myMISSION Blog

Purposefully Praying for Lost People

We sat on the concrete floor with our friends’ family surrounding us, waiting intently for what we would say.

Our friends were newly married, and we’d been invited back to the family home to stay overnight.

We had the opportunity to share the gospel and encourage the family, and it was an answered prayer happening right before my eyes.

Days before, I had been praying for this trip and had asked others to pray, too. I knew I’d be around people who have yet to come to faith in Jesus, and I wanted to be able to share the gospel with them.

That night, 3 people who had yet to believe in Jesus heard the story of a God Who created them and loves them. And while 3 seems small, to me, they represent billions of lost people around the world who haven’t yet heard and responded to the gospel.

Why do we pray for these lost people? Why did I take the time to pray to have an opportunity to share the gospel while celebrating the marriage of 2 friends?

3 Things Taking Our Toddler Overseas Taught Me about Missions

Teaching the gospel has no age barrier. We as Christ followers are commanded to make disciples of all nations—to live life with people in a way that encourages another Christ follower. When we first thought about taking our almost 2-year-old daughter overseas, we got all the questions: “Why are you taking her? She won’t remember it.” “Aren’t you afraid of something happening to her while you’re there?”

Then, we took her overseas. And it vastly expanded my idea of what reaching the nations is about. I learned 3 things about missions from taking my toddler overseas:

Pray for the Harvest

I’ve got a question for you. When you read the following verse, what do you feel?

“Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field’” (Matt. 9:37–38).

Do you feel urgency? Do you feel responsibility? Do you feel the need to pray, pray, and pray some more?

If your answer to these questions is yes, that’s great! If your answer is no, we have a little work to do. I think I fall somewhere in between.

There’s been a theme in my life lately of God telling me to pray more. I don’t spend enough time in prayer, and when I do, it’s too often self-centered, even if that’s not my intention. What I really need to double-down on is praying for the lost. Sure, it’s easy to pray for things I’m worried about; it’s a little less but still important to me to pray for other people’s worries and fears. But how often do I think to pray for the lost? Specifically, how often do I pray for someone I personally know who is lost?

Step 1: Prayer

As much as I hate to admit it, many times my prayers closely resemble the Christmas lists I used to mail to Santa as a child—a list of very selfish wants and needs. While my requests to God have matured just as I have, they still very often revolve around me: “Lord, help me focus so I can ace this test,” or “give me the patience to deal with my co-workers.”

When I do extend my circle of prayer, it is usually to include my friends and family who I know have a relationship with Jesus Christ. But what about those who don’t? Why is it so important to pray for those who don’t yet know of God’s love, and how do we do it?

God is working in people’s lives long before they hear the gospel. That work continues with our prayers. It is the catalyst that ignites the desire to know God. When spreading the gospel, we are engaging in spiritual warfare. Prayer is one of the greatest weapons we have when fighting the enemy (Eph. 6:16–18).

Praying God’s Heart

Prayer is such a privilege. How amazing that we as humans are gifted with a connection to God, the ability to communicate with Him. What a mystery that the Creator of the universe somehow hears us. He listens to our concerns, our hurts, our dreams. He hears what is on our hearts. And He responds.

What about Him? What is on His heart?

Reaching the Unreached with Prayer

In the United States, the beginning of fall signals a season of bonfires, football, and cooler weather. In South Asia, fall is the beginning of festival season. Hindus across the region celebrate some of their major festivals, including the Ganesh festival and Diwali.

It has been quite the culture shock to see idols of Ganesh, the elephant-headed god, being displayed everywhere in my city and celebrated by many as the god of new beginnings.

According to the Joshua Project, 3,322 unreached people groups are in South Asia. These are people who haven’t heard the gospel yet—people who, as you read this blog, will be born, will live, and will die without knowing Jesus or the grace He offers them.

The amount of lost people can be overwhelming. Knowing where to begin to reach so many can seem like a lost cause. Not doing anything is not the answer though when the opportunity for people to hear and respond to the gospel and avoid eternal separation from God is at stake.

Fears and Families on Mission

“Why are you taking her? She won’t remember any of it. What if she doesn’t sleep on the plane? Aren’t you afraid of her getting sick?”

These are questions and statements we have heard numerous times since announcing we are taking our toddler overseas with us this month for a short-term missions trip. Our church has a partnership, through the International Mission Board, with a global city where my husband is leading our group. He went on a vision trip in April, and we agreed that when we went back, we would go as a family.

Little did we know that I would end up being 6 months pregnant when we go. But this isn’t the first time I have been pregnant in Asia. However, it is the first time I have been a mom with a toddler in Asia and pregnant at the same time.

Fear comes to us in hidden places. Am I looking forward to 27-plus hours of plane rides (just on the way over there)? Not really. Do I want my 22-month-old to get a virus I can barely pronounce because we brought her to Asia? Of course not.

Recognizing the Humanity in Refugees

Refugee. It’s a heavy word laden with nuances in our world. There are so many types of people who fall into this category—those who are fleeing war-torn countries or persecution and those who need respite from poverty and famine.

But the meaning of the word refugee doesn’t stop there. Mention the word once in a group of people, and politics inevitably comes into the conversation. People have their opinions about the plight of refugees and what everyone should do to address it. Let’s be real, though: behind the word refugee is a human being. There’s a woman fleeing war to protect her children. There’s a man moving his family to ensure their survival during a time of famine.

Every person who becomes a refugee is a human life precious to the Lord. In the past couple of years, God has been working on my heart to ignore the political rhetoric and Facebook debates and focus only on His hurting children. If we are to live a missional lifestyle, then we must set aside societal prejudices and discover ways we can help save the lives of the people God loves.

Be Strong and Take Heart

Sharing the gospel is no easy thing. Neither is giving up spring break to go on a missions trip or evangelizing your late night study group. But God calls us to declare His glory among all people (1 Chron. 16:24), and that is what we must do.

I was 13 the first time I remember “formally” sharing the gospel with other people. As one of the only girls in my missions group, I was volunteered to speak to the residents of the homeless shelter where we had spent the previous week working. I was terrified. To tell the truth, I don’t even remember what I said. What I do remember is praying all morning, nonstop, that God would give me the courage to share His story and the words to do it.

A Time for Courage

The fall season is setting in with brilliant colors and crisp air. We all have different seasons of life. Our world is in a season of challenge. Some challenges are serious. In times like these, where do we find the courage we need?

We know our God is greater than our challenges. He is not caught off guard by what is in the news or even in our family or community. He is our great Healer, Comforter, and Guide. And He has plans. Psalm 139; John 14–17; Ephesians 2–3; and Revelation 7 show us God’s plans are greater than our own. His mercy, power, and beauty combine to amaze us daily. Nothing is too difficult for Him!

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