42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer… 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:42, 46–47)
Our 2019-20 Ministry Year Theme is “Everyday Blessings.” This year, we hope to take inspiration from the example of the early followers of Jesus, following the helpful acronym, BLESS. Each month, our newsletter will look at different letter of this acronym to see how it might help guide our life together in the 21st century.
B – Begin with prayer. L – Listen. E – Eat. S – Serve. S – Share.
This month’s focus is: B - Begin with prayer. 46 They devoted themselves… to prayer. Do you pray for your neighbors? The last few months have seen many Bible studies and sermons on prayer, but we too seldom talk about the important task of praying for others.
Praying for our neighbors is not normal. But few things are a better expression of the selfless love and concern which Christians are encouraged to demonstrate.
It’s unusual, because praying for your neighbors—for their wellbeing, security, goodfortune, or happiness—doesn’t get you anything. In fact, the happiness and success of our neighbors is often a source of anxiety in modern American culture! How many times have you looked longingly across the fence at a neighbor’s new car, or their new deck, or their new roof? The desire to “Keep up with the Joneses” truly can make your neighbors’ success and happiness into a bitter thing.
But how would things be different if you regularly prayed for your neighbor? While prayer may not completely eliminate all jealousy, that neighbor’s new car could become instead an answer to prayer. Your neighbor’s happiness then is a reason to celebrate with them, not envy them.
Prayer connects us with our neighbors. It tunes us into their needs and desires, as we learn those needs and desires and lift them up in prayer. It helps us become more aware of who they are. This makes us into better neighbors. It makes us better friends.
This month, I’m challenging myself to pray regularly for my neighbors—and not just for the people who live next to me. I’ll pray for coworkers, the family which sits next to mine in the restaurant, and for friends. I challenge you and your family to do the same. Let’s invigorate our prayer life by praying for others. And let’s ask God to bless our relationships with those people as well. Maybe, just maybe, people will say of us, “They devote themselves to prayer.”
God’s Peace, Pastor Josh Reifsteck