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How Should We Pray For Neighbors?
Jesus taught us a simple yet profound way to pray—we call it the Lord’s Prayer. Included in it is the petition: “May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” God’s kingdom is all-encompassing, bringing healing and restoration to every aspect of life. We long for the day when it will come in its fullness. Meanwhile, we can intercede on behalf of our neighborhood asking that God’s kingdom values would have a pervasive influence. A Kingdom-minded prayer might be one that prays for: people to come back to a love relationship with God—their King, their Creator, their Father, healthy family relationships, physical healing, freedom from guilt, depression, & anxiety, peace in the neighborhood & in homes, and a breakdown of spiritual strongholds.
The early church-planter, Paul, urged the church to devote themselves to prayer. Prayers were to be characterized by (1) asking God to open doors for the Gospel’s impact on people who were not yet followers of Christ, (2) that us Christ-followers would make the most of every opportunity we have when interacting with our neighbors, and (3) that we would be gracious with our words in every conversation and always ready to speak on God’s behalf.
Perhaps this prayer based on Ephesians 3:14-21 would help give shape to your prayers for your neighbors and others close to you:
“God, I bow my knees before you, my Father, the One from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. You are the God who created me and my neighbors. I pray in accordance with your glory that your Spirit would be powerfully at work in our homes—even among those who don’t yet follow you. May Christ take up residence in our hearts. And may my neighbors and I know the full extent of your love for us. Father, I pray that my neighbors would know you like I know you, grasping how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, a love which surpasses all knowledge and is given freely. May my neighbors and I be filled with the fullness of God—experiencing your presence in a real way. To you be all glory, God—for it is your power that is at work within me and my neighborhood, accomplishing abundantly far more than I could ask or imagine. Use me for your purposes, God, and receive all glory forever and ever. Amen.”
BLESS: A Helpful Acronym
The word BLESS can remind us of five important ways to pray for our neighbors:
Body - Pray for their health, protection, and strength.
Labor - Pray that God would bless their work and provide for their income needs.
Emotional - Pray that God would give them true joy, peace, and comfort.
Social - Pray that they would have healthy relationships—with their spouse, children, and friends—or that God would provide them with true friends.
Spiritual - Pray for their salvation, that they would come to faith in Christ and overcome spiritual strongholds.
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