By Chris Hefner
If your church is like ours, then you have mission trips planned for this summer. We have teams going to West Virginia, Vermont, Honduras, and Kenya.
As a missions pastor, I’ve witnessed the power of God on numerous mission trips. There can be no doubt that prayer is the primary ingredient for spiritually successful mission trips.
Here are some prayers I’ve learned to pray for our mission teams.
1. Pray that the mission team will not let the platform take the place of the mission.
In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus commissioned us to make disciples. That’s our mission. Oftentimes, compassion ministry, construction, or other need-based ministries are the “platforms” that give opportunity for mission trips. But success in meeting these needs is not our “mission.”
Our mission is disciple-making (evangelism, teaching, baptizing) connected to a local church. It is easy to let the need (platform) become the focus.
Pray that your mission teams will not forget the “mission” in lieu of meeting the need.
2. Pray for the spiritual preparation and development of the mission team.
There’s a reason Paul’s prayer for spiritual boldness in proclaiming the gospel (Ephesians 6:19) followed his treatment of Christian armor and spiritual warfare.
Mission trips are not for the spiritually weak—they require recognition of the spiritual war we are facing.
Pray that your teams will be spiritually prepared for the work and war they are sure to face.
3. Pray for the flexibility of the mission team.
Sometimes our mission plans require revision and flexibility. Acts 16:6-10 records Paul’s prevention by the Holy Spirit of going into Asia and the Macedonian call.
Mission teams must learn to trust God’s plan, not their own and be spiritually discerning.
Pray that your teams will be flexible in their planning and discern what God wants to accomplish on the mission trip.
4. Pray for the financial support of the mission team.
When Jesus sent out his witnesses, he told them to trust the provision offered in the villages for their wages and sustenance (Matthew 10:9-10; Luke 10:4-8).
International mission trips cost money. And I believe in a God who owns everything.
Pray that God would meet the financial obligations of each team member and mission trip.
5. Pray for the health, safety, and travel of the mission team.
Traveling to mission destinations and encountering new bacteria (internationally) can drastically affect the health and strength of mission team participants.
Getting sick is just a normal part of international travel. However there is precedent for praying for the health and safety of mission teams in in travel.
Acts 27 records the storm at sea and shipwreck of Paul and his captors. Yet Paul prayed, and God protected all on the ship (Acts 27:24).
Pray that your teams will experience safe travel and health protection while on the mission trip.
6. Pray for the spiritual wisdom and loving service of the mission team.
One of Paul’s prayers for the Ephesian church was that they would grow in spiritual wisdom and depth of love (Ephesians 3:14-20).
Mission team members need an abundance of wisdom and love, and God desires to provide it.
Pray that your team members will be abundantly wise and discerning as well as filled with love for those whom they will serve and share with.
7. Pray for the Spirit to open blinded eyes and that unbelievers would see Christ in all of his glory.
Satan blinds the eyes of unbelievers to the truth of the gospel and the glory of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4-6).
It is the Holy Spirit’s role to convict and bring to light the truth and power of the gospel (John 16:8-11).
Pray that the Holy Spirit would go ahead of your mission teams and prepare the hearts of the lost to respond to Christ and that the Spirit would draw unbelievers to Christ through the preaching of the gospel.
8. Pray for the spiritual development, strength, and growth of the partner churches and missions that your teams will work with.
Paul encouraged, commended, challenged, and prayed for the churches, elders and leaders of the Ephesian church before he finally parted ways with them. (Acts 20:17-38).
Mission teams are only a part of God’s ongoing work in the world. Churches, organizations, pastors, and believers across the globe will continue God’s work far longer than a mission team serves on a mission trip.
Pray for the partner churches, pastors, and organizations to have strength, growth, and success in fulfilling God’s disciple-making mission in their context.
Chris is senior pastor at Wilkesboro Baptist Church in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. He’s also professor of Western Civilization and Apologetics at Fruitland Baptist Bible College.