Praying in the local language is one of the hardest things I’ve done on the mission field. My face has flushed hot with embarrassment as I trip over grammar and falter over each word. I can’t count how many times I’ve wondered if any of the spiritual words I’m stringing together in prayer make sense. But I’m convinced praying in the local language is one of the most important things I’ve done.
I recently visited my neighbor who had just celebrated her 98th birthday. She opened the present I brought her—two tubes of pain-relieving ointment from the U.S. and a copy of a newly published children’s Bible in her language.
My friend’s heart is hard to Jesus. She doesn’t want to talk about spiritual things and says that she can’t hear me when I bring up eternal topics. But I learned that she will never say “no” to prayer. Before I left, I held her hand and prayed. I prayed for her ailing health. I prayed for God’s blessing on her new year of life. And I prayed that she would come to know Jesus.
It’s tempting to say that prayer is the only thing left I can try with my neighbor. But prayer is never a last-ditch activity. Prayer is central. Prayer is vital. I’ll continue to pray for her, and with her, for as long as I can.