We are intimately linked in this harvest work. Anyone who accepts what you do, accepts me, the One who sent you. Anyone who accepts what I do accepts my Father, who sent me. Accepting a messenger of God is as good as being God’s messenger. Accepting someone’s help is as good as giving someone help. This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing (Matthew 10:40-42 MSG).
Love is a powerful force. God’s love, demonstrated through Jesus Christ and poured out by his Spirit, has accomplished more than all the governments, all the armies, and all the educational institutions in the world. Families, small groups and churches who have determined that they will follow God’s mandate to be a house of prayer for all nations are channels of God’s love to their neighbors as they reach out with simple acts of kindness and give “the cup of cold water” in his name (Matthew 10:42).
Pastor Steve Sjogren and his church, the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Cincinnati, Ohio, have pioneered a refreshing new approach to sharing the love of Christ with others. It’s called “kindness evangelism.” They operate on the principle that practical, unassuming deeds of kindness done by Christians will convince more people of the love of God than words will. Steve Sjogren’s book Conspiracy of Kindness (Servant Publications, 1993) describes how the church offered free car washes, gave away food to single mothers, offered to clean restrooms in a mall, and provided free gift wrapping—always with no strings attached. Methods like this are making inroads into the hearts of otherwise indifferent people.
People who establish Houses of Prayer in their neighborhoods use this same approach. The only difference is that their acts of kindness are done for those who live or work nearby. . . and who have been prayed for regularly already. Here’s a list of the practical kinds of things that House of Prayer members do for their neighbors:
- Offer to care for a pet for vacationing neighbors.
- Organize a block party.
- Provide child care for a neighbor.
- Pick up trash lying around their neighborhood.
- Volunteer as a “neighborhood watch” house.
- Make themselves available for emergency transportation.
- Shovel snow off their neighbor’s driveway.
- Give clothing and toys that their children have outgrown to a family with younger kids who might need them.
- Offer to take a short walk with an elderly neighbor.
- Give away some of their garden produce.
Caring involves being present, making connections with people in their own daily lives. Neighborhood and workplace pray-ers have the advantage of being present with those for whom they intercede. They will be among the first to know their neighbors’ felt needs, and they will be in the best position to reach out to meet those needs. It is at the point of their needs, hopes, and desires that people are most open to prayer and to the grace of God. When God answers their felt-need prayer requests, they can’t help becoming aware of his power and love.
Grace-filled God, my heart longs to fulfill Your command to love those around me and to share the heart of Jesus with them. Help me to be present in the lives of my neighbors and co-workers so that I might know how to pray in life-giving ways for them. Show me their needs, hopes, struggles and joys so that I will be able to demonstrate the love of Jesus to them in practical, caring ways. Show Your life to them through me as I am led by the power of Your Spirit to make a difference in the lives of people You love.
—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.
5 Blessings Brochure – a FREE DOWNLOAD to help you pray for neighbors, co-workers, etc.
Magnify the Lord and exalt his name. Give thanks for the privilege of corporate worship. Confess any irreverent use of his name or wrong use of his day. Commit yourself to worshiping in Spirit and truth. Ask for the fruit of the Spirit in your life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
Pray for wives who will have the God-honoring beauty described in 1 Peter 3, who will love their husbands as the church loves Christ, and who will develop their gifts and skills for the sake of family and kingdom.
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