The Family Lighthouse
(Praying For Your Neighbors)
By Kim Butts
Prayer Evangelism is a new term that has found itself front and center in the movement of modern missions today. Prayer is the most powerful form of evangelism, and everyone can do it! It is my personal belief that no one comes to Christ apart from prayer. Many of us had parents, grandparents or friends who prayed that we would know Jesus personally. Some of us may not know who prayed for the eyes of our hearts to be opened, and may never know until we arrive in heaven. What we do know, through Scripture, is that no one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). And, no one can come to Jesus Christ unless the Father who sent Jesus draws him (John 6:44). God draws us to Himself through the prayers of His people. Be constantly aware of the people whom God places on your heart to pray for…they may be your prayer assignments. Your prayers may ultimately result in their eternal destiny being changed from darkness to light. The Lord wants everyone to pray for, care about and share his or her faith in Christ with others because He "wants all men [and women and children] to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). His way of accomplishing this is for His people to pray for those who are still in darkness.
Perhaps the greatest mission field that most families will ever have is the neighborhood. There are many families and individuals living within a short walking distance of your home who have never known Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Whether you live in a subdivision, an apartment building, a college dorm, or even out in the country, you can pray effectively and powerfully for your neighbors. One way to do this is by becoming a Lighthouse of Prayer! A Lighthouse of Prayer is made up of a family or a group of individuals who make an agreement to pray for, care about and share the Good News of Jesus with their neighbors. There are also Lighthouses in schools (praying for fellow students or teachers); in the workplace (praying for co-workers, employers, employees, etc.); in hospitals (praying for patients, medical personnel, etc.), and many other creative places.
Before getting into the how-to’s of becoming a Lighthouse of Prayer, let’s look at what God’s Word has to say about the significance of "light." If we are to be a Lighthouse of Prayer, we must understand what God is calling us to do. And, if we want to accomplish His plans and purposes on this earth, we should always look to see what His plans and purposes are!
1. God’s Word lights our path – "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Psalm 119:105). As we pray for our neighbors, we should always remember that His Word will bring life and light into the lives of others, as it has for us. Praying the Word of God into the lives and situations of those around us blesses them, and fulfills God’s desire to see us apply His Word to our actions. As a Lighthouse of Prayer, you could pray God’s literal blessings into the lives of your neighbors. For example, try praying the blessing from Numbers 6:24-26: "Lord, bless them and keep them. Make Your face shine upon them and be gracious to them. Father, turn Your face toward them and give them peace." Isn’t that a much more powerful prayer than, "Lord, bless our neighbors"?
2. God’s Word can give light and understanding to anyone – "The unfolding of your word gives light; it gives understanding to the simple" (Psalm 119:130). When we pray the Word of God into the lives and situations of others, God can do some amazing things. Those who could not understand before are able to grasp the things of God. When we pray, their hearts and minds can be opened to receive from the Lord.
3. God’s Word must shine through us so that others can see a difference – Matthew 5:14-16 says, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Your neighbors need to see the light of Jesus Christ in you. When they begin to see that there is a difference in you, they will want to know what it is…and they may even want it for themselves. "But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God" (John 3:21). We need to allow God’s plans and purposes to shine through us. When you pray for your neighbors, ask God to give you opportunities to care for them as well. Perhaps an elderly woman needs someone to mow the lawn, or a mother with a new baby would appreciate someone going to the grocery store for her. Maybe there is a new couple in the neighborhood who do not know anyone and would appreciate being invited over for dinner to get to know your family. God will open up many opportunities to care about people if you will simply ask Him. Then, He can allow your light to shine into the lives of others in a powerful way. Praying for neighbors will lead to caring about them, which will eventually open a door for you to share Jesus with them. "Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you" (Luke 11:36).
4. God’s Word can bring light to the lost – "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’" (John 8:12). God’s plan is for lost people to seek and know Christ. As we walk in obedience to the Lord, and begin to pray for them, their eyes can be opened so that the truth of Jesus can be made known to their hearts.
5. We need to live as children of the light – "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord" (Ephesians 5:8-10). As we begin to pray for our neighbors, and as we demonstrate the "fruit of the light" by living good, righteous and truthful lives, He will reveal more of Himself to us. It is our responsibility as Christians to read and study His Word so that we will know more and more what pleases Him. We know that praying for our neighbors pleases the Lord, because it is His strategy for reaching the lost.
6. Loving our neighbors is a result of living in the light – "Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble" (1 John 2:10). As we pray for our neighbors, we will find an amazing thing happening. We will begin to care for them more deeply, and even to love them as Jesus does. "For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6). Just as God created the light to shine out of the darkness, we are to shine brightly through the darkness around us. His light is in our hearts, and we have been given the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in Jesus. Our prayers can allow our neighbors to receive this light.
7. Walking in the light of Christ gives us the desire to pray for our neighbors to receive Him so that we might enjoy Christian fellowship together – "This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin" (1 John 1:5-7). Walking in the light of Christ is God’s perfect plan for His children. We all know neighbors and friends who need this light in their lives–to mend broken relationships, to heal sickness, to replace loneliness with meaningful friendships, etc.
Simply stated, the light of Christ helps Christians and non-Christians alike to see. His light for a Christian is intended to guide and direct us as we desire to line ourselves up with His plans and purposes for our lives. His light for the non-Christian is to help him or her to see the truth of Christ. Are you beginning to see the relationship between God’s Word and the desire He has to see us become a Lighthouse of Prayer that can effectively shine the truth of His Word into the lives of our neighbors? Here is one simple way to become a Lighthouse of Prayer – it is called the Five Blessings:
As a family, choose five neighbors to pray for. Pray for these neighbors:
• Five minutes a day,
• Five days a week,
• For five weeks,
• Pray the Five Blessings.
The Five Blessings are based on the acronym BLESS. You will bless your neighbors in prayer by praying for:
B - BODY – pray for their physical bodies; for health and safety
L - LABOR – pray for their work, school, finances
E - EMOTIONAL – pray for their emotional needs
S - SOCIAL – pray for their relationships with family and friends
S - SPIRITUAL – pray for their relationship with Jesus Christ
The most effective way to pray the Five Blessings for your neighbors, as we have already established, is to pray the Word of God into their lives. Here are some examples:
Body – Bless your neighbors by praying for their safety, health and well-being. You can pray Psalm 4:8: Lord, help my neighbors to lie down and sleep in peace because You make them dwell in safety. Or, pray Job 21:9a: Father, keep my neighbor’s home safe and free from fear.
Labor – Bless your neighbors by praying Psalm 90:17 over them: May Your favor rest upon my neighbors, Lord. Establish the work of their hands.
Emotional – Father, help our neighbors to live in peaceful, secure homes and to have undisturbed places of rest (Isaiah 32:18). Help them to know that the joy that comes from You is their strength (Nehemiah 8:10c).
Social – Lord, give my neighbors the ability to live in harmony with one another, and to be sympathetic, loving, compassionate and humble in their families and relationships (1 Peter 3:8).
Spiritual – Gracious God, let my neighbors see that You are the Way and the Truth and the Life. May they realize that no one can come to You except through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
Using this simple plan to pray for your neighbors as a family will yield powerful results – even though you may not see them for awhile. As you begin to pray for your neighbors, you will be amazed at how much love God pours into your hearts for them. Look for ways to show the love of Jesus to them through acts of caring. Then, as you feel led by the Holy Spirit, begin to share the gospel with them. Let them know what Jesus has done in your lives. Because you have prepared the ground in advance through prayer, and because you have shown them love through acts of caring, they will be more prepared and ready to hear what you have to say. Children love to pray for neighbors, and will readily join in. You will have an opportunity to grow as a family together in prayer and in the process of becoming more like Christ. Why not become a Lighthouse of Prayer in your neighborhood – even today!