#015 A CITY OF PRAYING NEIGHBORS By Alvin Vander Griend
What would your city be like if every neighbor and neighborhood were prayed for daily? I think it would be a city in transformation with many people coming to Christ, don’t you? That’s what God wants. His hearts desire is for all people to be saved and for all of us to "live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness" (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
Its going to take prayer to make this happen-lots of it! Prayer may not be the American way, but it is Gods way. God has chosen to rule this world through the prayers of his people. He also governs blocks, neighborhoods, and entire cities that way.
To see their cities transformed, pastors and other spiritual leaders need to be intentional about mobilizing believers to pray for their neighbors and for their cities. Here are some ways for leaders to encourage city-wide prayer:
Identify and Engage Intercessors
Intercessors are the point persons whom God uses to lay foundations of prayer for ministry. They have the ability to pray faithfully and effectively for other people and for kingdom causes for extended periods.
Finding and engaging intercessors must be a priority in mobilizing a city to pray. Every church has intercessors who are willing to labor in prayer when informed of a need. In one church 25 members identified themselves as intercessors when the pastor offered them a free book on prayer.
Once identified, intercessors should be encouraged to focus significant prayer efforts on their city. They should be urged to pray in line with Gods will on such issues as:
unity among spiritual leaders in the city
revival in the city’s churches
motivating believers to pray for their neighbors
protection and guidance for public officials and city employees destruction of the devils works and breakdown of his strongholds It is also wise to bring intercessors in the city together from time to time for prayer, sharing, and celebration.
Pastors Do It First, Then Preach It
Pastors and church leaders must themselves model prayer in order for church members to take them seriously. When it comes to prayer, people will not follow a theorist. They will only follow a practitioner. Pastors who have already practiced what they preach are the ones most likely to experience success in challenging their people to pray for neighbors.
E. K. Bailey, pastor of the Concord Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, accepted the challenge to make his home a House of Prayer and to pray for five of his own neighbors before introducing the idea to his congregation. One neighbor on his prayer list was a Harvard law graduate who for years had spurned the gospel for intellectual reasons. As E. K. prayed, God softened this mans heart. Then, one Sunday, he showed up at a worship service and, to Pastor Bailey’s surprise, was the first person to respond to the gospel invitation. Prayer had made the difference. When E. K. Bailey, some weeks later, preached on prayer and challenged his people to pray for their neighbors, a great many of them responded and formed their own Houses of Prayer. They simply followed their leader.
Challenge All Church Members to Pray for Neighbors
Gods society-transforming prayer plan in 1 Timothy 2:1-4 calls for all believers to make "requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving . . . for everyone." A congregational plan to pray for neighbors must not be "a program" for a small percentage of the members. It ought to be a lifestyle for all the members.
Pastors need to challenge all their members to pray for their neighbors with sermons on passages like 1 Timothy 2:1-4, Colossians 4:2-6, and John 14:12-14.
For a simple, easy way to begin, members can then use the five-n-five prayer challenge: pray five blessings for five neighbors for five minutes a day, five days a week, for five weeks. HOPE’s Five Blessings brochure serves as a training tool for this exercise. In this brochure the word BLESS is used as an acronym to help intercessors remember five important ways to pray for neighbors:
B Body - health, protection, strength
L Labor - work, income, security
E Emotional - joy, peace, hope
S Social - love, marriage, family, friends
S Spiritual - salvation, faith, grace
Any believer who is able to participate in worship can pray this way—young or old, new or long-term Christian, educated or uneducated. Families are encouraged to pray this way together. Singles may do it alone or join with others.
When Craig Turley, pastor the Covenant Family Church of Redlands, California, introduced the House of Prayer concept to his congregation, 100 percent of the members accepted the Five Blessings challenge to pray for their neighbors. Turley later commented, "Praying for neighbors in Houses of Prayer is having the effect of intensifying prayer in all aspects of our congregations life. Its also causing us to reach out with love to those around us."
Combine the Efforts of Many Churches to Plant Houses of Prayer on Every
A single church can make an impact, but it will take the combined efforts of several churches working together to make your city a city of praying neighbors.
Pastors who come together for prayer and mutual support are in the best position to give leadership to such a united prayer effort. They need to agree first of all on a common strategy and then on a common starting time. Implementation plans offered by HOPE, will facilitate such combined efforts.
Leaders should also plan for a way to map the city and identify where Houses of Prayer are located or need to be located in order to cover every block. A Neighborhood Mobilization Database, made available by Mapping Center for Evangelism, is designed specifically for this purpose. It can be ordered by calling 1-888-MAP-7997.
Appoint Key People to Administrate the Ministry
Once the combined effort has begun, some key people will be needed to
coordinate efforts and insure that the ministry is sustained for the long
term. Consider appointing
a computer-literate person to chart the existing Houses of Prayer
a coordinator to keep in touch with intercessors
a convener for the pastors prayer network
a coordinator for community-wide prayer events
Leaders should also establish some dates for combined prayer events. These will provide a time to recast the vision, report results, share answers to prayer, and celebrate Gods goodness. Some cities are now having combined Sunday-evening worship services quarterly for this purpose.
I believe God wants every town and city in America to be a city of praying neighbors. This is the desire of his heart. God wants all to come to salvation, all to come to a knowledge of the truth, and all society to be transformed. His plan to make that happen, in one word, is prayer. In four words, it is "requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving . . . made for everyone (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
God, in his sovereignty, can transform a city any time he chooses. But since he chooses to work in response to the prayers of his people, we can expect it to happen in those times and in those places where his people, in obedience to his command, earnestly and urgently pray. Gods part is to act in line with his promises. Our part is to pray. God always does "his part." The only question that remains has to do with "our part."
Our part is obedience. And obedience to a clear command of Scripture cannot be delayed. Don’t put this off! Start right now.
For additional information contact:
Houses of Prayer Everywhere ,PO Box 141312 Grand Rapids, MI 49514 800-217-5200 / 616-791-9926 (FAX)
Dr. Alvin Vander Griend, Executive Director email@example.com
Paul W. Dozeman, Associate Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 1998, NPPN - Permission granted for duplication or distribution among facilitators and intercessors who are committed to gathering pastors for prayer.
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#015 = A CITY OF PRAYING NEIGHBORS
By Alvin Vander Grienda