We all know that there is merit in praying for missionaries. I mean, St. Therese become the patron saint of missionaries that way. And we all have a pretty good idea why missionaries might need us to pray for their ministries and the people they serve. But missionaries need you to pray for some pretty specific, personal needs too.
And because they know they are where they are to serve, they likely may not tell you about these needs very often. So if you are praying for missionaries (and by the way, if you need some to pray for, I will gladly accept your prayers for St. Bryce Missions and my family), here are five things you might consider praying for, even if the missionary hasn’t mentioned the need to you:
- Their transportation: Whether they own a vehicle, use public transportation, or walk, getting around safely and keeping their vehicles in working order is a near constant issue for missionaries. We need to get to our ministries and the people we serve and we need to do the business of daily life. And we are almost always stressed out about the “how” of getting to and from where we need to go. So pray for reliable, safe transportation for the missionaries you care about. (If you want to help with one such missionary need, fellow CatholicMom contributor Laura Fanucci and her family are raising funds in honor of their twin daughters to get us a vehicle for our outreach to indigenous mothers!)
- Their safety: Even if the missionaries you are praying for live in a stable, relatively safe country, they need you to pray for their safety. They stick out where they live. They are easy targets. Missionaries are robbed more regularly than you know. They won’t tell you about a lot of the dangers they face because they do not want you to worry, they don’t want to be sensationalist about the sacrifices they make, and worse yet, they do not want you tell them that they should come home. But all the same, they need to you to pray protection over them, their health, and their belongings.
- Their health: Your missionary friends are likely sick more often than they tell you they are. They likely fear that tropical virus more than they’ll ever let on when you ask about. They probably have a basic idea of where they’d get care if they got sick, but no idea of what they would do if they got REALLY sick. So they need you to be praying for their physical health and for health care options.
- Their vocation: Missionary life is stressful and it puts stress on relationships. Married missionaries need you to pray for their marriages and families. Single missionaries need you to pray for their contentment, for community for them, for their discernment, and for their spiritual and emotional needs to be met. Religious missionaries need you to pray for their vocations to be strong and solid, for good superiors and spiritual directos to guide them, and for their faithfulness to their vows. Stress and exhaustion can mess with the most important commitments in our lives, and the enemy can easily make his way into that mess. We need you to pray for our vocations.
- Their mental health: We don’t feel like we can talk about it, but missionaries are vulnerable to depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder because of the many difficulties they personally face daily as well as the many hard things they see. Combine that with an overly active guilt complex that makes us feel badly for taking care of ourselves, and it is easy to see how we many face mental health challenges while in the field. It can be difficult to ask for help for fear of being judged, and even more difficult to find help in the place we live. So we need you to pray for, and be supportive of, our efforts to keep ourselves mentally and emotionally healthy through therapy, rest and recreation, and furlough time. Let us know that you value and accept our efforts and self-care and are willing to support us in those efforts.
I hope these points give you a new perspective on how to pray for missionaries serving the Church. We need your prayer support and it is no small thing to us. And specifically praying for some of things we don’t always feel like we can ask you to pray for, you can be an even more effective support.
Want to really make a missionary’s day? Drop them a line and ask them what you can pray for in one of these areas. Like this: “Hey, I was praying for you today and was just wondering how your transportation needs are? Is there anything specific I can be praying for?” Or: “I know you are doing lots of great things, and I am praying for your ministry, but I am wondering how you are? Is there anything I can pray for specifically for you? I hope you are getting some rest and time to take care of yourself too!”
I know I cherish and am fueled by the prayers people offer for us and our ministry and I don’t know a missionary who would not agree. These are some extra tips for making those prayers even more efficacious!
Copyright 2016 Colleen Carroll Mitchell