Around the World in Prayer

On two occasions over the last few years, I have been privileged to travel to other cultures and see missionary work first- hand. Both trips have given real impetus to prayer for missionaries. First, I have seen the realities of working in a different culture and the sacrifice involved. Secondly, I have learned that missionaries are real people. They have the same kind of concerns with living as we have. The spiritual battles with prayer and Bible study we have are intensified, not lessened, for missionaries. They still struggle in prioritizing time and raising children and the normal daily stresses as we do. They still battle the interpersonal relationships and assembly problems that we encounter--and they do it in a culture and language different to theirs. They need and deserve our prayer support.

I would like to suggest three tools that, if used together, could greatly encourage you to pray and inform you so that you could pray more intelligently.

First, a book that I have just spent some time looking at. It is called Operation World, compiled by P. J. Johnstone. The book I have seen is an older edition but the latest edition is just off the press. It is a list of all or at least the vast majority of countries around the world. Mr. Johnstone lists for each territory or country: the size, the population, the kinds of people that make up the country, and its economic and political makeup. He then gives in percentages the kinds of religions that make up the country. He defines his terms at the beginning so that you can think along the same lines with him. He then lists a number of pointers for prayer for that country. Obviously this book is broad in scope, but I found a great deal of information about the different countries that I didn't know before. This book is available from Gospel Folio Press for $12.95 US funds.

You need to supplement that book with Missions magazine. This is a fine tool for prayer. Articles of interest concerning mission work pinpoint various fields of service and effort giving in-depth information. Also articles that introduce you to various missionaries give real insight to missions and missionaries that look to the Lord for their supply, and have been commended by assemblies to go forth apart from a "Mission board." Along with this are excerpts from letters from missionaries so that month by month you can keep fresh with things to pray for and things for which to praise the Lord.

The letters are arranged in a particular order. They are listed by the days of the month and these days concur with the Missionary Prayer Handbook. This handbook is arranged by the days of the month so that each month you pray around the world. Listed is each of the missionaries that have been commended by New Testament assemblies. The book gives the present address of the missionary, the specialized field of service if such, the commending assembly(s), along with the children under 18 and still living "at home." At the back, these children are listed with their birthdays and whether they are away from home for schooling. In this way cards and letters of encouragement can be sent, as well as intelligent prayer raised for these very special children. Both the magazine and the Handbook are available from CMML, PO Box 13, Spring Lake NJ 07762, or MSC, Inc., 27 Charles Street East, Toronto, ON M4Y 1R9.

Used together, these three informative tools can go a long way toward consistent, intelligent, intercessory prayer. It is too easily true, "out of sight, out of mind" and with the decline of the "missionary study class" around the country many of these men and women who have given so much are not held up in prayer and not supported as they should be. With these tools may each of us individually begin to pray and may we see an upsurge of missionary interest again.