Praying with my eyes open

I started 2018 with fasting and prayer. During an early prayer time, I felt God calling me to intercede like never before for my community. He asked me to grant these people, with whom I share proximity, a higher level of priority.

I struggled with how to pray for my neighbors and their needs beyond a general covering thinking, “There’s gotta be an app for that.”

Not finding a “pray for your neighbors” app, I downloaded the Nextdoor app and began praying through daily posts. As I read each post, I brought my neighbors’ names and needs before the Lord asking God to specifically work on their behalf and bless our neighborhood. When I had prayed through all of the day’s new posts, I expanded my prayers outward asking Him to use me to make a difference in the city where He has called and placed me.

I’m praying for people I’ve never met, and may never greet. I know whose dog just ran away, who is looking for a new yard service, and who is selling their recently-deceased grandmother’s car. I know who wants a microwave for her daughter to take to college and who posted a warning to keep an eye out for the suspicious silver Cobalt that keeps driving slowly through the neighborhood.

2 cor 4 18

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)

It’s almost as if I am praying backwards. I’m praying for the very specific needs of people I don’t ever see and may never know. They are veritable strangers to me, yet God has burdened my heart with a concern for my community—to live in their midst, care about what they care about, and pray for their publicly posted needs as well as their unspoken struggles.

It’s awakening me to a deeper sense of community among those I live with, and realizing there are people a stone’s throw away with deep hurts and needs: divorces, loss, theft, loneliness, betrayal, and deep personal struggles.

“Prayer should not be regarded as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed, a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty.” – E.M. Bounds

Should I cross paths with these people and strike up a conversation, I’ll have a beautiful new level of understanding and ability to enter into a deeper, richer conversation. One that moves us quickly beyond the weather and “have a good one” niceties where I can boldly enter into a conversation with a depth of care and notice I didn’t have before praying through this app. Turning my heart to care, love, and pray for my neighbor in a 2018 kind of way.

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Rob Hoskins is the president of OneHope. Since taking leadership of OneHope in 2004, he has continued to advance the vision of God’s Word. Every Child. by partnering with local churches to help reach more than 2 BILLION children and youth worldwide with a contextualized presentation of God’s Word.

2 thoughts on “Praying with my eyes open

  1. What a wonderful idea. Our church has had a year of prayer and I have struggled with new ideas of who to pray for. We just moved to a new neighborhood so I would love to start doing this to help get a sense of who is in my neighborhood.

  2. Yes, but in my experience best to interact with neighbors wherever possible. Bring a meal to them or gift certificate when ill or new baby born, organize block party or toy donation drive, take a garden or store bouquet when new neighbors move in, provide actual support when someone is sick with cancer and dying, cut an elderly persons lawn or invite a senior for tea and cake, invite a loner to Christmas dinner, or leave an “I’m praying for you” card when you know someone is lonely or hurting. In otherwords, reach out and touch someone as Christ did in practical ways.

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