Monday, April 12, 2010

Praying for others as outreach

The top 100 church planters worldwide were interviewed and studied to find what was common in what they were doing, in the hopes that a new method or process might be discovered. After it was all said and done, the only common denominator was prayer. Three hours a day of prayer was the minimum… 21 hours a week in prayer. Most of these church-planting giants also work full time secular jobs at 40 to 60 hours a week. (My source for most of the information in this post is David Watson, but I can only point you to his website, not to the related research. I heard some of this on a recording.)

 

Most parents who model prayer for their children do so at meal time and and bed time. Those prayers are usually two-minute prayers. Our churches model prayers in worship, and those are usually two-minute prayers as well. Sometimes an inspired pastor or deacon will pray for a long five minutes. Sadly, for many people two and five minutes is the extent of their daily prayer lives. 

 

Praying for 15 minutes,  an hour, or two hours can seem like an impossible feat. However if you were to write down on a piece of paper the names of everyone you know, you’re not going to pray for them all in 10 minutes.

 

Try something like this with your church and your prayer groups for a month:

1. When you meet together. Pass out some lined paper and pens to all who are present.

2. Have everyone begin writing down the names of everyone they know personally. This should take a long while and the list should be very long.

3. Ask everyone to go back and put a cross (†) next to the name of everyone they know is a follower of Jesus.

4. Have them put a minus sign (-) next to every name of someone who is not a Christ follower.

5. Have them put a question mark (?) next to the name of anyone that they are not sure about their faith.

6. You may also want to mark on the other side of the name with a check (√) if you know for sure that they know that you are a Christian and know about your relationship with Jesus.

If someone has a list of mostly crosses, they are probably not building relationships outside of their Christian social groups and church. People who have mostly minus signs, are often new Christians or first generation Christians. (People in this group make the best evangelists.) If someone has mostly question marks, that person is probably not engaging their acquaintances and friends on a spiritual level.

 

Pray for your fellow Christians in their walk and as you remember them in prayer, consider how you can stimulate them to a closer walk with Jesus and to good works. Consider how you can meet their needs and love them. Consider what it means to be living as brothers and sisters in Christ with those people, even though they may not be members of your church or denomination. Do you pray with your neighbors and friends who are Christian, but not part of your church body?

 

Pray for those that you know are not Christian. Pray specifically for God to break down those barriers to faith in their lives. As you pray for them, consider how you in both word and deed can disciple these friends and acquaintances of yours to faith in Christ. Consider needs they may have and how you can help them in those areas.

 

Pray for those that you have ignored spiritually. As you pray for them, seek to know them better so that you can change the question mark to a plus or minus. Pray for opportunities and make commitments with God and your prayer partners to engage those question marked friends and acquaintances. Go beyond the superficial and begin talking about the place of God in your lives.

 

Ask forgiveness of God for the friendships and acquaintances in which you have been spiritually ambiguous. Make a commitment with God and with your prayer partners to right that wrong. Remember that our love for God is a part of our identity. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)

 

Now, all this is more than a plan of involvement disguised as prayer. Prayer makes a spiritual difference in people’s lives. God’s Spirit moves as we ask for this in Jesus name. Consider an experiment that was tried in Phoenix, AZ, as documented in the book, The Praying Church Idea Book by Douglas A. Kamstra. 

The church randomly selected 160 names from the phone book and divided then into two groups.  For 90 days they prayed for one group while they ignored the other.  At the end of 90 days they called all 160 homes, identified themselves and offered to stop by and pray for the family and any needs they might have. Of the 80 homes that were not prayed for, only one person invited them in.  From the 80 homes that were prayed for, 69 people invited them to come over and of those people, 45 invited them into their homes.  Felicity Dale

1 comments:

jamison may said...

Stephen, this is a great prayer exercise. At first glance, I would be in trouble for lack of non Christian aquaintances. I think this is a problem for most ministers in the West in the traditional church where office hours are expected and we are on call for every homebound and hospital visit. Alix said that this exercise realy helped to change her prayer life.

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