Several years ago I received a framed commendation from our missionary partners in Ghana, West Africa. It was, I felt, very undeserved and way, way, way over the top. It’s, frankly, a little embarrassing. But I’m going to share it anyway because I think it illustrates a truth in our Bible passage from this past weekend – how people should view those who bring to them the good news of Jesus Christ.
Nzema Baptist Association of the Ghana Baptist Convention
Citation: Reverend Rick Duncan
You are God’s shepherd who has not limited your works to a confined area but spread your word to our community.
Reverend, your support has actually been felt to the skeleton of the Nzema Baptist Association. Without you, we would still be wading through the storm.
The Nzema Baptist Association appreciates and acknowledges your continuous support and concern for the upkeep and growth of the new association.
Rick, kudos from all Nzemas. Never relent on your support and good works and Jehovah God will triple all that you might have lost.
May God continue to strengthen and bless you!!
I do appreciate this, but this is way, way, way over the top. It’s overly effusive language. There are others at Cuyahoga Valley Church who deserve this type of recognition from our partners in Africa much, much more than I do.
But what I want us to see is that when you bring the gospel to people, there is a tangible appreciation that they will have for your efforts.
And that’s what we see in Galatians 2:8-20. A group of people in Galatia, a region of modern-day Turkey, saw Paul, the missionary/church planter who came to them as an angel of God.
Though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. Galatians 2:14
I am pretty sure that he never received a fancy gold-framed certificate like I did. But they received Paul as an angel of God – a messenger of God, like he was Jesus Himself.
Being seen as an angel by the people you were sent to reach is, I think, a pretty good goal for every missionary and church planter.
In fact, I think it’s absolutely legitimate for us to pray that every missionary and every church planter that we support at CVC will be seen by the people they were sent to reach as angels of God.
It struck me as I was reading Galatians 2:14 that in this year when we are emphasizing prayer, we might learn to pray for our missionaries and church planters much more faithfully and much more biblically.
I want to give you a little background as to why Paul even came to Galatia in the first place. Before Paul ever went to Galatia to share Christ and start churches, he was sent by his home church in Antioch.
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 13:2-3
We see here how important it is for missionary work to be initiated by and supported with prayer and fasting.
Pastor John Piper said about this passage, “This moment of prayer and fasting resulted in a missions movement that would make Christianity the dominant religion of the Roman Empire within two-and-a-half centuries and would yield 1.3 billion adherents of the Christian religion today with a Christian witness in virtually every country of the world.”
David Platt commented, “The synergy between the call of the Spirit and the prayerful response of the church resulted in a supernatural spread of the gospel that continues to this day.”
We dare not underestimate and we cannot overestimate the importance of prayer to the advancement of the gospel of Jesus through our missionaries a church planters.
Today, I want us to focus on learning how to pray for those who point us to Christ – especially missionaries and church planters. That’s what Paul was to the Galatians. He was a missionary to them. And he planted churches there. So, we can learn some things from his life and mission that will help us pray more effectively for all missionaries and church planters.
We don’t want to pray generic prayers. “Lord, bless our missionaries“ is an example of a generic prayer.
Instead, let’s learn to pray 7 specific prayers for specific missionaries and planters we know, love, and support. We want them to be received by God’s people as “angels of God.”
Angels of God: Praying for our missionaries and church planters
- Pray for gospel clarity. Galatians 4:8-10
Although cross-cultural communication is difficult, pray that missionaries and planters would make the gospel clear. Pray that they would communicate that it is Jesus plus nothing that saves. Pray that they would make sure that people can understand the justification comes by faith alone through grace alone in Christ alone.
- Prayer for fruitful labor. Galatians 4:11
Missionaries and church planters don’t keep office hours, don’t have supervisors who are present, and can be tempted to become discouraged, unaccountable, and apathetic. Pray that our missionaries and planters will labor, will work hard. Pray that missionaries would, like farmers, plow, plant, water, and weed to see fruit in their ministries as they seek to make disciples among the nations.
- Prayer for cultural relevance. Galatians 4:12
Pray that their ministry approach would be flexible and adaptable in everything except when it comes to the truth of the gospel. Pray for the missionaries and planters to be aware of cultural differences and to embrace them whenever possible. Pray for a minimum of faux pas and offenses. Pray for ways to bridge the cultural divide and make solid connections with the people they’ve been called to reach.
- Prayer for opportunistic ministry. Galatians 4:13-14
Pray that our missionaries and planters would look for opportunities in hardship, that problems would become possibilities. And pray that God will keep the missionaries and planters in the condition of health that will best glorify Him.
- Prayer for courageous truth-telling. Galatians 4:15-16
Pray that our missionaries and planters would speak the Word with boldness and that supernatural power would accompany its proclamation. Pray for them to speak the truth with courage, soaked with love and grace. Pray that the fear of man would never interfere with pleasing God by proclaiming His truth with passion and clarity.
- Pray for spiritual parenthood. Galatians 4:17-19
Pray that our missionaries and church planters would become parents in the faith to many people – that those they’re seeking to reach would come to faith in Christ and trace their spiritual heritage directly back to our missionaries and church planters.
- Prayer for Christ-like maturity. Galatians 4:19-20
Pray that our missionaries and church planters would see true Christian maturity take place in the lives of those people that they reach. Pray that the people they reach would have Christ formed in them. Pray that the people, including the missionaries and planters themselves, would live the Christ life and love with Christ’s love as they die to self and live in Jesus.
There we have it! Seven prayers that will help us pray for your planters and missionaries to be “angels of God” to the people they’ve been sent to reach.
We want to pray more effectively for missionaries and what God is doing around the world, but the truth is we often forget or have no plan for what to pray. What can we do?
- Cut, paste, print, and stick this list in your Bible to remind you to pray.
- Write this out in your planner or prayer journal.
- Pray this way for missions as a couple or as a family together.
- Says there are seven prayers, focus on one of these according to a day of the week.
- Hang up a world map in a prominent place in your home with this list framed of the wall next to it.
- Put out a globe in a prominent place in your home with this list framed on a table next to it.
- Pray for our missionaries and planters by name. (Reach out to www.cvcmissions.org to get a complete listing.)
- What if we changed the way we prayed? What if we began to ask God to make our missionaries and church planters “angels of God“ to the very people that they’re seeking to reach?
- Consider using these prayers for our missionaries and planters each day for the next 30 days. Ask God to prompt you.