Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need’” (Luke 11:5-8).
Jesus, in his parable of the friend who came at midnight, gives us a word picture of how intercession works. In his story, there are three friends: the friend who comes at midnight is a friend in-need. The friend to whom the concerned host goes to receive help is a friend-with-bread, and the host is the friend-in-the-middle.
The friend-in-the-middle is a type of intercessor. Concerned to place something before his friend-in-need, he goes to his friend-with-bread to ask for three loaves. The friend-with-bread initially declines but then relents and gives him the bread because of his persistence in asking. The friend-in-the-middle, in turn, brings the bread back to his friend-in-need.
Jesus is teaching us here that our neighbors are like the man who came at midnight. They have needs—needs that we cannot meet with our own resources. God, like the friend-with-bread, has infinite resources to meet the needs of those around us. We, like the friend-in-the-middle, go to God and ask him to supply the needs of our neighbors. And God, in response to our asking, gives what is needed.
I don’t know of any form of ministry that is simpler than this. It doesn’t require a lot of planning. It doesn’t demand new structures or lots of material. It doesn’t even cost anything. It just takes a believer who is willing to take a few minutes a day to talk to the Father in heaven about his or her neighbor and who is willing to reach out to share Christ’s blessings.
Not only is this ministry simple enough for anyone to do, it is also culturally correct for today. People, even unbelieving people, welcome prayer. Most people are receptive to the offer of a Christian to pray for them and are even willing to give prayer requests. A church I am familiar with in Kalamazoo, Michigan, that intentionally prayed for and visited the people in a twelve-block area for two years had only one household reject their offer to pray.
The door is wide open. God has set the stage for effective prayer evangelism ministry. W. Stanley Mooneyham admonished, “Let us stop complaining that we don’t have enough people, enough money, enough tools. That is simply not true. There is no shortage of anything we need—except vision, prayer, and will. Prayer is the one resource immediately available to each of us.”
Believers who band together to pray for others, essentially creating neighborhood Houses of Prayer, find that prayer powerfully changes their own lives and the lives of the people they pray for.
Lord God Almighty, You are the God of all that is…and You have given me access to everything in Your personal arsenal that can help me to be a vital part in finishing the task of reaching the world for Jesus Christ. Forgive me for my lack of enthusiasm and initiative…for my excuses and fearfulness. Show me how to draw my family and believing neighbors into partnership through prayer to reach others around us…and then extend our reach into the rest of our community and beyond. Build our faith as we place ourselves in the middle to be the conduit for Your power to reach the hearts of others!
–Adapted from Shine His Light: A Simple Way to Pray, Care and Share Jesus in Your Neighborhood by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise Jesus Christ for his incomprehensible humility. Thank him for humbling himself to die on the cross that you might be set free. Confess any pride, egotism, or boastfulness you find in yourself. Commit yourself to doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility considering others better than yourself (Phil. 2:3). Pray that you may have the mind of Christ in all matters such as priorities, goals, time management, vocational choices, relationships, and recreation.
Pray for the church throughout the world that its divisions may be healed, its leaders endowed with the Spirit’s power, its people filled with zeal for the cause of Christ, so that the church may increase daily and the kingdom be advanced.
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