If you are going on short-term mission trip for the first time, it can be overwhelming to think about the amount of money that you need to raise. How do you go about asking people for money?…. oh, and prayer too, of course! The purpose of this post is to provide a quick start guide to writing prayer / support letters for those going on short-term (or not so short-term) missions trips.
First, we need to remember that don’t write prayer letters just because we need money. Even if we were independently wealthy and could pay our own way five times over, we would still want to write prayer letters to people because a mission trip is a spiritual endeavor. A prayer letter is an opportunity for you to invite people who know you to be involved in what you are doing and in what God is doing in another part of the world.
Why Do We Write Prayer Letters?
We need people to pray for us and the work
We want to involve people in what we are doing
We want to give people an opportunity to be part of God’s work
We need financial support
“In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” Philippians 1:4-5
Who Are The Proper Recipients Of Your Prayer Letter?
Ask yourself, “Who do I know that would be interested in hearing about what I am doing this on this trip, and may want to be a part of it?” Sending out a prayer letter is not a mass marketing campaign where you send out as many letters as possible on the chance that some recipients may be interested. We don’t want to spam people for the kingdom. Rather, it is an opportunity for you to invite people to partner with you as you seek to grow in your faith and serve God overseas.
- Family members
Whether Christian or not, they love you and are interested in knowing what you are up to. Even those who are not Christians might help you out financially because they care about you. Send them a letter.
Send letters to close Christian friends who may want to pray for you and / or help out financially. If you have friends who are not as close, but you know that they may be interested in missions
- People who Love Missions
Send a letter to anyone else who you know is mission-minded, or may be interested in praying for you.
In deciding who to send your prayer letters to, be careful to not send a letter to anyone just because you think they have a big wallet or purse and should give you a big donation. A mission trip is a spiritual enterprise and we should look to God for His provision. Some people with a lot of money will send you nothing in terms of financial support. Other people who have rather limited means will give you a very substantial donation. This is normal. God is the one who opens hearts and decides how he wants to provide for us. God’s provision often comes from places that we don’t expect and just in the nick of time.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
“God’s work, done in God’s way, will never lack God’s provision” - Hudson Taylor
“Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” - William Carey
How to Write a Prayer Letter
1. Greeting & Introduction
2. Tell about the mission trip
- Who is going
- Where are you going (country information: CIA World Factbook online and/or Operation World)
- What will you be doing
- How long will you be there (include trip dates)
- Why are you going (motivation for going, what you hope to get out of it, what you hope to see happen as a result of your time there)
3. Invite them to pray for you (Summary of prayer points)
4. Tell about cost for trip
- How much
- When do you need it
- Where should they send it
- How should they make out the check
5. Optional but helpful things to include:
- Photo of yourself / your team, map of the country
- Pre-addressed reply envelope with stamp (if sending by snail mail)
When Writing Your Letter, Keep in Mind:
It’s not primarily about money. You are inviting them to partner with you in serving God
Prayer letters you’ve received in the past – what did you find helpful? What turned you off?
Be clear & concise. Limit your letter to one page.
Spell check AND proof read. Does your letter make sense? If you are not good at writing, get someone else to look at your letter and listen to their feedback.
What kind of attitude / feeling does the letter convey to the reader? If you received this letter, would you want to respond to it? If your letter does not show that you are convinced of the goodness of going on this trip, what motivation does the reader have to respond?
Be yourself. Although there are necessary elements to include in a prayer letter, there is no formula for how to write it. Your prayer letter should be a reflection of your own personality and motivations.