Prayer is an important way to support and care for cross cultural workers. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that our fight is a spiritual one (6:12) and we should 'pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.' Paul goes on in verses 19 and 20 to give some guidelines for praying for those taking the Gospel to those who have not heard. He asks people to pray that:
- God will give him the right words as he boldly explains God's secret plan; and
- he will keep on speaking boldly for him.
These are excellent things to pray for your cross cultural worker.
To make those prayers more specific, up to date information is important. The following may be ways in which you can get current news from your cross cultural worker.
- Get their newsletters.
- Set up a blog site for them and interact regularly.
- Set up a web site for them so they can upload current news, pictures and stories.
- Get relevant information from the web on the country or people group in which they are working.
- Watch the news (SBS gives more international news), BBC, CNN and other international web pages. Find a news source from the country on the web.
- Have cross cultural workers from the mission agency visit the group and consider combining it with a meal with recipes from the cross cultural worker's host country.
- Use a communication tool such as skype so they can interact live with your group during times of prayer.
Once you've got that information flowing, consider the following
Be selective. It is impossible to pray in-depth for everyone and everything. Be selective and concentrate on those special to you or on issues you sense God is leading you to pray.
Know the agency. If your cross cultural worker is serving with a agency like WEC International it would be helpful to know what they do and how they operate.
Understand the ministry. Knowing exactly what the cross cultural worker is doing, the type of ministry, what involvement they have and what issues are involved are important if you are to pray directly into their situation.
Recognise the factors that hinder effective ministry.
There are many factors that can be discouraging. Here are some:
- Living in another culture.
- Working among an unresponsive or hostile people.
- Lack of team members which means more of a work load.
- Ministry can mean extended time away from the family.
- Tension between the demands of “the work” and the needs of the family.
- Physical discomfort through poor living conditions.
- Problem solving and counseling in another language.
- Isolation and lack of fellowship with other people.
- Security issues, lack of freedom to meet and share with people, government restrictions.
Pray that the cross cultural worker will know their authority over Satan. It is essential that they stay alert to the spiritual fight they are in and know their authority in Christ to overcome any temptation or attack.
Pray for spiritual vitality. A key to victory is the cross cultural worker's own personal walk with the Lord. A big danger for any cross cultural worker is spiritual dryness.
Pray for physical vitality. Overwork due to the lack of personnel and not taking time out is potentially a factor that might have physical repercussions. Pray that they will recognise the danger signals before it is too late. Pray too for physical protection from accidents and sickness.
Pray for mental vitality. Constantly living and working in a second culture and language can be very taxing. Lack of relaxing activities, books and other refreshing materials can also add to mental tiredness and depression. Pray against depression in any member of the family or single cross cultural worker settling in.
Pray for the family as a whole. Sickness, education issues and family concerns at home are some of the ways that cross cultural workers have been limited, frustrated and even forced back home by. Pray for the whole family's protection and well-being.
Be aware of the financial pressures. Cross cultural workers face expenses that sending churches may not be aware of. School fees are often very expensive, travel expenses (international flights etc), health insurance, visa costs, language study fees, conference costs are all added expenses on top of the usual living expenses. Which country the cross cultural worker lives in also determines how much it will cost them to live. Make yourself aware of these things and pray that God will provide all their needs.
Pray for relationships with other cross cultural workers. It is very common for cross cultural workers to have problems working with other cross cultural workers. Especially in an international team setting when there can easily be miscommunication and misunderstandings. Pray for team unity, the ability to forgive and a willingness to be flexible.
Keep the passion burning. During the tough times or even after being overseas for a long time it is easy for the cross cultural worker to lose sight of why they went overseas in the first place. Pray that the passion for the lost and the burden to see churches planted will not be lost.
Relationships with the local peoples. This point is key to seeing peoples reached. Pray for wisdom in knowing with whom to build relationships with. Pray for a servant heart and a willingness to be Christ like in all relationships.
Praise God for the answers. Let the cross cultural worker know that you are praying and ask for regular feedback so that you are aware of how God answers your prayers.
Spreading Urgent Prayer Requests
In times of need, wanting prayer cover for specific meetings, things that crop up between “official” prayer letters or in crisis situations it is good to set up one of the following so that your cross cultural worker only has to contact 1 person in your church. They in turn get the news to others.
- Prayer Chain – traditional method of passing prayer needs via the telephone.
- Emails – Send prayer needs out to select people via email. Don't forget to use the BCC option.
- Mobile Phones – Using text messaging services, set up a group in your Contacts book to send urgent prayer needs in bulk to all who want to pray for your cross cultural worker. This gets the need out fast and people can be praying straight away. Check out SMS Global as a way to send SMSmessages from your computer. Your cross cultural worker could also use this site to get out urgent prayer needs.
Do you have trouble remembering what to pray for? Here is a suggestion to help with this. When you receive a prayer letter from your cross cultural worker, get out a blank business sized card and write down 1 praise point and 3 prayer points from that letter. Then carry that card with you or place it in a place that will remind you to pray. Use it when you are driving to work, waiting in a queue or washing the dishes. Husbands and wives or two friends could agree on the prayer points and additionally claim the promise of Matthew 18:19. The prayer of agreement is powerful! It will cost nothing but mean so much!