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FIRST-PERSON: Praying & giving

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–Throughout my involvement in WMU, I have heard many missionaries state how much they depend on WMU for faithful praying. One missionary even said, “If the WMU stops praying, I’m coming home.”

Praying for missionaries has always been a key emphasis of WMU. In 1997, the national WMU Executive Board adopted nine statements that articulate the foundational truths for all we do in WMU. We refer to these as our Core Values. Core values are those things that an organization feels are at the heart of who it is and why it exists. That is true of WMU and praying for missionaries, so we identified this as one of our core values: “We embrace the strategic role of prayer and giving for missionaries and missions needs.”

For nearly 114 years, WMU members of all ages have prayed for missionaries in their meetings and worship, as well as during their personal quiet times. Some of the earliest lists of strategic principles of WMU describe praying for and giving to missions as a priority. It was assumed that what women prayed for they would also give their money to support.

Setting aside special weeks for prayer related to missions began in 1892 in connection with the Christmas offering suggested by Lottie Moon. The first Week of Prayer for Home Missions was held in 1895. These early efforts for stirring up prayer support for missionaries were provided specifically for women. Their focus changed in 1956 as WMU reached out to the entire church to broaden the base of support for missions. These churchwide efforts have grown through the years and are a significant part of WMU planning for the church today.

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In addition to the weeks of prayer, the most popular method for members is the Prayer Calendar, which was first used as far back as 1891. After sporadic printing as a separate piece, the calendar of prayer became a part of WMU publications in 1918.

Many other prayer emphases and prayer projects through the years have served to equip and call out faithful praying on behalf of missions.

What about the future? How can we reach the millions who are lost in our own country, much less around the world?

Minette Drumwright, who served for many years in the prayer office of the International Mission Board, has written a book for WMU entitled The Life That Prays. She challenges us to take one step further in our commitment to praying for missions. She asks us to see prayer as a strategy for missions. A strategy denotes planning and intentionality based on knowledge. Minette’s personal experiences with prayer as a strategy validate God’s desire to work in miraculous ways as we allow Him to direct our praying.

Praying for missionaries and for the salvation of all the peoples of the world is at the heart of all we do through WMU. Join us as we embrace the strategic role of prayer and giving as a missions strategy.
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