Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Pray, Care, Share Begins And Ends With Prayer

     If you've read the last few posts on my blog, you've read the testimonies of several people in our church who went prayer walking (or prayer driving) a few weeks ago. Honestly, I was surprised at the number of people who responded to my request for testimonies. I was surprised at the number of encounters. I shouldn't have been. Dozens of us had been praying for our neighbors for several months. What should I have expected?
     Prayer is the priority of a caring, sharing church. At least that's the way I read the Bible. Before Jesus sent out the 12, he told them, "The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." (Mt.9:37-38)  Before He sent out 70 more, he told them, "The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." (Lk.10:2)
     Before He sent the Holy Spirit to fill and propel the first church out into the world, He said, "And look, I am sending you what My Father promised. As for you, stay in the city until you are empowered from on high." (Lk.24:49) Then Luke tells us how they lived out that obedience, "All these were continually united in prayer," (Acts1:14) And, when Paul taught the church at Ephesus how to act like God's household, how to live as the church of the living God, he gave them this priority, "First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for everyone," (1Tim.2:1) and that the priority of the church was the mission of God to save sinners through the preaching of the Gospel.
     So, after months of prayer, many of us went out. And, as we went out, we experienced divine encounters. Through prayer, our hearts had been prepared. Through prayer, we were led to the harvest. The danger, the risk, is always that we will pray, go, get busy, and then forget to pray.
     That's what has happened again and again to the church. In dependence on God, we wait and pray. In obedience to God we go, love, care, and share. Then the harvest begins to come in. We get busy. We keep loving, caring, and sharing, but we stop praying. Then the harvest seems to dry up. Why?
     The harvest never dries up. We dry up. The harvest does not occur because of us. It occurs because of God. It is His harvest. We are His servants. The power of God, the control and fullness of His Holy Spirit, comes when we obey Him. It does come when we finally go, care, and share the Gospel. It also comes when we pray. Going is no substitute for abiding. They are two sides of the same coin.
     Do not forget to pray. Do not neglect prayer. Especially when the harvest begins to come in. You will need Him more than ever when it does, and you cannot abide in Him if you do not abide in prayer.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Misunderstanding, A Pot Of Peas, And A Neighbor - Prayer Walk Testimonies

I thought I had told everyone just to bring a sack lunch and we would eat and go out after church to walk our individual neighborhoods. As we were gathering after church, a young mother in our church approached me, "I thought we were having pot luck, so I made a pot of peas." My wife, beside me, said, "Yeah, I was unclear about that, too."  I felt bad that this mom had gone to all that trouble, apologized, and we had to go on our way.  Guess what God did with my mistake, a misunderstanding, and that pot of peas. Well, you don't have to guess. Here's the prayer walk testimony about it all.

Would you believe we were able to share lunch with one of our neighbors since we had such a big ol' pot of peas! One neighbor we've been praying for pulled in the same time we did. We stopped to talk to him and he said he'd been to church. I asked if we could pray for him and he couldn't think of any needs he had but was open to prayer so we just praised God for His provision and love. The last time we'd prayed with this neighbor he was in tears over a friend's health condition. His friend is doing fine now. What a blessing. God is so good.

So, the peas didn't go to waste. God was praised. Healing had occurred. The body of Christ was strengthened. You never know what's going to happen when you step out your front door on mission with God.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Prayer Drive And Special Prayer For A Neighbor We Know - Prayer Walk Testimonies

Some of us couldn't make our neighborhood on foot, so we "prayer drove" rather than "prayer walked." Here's one such testimony.

Ok, we went 29 miles in 1 hour and 35 minutes. Made all our neighbors and called out each name in prayer. No activity or vehicles home at most homes, but we were able to see the overall picture of our neighborhood.

Here's another family that prayer walked with all their children, most of whom are teenagers.

It was really cool because all my children could choose their houses and then pray. We didn't see anybody outside, but was thinking how cool it was and how it didn't take long to pray for each one. Many of them we prayed that they would come to know God, but in front of one neighbors home who we know personally we prayed God would continue to use her as an encouragement and a light to our parish.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Cake And A Divine Appointment - Prayer Walk Testimonies

You may have heard someone say they had a "divine appointment." Most people don't mean they encountered an angel or a vision of God when they say this. What they do mean is that they had an encounter with someone that was so unexpected that it was clearly arranged by God.  Here is the story of one such encounter during a prayer walk last week.

"I prayed over my neighborhood then decided to stop at one place where I thought a family lived, but it was a widow who lived alone. I had taken a cookie cake with me and she invited me in. When she told me her name, she was one of my prayer neighborsI told her I had been praying for her and invited her to church. With tears in her eyes, she said, 'I have been wondering where I could go to church. I know God sent you to me.' At this point I was in tears of course. We visited and I prayed with her. Hope to see her Sunday!! It was awesome!!"

So this believer was praying for her 100 closest neighbors through Pray 4 Every Home and went prayer walking to pray on site with insight. She thought she was going to visit a family she knew, but found someone she didn't know in a house where she didn't think they belonged. Then she found out she did know her, and that God had arranged for her to have been praying for a widow for weeks before their face-to-face encounter.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Prayer Walk Testimonies: As We Walked, Our Hearts Changed

"During our prayer walk our eyes were opened to the diversity in our neighborhood. Our neighborhood goes from not-so-great to "well-off" all within a block. As we walked, our prayers changed. People have so many different needs but what we kept coming back to is that everyone needs Jesus. We also realized how out of touch we are with those who live near us. How many times do we see our neighbors at the store and not know them? How many Christians live in our neighborhood that we don't talk to and encourage and join together with? As we walked, our hearts also changed. We began to wave when we would usually avoid looking. We began to talk about what we could do to help the single mom who lives right next door. God is growing our love for those around us. We went on another walk this evening."

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A Horse, A Healing, A Broken Heart - Prayer Walk Testimonies

     After our prayer walk (drive) we were hungry, went to a local restaurant, and were about to pray for our food. I asked the waitress if there was anything we could pray for for her. She immediately teared up, and told us she was fighting for custody of a child. We prayed with her and even got to meet her child.
     We left the restaurant and went to Walmart for groceries. As we got out of the car, so did one of our neighbors who we had just prayed for. We had just prayed for her husband who was having testing for possible cancer. She told us that many of the tumors the doctors saw are gone and they believe he does not have cancer. We praised God together in the parking lot.
     As we prayer walked we had prayed again and again that God would give us opportunities to demonstrate His love to them, to care. Well, yesterday afternoon (the day after the prayer walk), Denise came in and said, "There's a horse out in front of our neighbor's house." I went out with her. She called the neighbor in whose yard the horse was.
     That neighbor said it belonged to another neighbor on the other side of the pasture. They called the neighbor and then we tried to keep the horse from running off. Now, if you know me, you know that me corralling a horse is truly an act of God. I'm not afraid of a lot of animals, but horses and I just don't get along. But, by the time we were able to reach the owners of the horse, that young mare was following me, (without a feed bucket), like a puppy dog up into our yard where we waited  for the owner to come get her. And, she was too young to be well-trained, so she was pretty skittish. She belonged to a neighbor who was the son of another neighbor in the yard of a neighbor, all of whom we had been praying for.
     We asked for opportunities to demonstrate the love of Christ, opportunities to serve our neighbors. Within 24 hours, we had been able to serve 5 of them.  I just have to point this out. We had been praying for three months for our neighbors. Nothing had happened until we walked out the door and began to look for ways to care. And then, the ways we cared for our neighbors had nothing to do with our ideas but with their needs. Praise God!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Unexpected Blessings From Prayer Walking Our Neighborhoods

     Many of us at our church have been praying for our neighbors for at least a month using the resources of a ministry called Pray 4 Every Home. It's a great tool. You log in your address, and it generates a list of your 100 closest neighbors. Then you are emailed 5 of their names each day. So, in less than a month, you can pray for 100 homes by name. Imagine what God would do if every member of every church in America did this. The whole nation would be lifted to God, by name, in less than a month.
     Well, praying isn't all God commands us to do. We are to go into the world and share the gospel. But, how many Christians do you know who say they don't really know anyone who isn't a believer. The only reason most of us don't is because we aren't paying attention. We pray, but we don't see. If we don't see, we don't care. If we don't care, we won't share. So, we took an extra step, literally.
     We set a date and encouraged the people of our church to take their list of neighbors and walk (or drive) and pray through the neighborhood. Prayer walking is often called "praying on site with insight." Prayer walking is great for the people we pray for, but it's also great for us. It changes us, giving us insight into our neighborhood, so that God can begin to open our hearts to opportunities to demonstrate the love of Christ in real ways and share the Gospel of Christ with real people.
     I have no idea how many in our church actually prayer walked. Some did. Some just went home. But, the ones who went and prayed were blessed. God did some wonderful things, and for the next few days I'm going to share some of those testimonies with you. Here's the first.

"Prayer walking my neighborhood changed my insight into how to pray. When I got my five neighbors to pray for in the email this morning after prayer walking all our neighborhood, I could picture each and every one of their homes. It made it personal, increasing my compassion."

NOTE: If you want more information about prayer walking, you can find it at Waymakers.