But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?…He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”—Luke 11:29, 36
Are you a good neighbor? We usually think of good neighbors as those who keep their dog in their yard, keep their lawn manicured, their house in good repair, does not make trouble for others, does not disrespect their fellow neighbors through thoughtless actions, votes for the things that impact the community within which they live…
But have you ever thought that being a good neighbor also entails praying for those in your community and neighborhood? The neighbors you know and those you don’t.
It’s not uncommon for intercessors to feel a deep sensitivity toward particular people groups or places. A deep need and urgency to pray for those facing particular challenges in life such as people who pray for women, or children or the sick…The Holy Spirit gives our assignments in prayer and assigns burdens for others so we will be faithful to pray as we should. Sometimes these prayer burdens are referred to as: Points of Identification. Meaning we are able to feel the burden of others and even weep with them and cry out for them in prayer even when we are not directly affected. Most intercessors find it is impossible to pray effectively, or fervently for conditions or people they do not feel a strong passion toward. For example if your prayers are going to make a difference to take over darkness you will have to feel a passion for winning the lost to Christ.
But unless we feel an urgency to pray for a particular group or area, or have a deep sensitivity to a particular area or stronghold, we should consider that the Holy Spirit is assigning us to the place we are: that He has assigned us to watch over (pray for) the people living in the communities and neighborhoods where we reside.
It’s tempting to think the life of a traveling intercessor is more important or more exciting than the person who stays at home to pray, praying from their kitchen table or recliner. We might feel God doesn’t think our prayers are powerful enough to assign regions or ministries or countries to us…
We might feel that watching over (praying for) our community, family or neighborhood is a lower (prayer) assignment. But nothing could be further from the truth because every heart in every community is important to God! If you are assigned to pray for your family, your prayers are no less important than the intercessor who has been assigned to pray at the city gate. It has been said that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world: Then could it also be true that the prayer that begins in our home, with our family, in our neighborhood and community shapes and determines the spiritual temperature there? Every heart is important to Jesus! And the winning of every heart for Jesus is imperative for peace in our homes, communities, cities, and countries!
Today we start a series of prayers under the category: Praying for our Neighborhoods and Communities. Who are those in our communities and neighborhoods that need our prayers?
- The Elderly
- Families of all kinds
- Children of all ages
- The Sick
- The emotionally disturbed and mentally ill
- The Abused
- The lost and misguided
- The unborn
- The unemployed
- The lost and misguided
- The addicted…
Our communities and neighborhoods need the covering of heaven and the presence of heavenly forces. Troubled homes need the peace only God can give. The abused need protection only God can provide. The lost and misguided need to know Jesus is their only Lord and Savior so they are certain when others tell them differently.
As an intercessor I sometimes wonder, envision, (and pray) how our communities, neighborhoods and cities would look like if every intercessor spent a dedicated amount of time each week if not daily, praying for their community and neighborhood. Surely, the holes that have been left by lack of prayer would be filled in and the evil that has crept in through the gaps would be forced out. For sure our crime rates would plummet. The number of murder-suicides would decrease. Child abduction would end. Bullying and gang violence would be non-existent. Abuse and domestic violence would cease. Pick a stronghold to pray for and see a victory for good!
In the book of Luke (11:25-37), Jesus had a conversation with a man who was trying to whittle his way out of caring for his neighbor: Looking for some kind of loophole that excused him from caring for others. Jesus told him a parable and in the end explained that a neighbor is defined, not by physical borders or regions, but by acts of mercy. We would do well to consider prayer as an act of mercy; as being a good neighbor!
As an intercessor who is your neighbor? Well your neighbor is as close to you as the person you share your home with or those who are to the north, south, east, and west… they are as close as one, two, three states away. They are as close as those in another country or continent. Every human heart, subjected to every human condition is our neighbor!
But we don’t have to go overseas or to third-world countries to find a hungry child. We don’t have to travel to other states to find the displaced or uneducated, or unemployed. They are in our own city, walking down our street, living next door to us. Their plight may not be newsworthy, they may not have some exotic story, they may not capture the hearts of millions, but they are in need of our prayers.
In the coming blogs as we begin praying for our neighbors allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in prayer. Some days He may ask you to walk or drive through your neighborhood and pray for particular strongholds such as the abused or grieving or the lonely or depressed…He may ask you to pause outside a home and pray for the people living inside…Some days He may direct you to pray for a neighbor by name…Some days He may ask you to follow up your private prayers with a card or note to your neighbor… Perhaps He may direct you to pause at each corner and pray no spirit of darkness or destruction be allowed to enter into your neighborhood…
As we pray for our neighborhoods let’s anticipate a change in the atmosphere and spiritual temperature. Let’s expect victory and freedom for those currently in bondage. Let’s expect that some hearts and homes will be won for Jesus and all of heaven will be rejoicing with us as we pray for our neighbors!