests in mind. Let us labor in advancing God’s kingdom on earth by praying for one another with these gospel-centered prayer requests.
Download a copy of these 7 prayer requests for your church or personal use.
On Tuesday, November 12, BJMBC honored the 70th birthday of Jeanne Raymond, missionary to the Philippines for 34 years. In addition to her work as a homeschool teacher for missionary children, Jeanne taught at BJMBC during many of those years, and has given her students an excellent example of what godly femininity, selfless service to God, and a heart for prayer looks like.
During this special chapel service, she also shared the following wise words of advice for the students.
Wise Words for Bible College Students
1. If you want to know the will of the Lord for your life, the best thing you can do is be in the will of God today.
The Lord will lead you by opening up opportunities for you to serve. While you are still in college, get as much experience in ministry as you can, whether that means
2. The Lord usually leads us step-by-step; He doesn't usually lay our whole life out before us.
When I graduated from college, the Lord didn't lead me into mission work right away as I thought He would. Instead, He led me into teaching in a Christian school for several years. That was God's preparation for me, because He knew that one day I would be teaching homeschoolers. I also taught a Sunday school class at my home church, went on visitation, helped in the bus ministry, and prepared the devotions for the monthly ladies group. The Lord will be able to use any experiences and education you have for the future.
3. The Lord will lead you by opening opportunities for you to serve and by confirming those through His Word.
Before I made the final decision to come to the Philippines, I asked the Lord to confirm His will through His Word. He did that for me through several passages of Scripture. Ask the Lord for confirmation of His will through His Word. In the future, as you face trials that might discourage you, you can lean on those passages for encouragement.
4. Always be flexible when making your own plans.
It isn't wrong to plan, but sometimes the Lord has other plans. Be submissive to His will because His plans are always the best. Don't run ahead of the Lord, and don't lag behind. Learn to wait on the Lord. Sometimes we think our timing is better than His, but the Lord is never late.
5. The key to fruitfulness in the ministry is how much time we spend with the Lord each day.
If we spend little time reading His Word and praying, we will accomplish little that has lasting eternal results. Serving the Lord is less doing and more being: specifically, being right with the Lord. Reading and meditating on the Word of God is where we get our wisdom, insight, discernment, vision for what God can do through us, spiritual perception, foresight, understanding, and discretion.
6. The more we pray, the more we will see God work.
Be a person of prayer. If you truly become a man or woman of prayer, you will see God accomplish things you could never accomplish in the lives of the people to whom you minister. He will make up for the abilities you lack. Don't forget to pray the Scriptures back to the Lord.
7. Go back to the Cross often.
Let the Cross of Christ ever remain dear and precious to you. Don't forget the sacrifice of Christ that saved you.
8. Don't compare yourself to anyone else.
If you want to be wise, don't compare yourself to anyone else, don't compare your abilities to anyone else's, and don't compare your ministry to anyone else's. Just be faithful in what God has given you to do and focus on that. Also, don't be critical of others who are ministering; instead, encourage and build them up. We are all pressing toward the same goal--seeing people saved.
9. Keep growing in the Lord for His glory, no matter what age you are.
Pictures from Ate Jeanne's years of ministry in the Philippines
Reading, learning, growing. God calls us to be changed through His Word. At BJMBC, our goal is to speak truthfully and clearly about that Word, while we prepare a future generation of students to proclaim it.