Our first answer to the question of why we write prayer letters might be: because our mission said we have to. Maybe we write because we want to thank people for supporting us or to be accountable to them. Perhaps our motivation is the fear that people might stop supporting us if we don’t write. Other reasons why we write might include a desire for more prayer or a yearning for people to understand the challenges we face.
Identifying why we write will change what we include and the format we use. It will also influence how often and how much we write.
I’m passionate about communication, particularly using the written word. That’s how I’ve ended up as an editor and writer. I’m especially passionate about writing good prayer letters. We receive prayer letters from a number of missionaries in various ministries and locations. We pray most often for the ones we receive prayer letters from frequently (usually monthly) and whose prayer letters are the easiest to read (i.e. they are not 15 pages long with prayer points buried in the middle).
I’m also passionate about writing as honestly about our lives and ministry as possible. My desire is that our prayer supporters understand that our lives aren’t perfect or easy, yet God works in and through us. If they understand the challenges we face, they will be more likely to pray for us. It is a difficult balance to find, but I continue to seek it.
So why do I write prayer letters? Because they keep us in touch with our supporters and when we stay in touch with them, they are more likely to support us—in prayer and other ways too. Why do you write them?
For further thought-provoking material on this topic see:
Wendy Marshall is the managing editor of Japan Harvest. She’s learnt most of what she knows about writing from her international critique group, Truth Talk. She’s Australian and works with OMF International.