“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2
Prayer for our cities begins at home and in our neighborhoods. Here’s a simple plan for “Prayer Walking Your Neighborhood.”
for your neighbors by name, considering their physical and spiritual needs, concerns, and health. Ask the Lord to show you what He is doing in your neighborhood. While you are walking and praying, engage any neighbors you may meet along the way.
Wait on God
Your Father is already at work in your neighborhood. Wait for Him to invite you into what He is doing. This is a waiting with great anticipation.
to see what the Father is doing. As you are praying, He may reveal things through something He puts on your heart or speaks to you, as you talk to a neighbor, or as you see a need.
your Father as He invites you into what He is doing in your neighborhood. Enjoy the adventure!
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36
Care flows from a heart that is filled with compassion for those in your home and neighborhood. If you love them as yourself, your heart will go out to those in your neighborhood. As you pray for them, you will begin to care for them the way you care for yourself.
Here’s where you start.
Co-laboring with God
Once the Lord invites you into what He is doing, recognize that this is His doing and that He will give you the grace to care for those in your neighborhood.
The needs of neighbors are manifold. All you need to do is take some time to talk with your neighbors and before long they will fill you in on the needs of others who live on your block. Invite neighbors over for dinner or coffee and they will open up like a flower about what is going on in their hearts, their families, and the things that concern them most.
Learn to ask good questions and then “listen.” Did I say listen? Resist trying to interject things to say while they are talking. It shuts down the flow of things coming from their heart. Offer to pray for them if it seems appropriate.
Meet the Need
When a neighbor’s need becomes apparent, meet the need. They will never listen to our words, until they know we really care. Meeting the need may be just listening, or helping with something around their home, or providing food for them. Caring for them opens their hearts to relationship. Don’t be surprised if they want to help you. On the other hand, don’t be surprised if they never offer to help you.
You can’t do everything.
Keep in mind that every need in your neighborhood is not your responsibility. Sometimes you will have to say, “No.” A neighbor may want to take advantage of your kind heart and that’s where you need to be as wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove. For some, this may be hard, but you want to be about your Father’s business.
You may need a partner.
Enlist others in your neighborhood to help you with larger tasks. Look for helpful neighbors who would like to help you bear the burden of a needy neighbor. Don’t do it alone. You will burn out and give up on caring for your neighbors.
“And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ…” Colossians 4:3
If you look at the accounts of Jesus sharing about Himself and the Gospel of the kingdom, you will never see Him do it the same way twice. No, never. Sometimes an account happened with very few words, like the man next to Him on the cross, but on other occasions they were lengthier. I love observing how He beautifully revealed who He was to the woman at well (John 4). He was a master of the moment for sharing the Gospel. The Lord will give you these kinds of moments with your neighbors. It may be in a one-on-one situation, over a meal, in a small group setting…you name it.
Be ready to give an Answer
When God opens a door for the Gospel, allow the Holy Spirit to speak through you as you share your story and then His story. We see the Apostle Paul using this approach in the book of Acts. Become effective in sharing the Gospel in this manner with your neighbors. Role-playing is a very helpful tool for training.
Here are a few pointers for getting started:
Share your story.
Write out your story and include these three parts:
- What your life was like before you met Jesus.
- How you came into a relationship with Him.
- What your life is like now that you have Him in your life.
Be able to share your story in just a few minutes, depending on the situation.
Share His story
- Read the Gospels so you become familiar with the big picture of Jesus’ life, ministry, the cross, and resurrection.
- Memorize verses that you can share when you are imparting the Gospel. The more verses you memorize the freer you are when sharing the Gospel.
- Of course, you can take them to one of the Gospels and let them read it (or you can read it) and give their impressions as they read. So often, we want to give our understanding first, but allow them to respond with their thoughts. When they begin to ask you questions, then you have earned the right to speak. 1 Peter 3:15
Listen to their response
Ask them their response to what they have heard or read to see if they are receptive and open to the Lord.
If they are responsive, stay with them
If they listen to you and what they have heard, stay with that person, as Jesus said. You have found a person of peace. Devote time to the relationship and help them in their new walk with Lord.