Although Houses of Prayer are biblical, simple, culturally correct, and powerful, and although God can use them to change whole churches and even whole cities, they’re not necessarily easy. The going may be tough at times. Especially in North America, starting and maintaining Houses of Prayer may not be as easy as we might imagine. There are several reasons for this situation. None of these reasons, however, is an insurmountable difficulty. As Jesus himself declares, “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
1. North America is not a praying culture. Several surveys from the early 1990s revealed that the average Christian in North America spends only about four minutes a day in prayer. And much of this praying is simply a perfunctory mouthing of familiar phrases with little engagement of the mind and heart. North American Christians tend to be casual pray-ers. By way of contrast, in countries such as Korea or India, new Christians come together several nights a week to spend hours praying together for their neighbors as well as for themselves.
To counteract this tendency toward light praying, North American Christians need to make definite prayer commitments in contexts that include accountability. Small beginnings of even five minutes a day will expand if Christians continue to pray and begin to see God working in response. In addition, prayer for others soon engages the mind and heart and generates the kind of love (God’s love in Christ) that keeps fueling the prayer life.
2. North Americans are overly individualistic. Most North Americans cannot name their three closest neighbors. This means that our three closest neighbors very likely do not know us either, which is not a very good way to let our light shine. Things like television, high fences, gated communities, busy lifestyles, No Solicitors signs, cocooning, and fear keep us separate and independent. Because of this individualistic spirit, neighborhoods in our country are not places in which people are well connected. We don’t know what’s going on in each other’s lives.
In Third World countries, by way of contrast, neighbors are so well connected that news can spread throughout a whole village in a matter of a few hours. Such a climate is much more conducive to people praying for, caring for, and sharing Christ’s blessings with their neighbors.
Intercessory prayer, however, has a way of breaking through individualism and creating greater community. House of Prayer participants often note that neighbors begin to connect with each other and neighborhoods become more friendly as they pray.
3. North Americans tend to be overbusy. Our lives are so filled with things to do—most of them not bad things—that we hardly have time for prayer and meaningful relationships. Our busyness, combined with the fact that we do not understand the importance of prayer, means that prayer often gets put near the bottom of our to do lists and receives very little time.
Houses of Prayer change this pattern by offering simple and manageable ways for believers to make prayer a priority in their lives. A brief, satisfying prayer time, which makes an obvious difference in the lives of neighbors, will quickly grow into a more extended prayer time. Accountability relationships with prayer partners will also help to keep pray-ers faithful in the face of temptations to use time in less important ways.
Oh God, what seems impossible to me is never difficult for You to accomplish! I lift up my church and ask that You would breathe fresh life into us so that we might become excited about being lights in our neighborhoods! Give us fresh enthusiasm to pray for, care about and share with others the Light of the World shining in our lives as we reflect Jesus to them. Convict us of our prayerlessness, our individualism and our busyness so that we might cast down these idols that have sidelined our lives and kept us from being world changers. You have called us to be a house of prayer for all nations! May we be obedient to Your word!
–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 the most high God, whose kingdom is eternal and who is sovereign over all the earth (Dan. 4:2-3, 17). Thank God for being your Lord, as well as your Savior. Confess any pockets of resistance to his rule in your life. Commit your full and lifelong allegiance to the Lord. Ask him to use you in extending his rule.
Pray that your family will be God’s loyal subjects in his kingdom. Pray that “the footprints that we leave will lead them to believe, and the lives we live inspire them to obey.”
–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend
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Connection (Devotions for Everyday Life) © 2014 is published daily by Harvest Prayer Ministries.