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27

Begin with Prayer

by
Scott Benson

Ask God to speak as you interact with today's Scripture and devotional.

“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles.” — Luke 6:12-13

Jesus began every new ministry initiative with prayer. He never took a first step without first checking in with His Father. Just before designating His team of twelve, Jesus spent the night in prayer, knowing the critical importance of the decision before Him. Dave and Jon Ferguson note that many of us might have been tempted to “skip the prayer part and just pick the guys we liked the most or who seemed to be the most gifted.” But that was not the way of Jesus. He was always intentional to lean heavily on His Father for wisdom and direction. 

Dave and Jon offer additional insights on the importance of beginning with prayer: 

If you are not regularly praying for people by name, I doubt God will use you to help change them. I believe this for two reasons: First, God has chosen to work through us so that ‘they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven’ (Matthew 5:14-16). So prayer is connecting to the Source that will bring change in others. Second, prayer is connecting to the Source that will change you! When you begin with prayer, God begins to change your heart, and you begin to feel what God feels for other people. They are no longer projects. When God's Spirit allows you to feel what God feels, you get ideas that come from God, like “send a text to your neighbor to see how he's doing” or “ask your friend if she's got time for coffee this week.” When they ask you, “What's up?” you just say, “I was praying and just thought of you.” Often the timing of those promptings to reach out is remarkable. Many times, I've heard people tell me, “Wow your timing is crazy.” It's because God uses prayer to change others, but He also uses it to change you (Ferguson, p. 42).

In a recent survey by Lifeway Research, they discovered that the practice that most predicts higher spiritual maturity in someone is praying more often for opportunities to tell others about Jesus Christ. They go on to report that the second most predictive indicator of spiritual growth is how often we pray for the spiritual status of people we know who are not professing Christians. 

This week we have the opportunity to ask the Holy Spirit to continue moving in the lives of neighbors we know who are still far from God. Here are two tools that can help you begin praying for them: 

  • “Who Is My Neighbor?” Map — This tool can help you start praying for the eight people who live closest to you. Begin by clicking on the “Who is my Neighbor?” Map button below. Next, write the names of your eight closest neighbors in the squares on the Map. (Those eight people could also be work associates or friends). Once you’ve identified their names, begin to pray for them, based on what you know about their spiritual interests or other things going on in their lives. You might also realize that there are some names of neighbors that you don’t know yet. Pray for opportunities to meet them. Consider how you might begin praying regularly for your neighbors by name. 

Click HERE to see the “Who Is My Neighbor?” Map


  • Prayer Walks' — Alan Amavisca is a part of our Friends Church family and leads North County Project (northcountyproject.org), a ministry whose mission is making healthy disciples who make healthy disciples among the one million unchurched people in North Orange County. Part of their ministry strategy is to equip people to prayer walk in their neighborhood. Alan offers us some helpful how-to guidelines for spending 15-30 minutes in prayer walking your neighborhood. Although you can do this alone, he suggests that you invite someone to join you. 

Before you go:

  • Whether you’re going solo or partnering with someone, pray before you go. 
  • Ask the Spirit to prepare you for everything that you might encounter. 
  • Ask for His leading and insight in directing the focus of your prayers. 
  • Prayer is spiritual warfare — declare God as sovereign ruler; affirm your own identity in Christ. 
  • Ask the Spirit to bring unity of mission and purpose to your team. 

As you go:

  • Pray as you walk! Keep your eyes open — it’s okay! 
  • Pray for discernment so you can see what God sees:
  • Look for signs of change in your neighborhood. 
  • Look for evidence of God at work: churches, Christian signs, encouraging messages. 
  • Look for evidence of need: poverty, disorder, messages antagonistic to God, social evil, tagging by gangs.
  • Pray over homes that appear to have Christians living there.
  • Pray over homes that appear to have people from other religions living there. 
  • Pray with Scripture as God brings it to mind.
  • If anyone asks what you're doing, share that you’re praying for God's blessing over the neighborhood. As God leads you, ask if you can pray for them and if they have any needs for which you can pray. 

After you finish:

  • Take a few minutes to reflect on and write down what you learned or where you saw God at work.
  • If partnering with someone or a group, share those reflections with each other (Luke 10:17). 

Next time:

  • Consider walking in the opposite direction to get a new perspective of your neighborhood.
  • Try walking at different times of the day in order to meet other people. 
  • If your neighborhood has a social gathering place (a park or a coffee shop), consider stopping to observe. Watch what is going on and pray for what you see. God may prompt you to pray quietly for a specific person or to engage directly with someone to pray for them.

reflect

Answer the questions below and write down any other thoughts and prayers to God in your Life in Rhythm journal.

  1. As you fill out the “Who is My Neighbor?” tool, how do you sense God’s leading to pray for your neighbors?
  2. Will you consider the possibility of going on a Prayer Walk this week? When could you go? Who could you invite to join you?

Go deeper (optional)

Every day you'll have an opportunity to "go deeper" into God's Word by practicing the REAP study method. Read the following scripture and use your journal and the REAP method to unpack the following scripture and apply it to your life.

2 Timothy 1:7-10
Learn more about reap