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How to Pray for Your Next Mission Trip

  • Amy Green Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
How to Pray for Your Next Mission Trip

When it comes to planning a mission trip, there are so many things to do that it can seem overwhelming… and time spent in prayer can be pushed lower down the priority list, behind passport applications, immunization records, and team-building activities. While all of those are important, asking for God’s help and blessing is foundational, especially for times of ministry or evangelism.

Whether you’re a trip leader, a team member, or a committed supporter, these ten passages of Scripture will help guide your prayers either leading up to or during a mission trip. Let God use them to call to mind specific people and situations, and look forward to seeing how he chooses to use your team.

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1. Pray for Grace When Something Goes Wrong.

1. Pray for Grace When Something Goes Wrong.

—Because something will always go wrong, no matter how organized your schedule or how comprehensive your packing list. Only God can help you respond to a frustration by seeing it as an opportunity to trust him instead of an inconvenience. Growing up, my pastor took this a step further and prayed over mission trip teams that something would go wrong, not just for the ability to deal with it in a Christ-like way. His reasoning? Being faced with an unexpected challenge forces us to rely on God’s strength, and those are the moments when we are most able to look back and say, “That wasn’t us. That was all Jesus.”

However you choose to pray, keep in mind this passage from 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” That’s the kind of strength you want your team to have.

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2. Pray for the Gathered Church to Encourage Each Other.

2. Pray for the Gathered Church to Encourage Each Other.

The congregation where you meet on Sundays is part of the global Church, but when believers from different backgrounds and cultures meet together, we get a fuller picture of what it means to be the body of Christ—to love and serve in different ways and reflect the various aspects of God’s character. Pray that your brothers and sisters where you are going receive renewed joy from your visit, especially if they are experiencing a time of discouragement, and pray that you will return with a report of what God is doing in another part of his family.

When thinking of the chances the team will have to connect with fellow believers, pray for an experience like the one described in Col. 3:14-15: “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Our need for each other gives us so much to be thankful for!

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3. Pray for Health, Safety, and Financial Provision.

3. Pray for Health, Safety, and Financial Provision.

These seem to be “givens,” requests that seem a bit routine, even cliché. But Jesus himself dedicated part of his example of prayer to say, “Give us today our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11) God knows what your team needs—whether it’s money, a last-minute visa, quick recovery from a bout of flu, or safe travel on dark and narrow roads—and he loves it when we take the time to ask in faith for even the simplest of things.

Make a list of the practical concerns and updates for the team, and take time each day to pray through it. Don’t forget to visit that list after the trip is over to thank God for the ways he answered!

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4. Pray for the Hearts of Those Who Will Hear the Gospel to Come to Faith.

4. Pray for the Hearts of Those Who Will Hear the Gospel to Come to Faith.

This story in Acts 18:9-10 is a perfect one to pray over a ministry team, “One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” Even though Paul hadn’t preached the gospel yet, God knew there were people in the city who would respond to his teaching and believe. That, combined with the knowledge that God was with him, was the perfect reason not to fear—and one that’s still true for us today.

Pray in advance for those who will respond to the good news about Jesus, whether they’re hearing it for the first time or the hundredth time. Don’t forget that even some of the team members, particularly on trips that include kids or teens, may not have a real faith in Jesus. Pray for them, too.

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5. Pray for the Mind of Jesus to Be Among Your Team Members.

5. Pray for the Mind of Jesus to Be Among Your Team Members.

A concern I often hear about short-term mission teams is that it’s easy to go in with the wrong mindset. Sometimes, that means a bit too much self-confidence or independence, or a mistaken idea that teams should bring the Gospel plus our way of doing things—whether that’s how to conduct a kids’ program or how to build a home. Pray that God would replace this attitude with a spirit of service and Christ-like love, particularly during stressful parts of the trip.

The best description of this is in Philippians 2:2-4, “Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” That seems like a high standard, but we have the best possible example to follow in servant-like humility: Jesus.

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6. Pray for the Holy Spirit to Guide Your Words and Actions.

6. Pray for the Holy Spirit to Guide Your Words and Actions.

If we really believe that God is in control of everything, that includes even the smallest interactions, conversations, and tasks. (Not just on missions trips—in our everyday lives too!) Pray that team members would listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting on a moment-by-moment basis, and that God would give the right words to speak, whether they’re words of encouragement or an explanation of salvation.

For the hard days in particular, join with Paul in Galatians 6:9-10: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

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7. Pray for the Local Church or Ministry that the Group Will Be Partnering With.

7. Pray for the Local Church or Ministry that the Group Will Be Partnering With.

A team might be short-term, but the believers in the area are not. Pastors, missionaries, and their families in particular can easily become weary with the many demands on their time and hearts. Lift them up and ask God to grant them times of refreshment and a renewed sense of purpose. Pray for members of the local congregation, that they would serve faithfully and continue to take advantage of the opportunities put before them.

Paul’s letters in the New Testament are full of prayers for the congregations that he had once visited for a short period of time. One prayer that you can use is in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

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8. Pray for Anyone Who Feels Led to Consider Full-Time Missions or Ministry.

8. Pray for Anyone Who Feels Led to Consider Full-Time Missions or Ministry.

Often, God will use trips like this to challenge individuals to step outside of their comfort zone. For some, that will mean increasing their giving or being more intentional about praying for the lost. For others, it will mean surrendering their carefully-laid plans to whatever God might have for them, even if it means a move, a job change, or training for formal ministry. Pray particularly for these people, that they would be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading, that they would have the support of those around them, and that they would find increased clarity and wisdom when considering next steps.

Romans 10:14-15 is a passage that many missionaries have looked to when praying about their future: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”

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9. Pray for Faith that God Will Continue to Grow Seeds that Were Planted.

9. Pray for Faith that God Will Continue to Grow Seeds that Were Planted.

Sometimes, the expectation of a mission trip is to return with dozens of dramatic stories of conversions or miracles. While God certainly can move in that way, sometimes a trip will simply involve partnering with a local body of believers in everyday, sometimes thankless ministry. It can be discouraging if you had half-finished or disappointing conversations or were forced to leave new relationships that had begun to form without seeing all the results of your effort.

Instead of dwelling on that, remember Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 3:5-6 when he said that he and his fellow preacher were “only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” Maybe you’re at one of the earlier stages in the process, but when God asks for workers to bring in his harvest, he doesn’t want us to be jealous of someone else’s role. He simply calls us to be faithful to the task set before us… and to trust him with the rest.

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10. Pray for the Transition Back Home and a Continued Desire to Pray for Those Ministered To.

10. Pray for the Transition Back Home and a Continued Desire to Pray for Those Ministered To.

When looking back on experiences where God was powerfully at work, remember what Jesus said to the man who was healed of demon possession in Mark 5, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” While God calls some to leave their home to spread the Gospel, he calls all of us to give him glory around the people closest to us: our friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors. That’s one reason why the return from a mission trip is so important—but it can be hard too.

Pray for the ability to process any difficult emotions (or “reverse culture shock”) that can come when readjusting to cultural differences or being around people who don’t share their experience or newfound excitement. Even more importantly, pray that team members will be able to share their passion and joy in what God has done, and that their connection to the community where they served will make them even more dedicated to praying, giving, and declaring the good news about Jesus to those around them.

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One More Challenge:

One More Challenge:

Read through the book of Acts prior to your trip if you’re one of the team members or during the trip if you’re one of the team’s prayer warriors. Use the stories of those Early Church missionaries to guide your prayers and remind you what it looks like to be radically devoted to the advance of the Gospel. There is nothing in the world that can stop the spread of the Good News, and God has chosen to make us a part of that. What an amazing blessing!


Amy Green lives outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota and blogs about life, culture, and theology at themondayheretic.wordpress.com.

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