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Praying for Your Neighbors
Everyone should be challenged to pray for their neighbors. C.S. Lewis offers a forceful charge, “Next to the blessed sacrament, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”
The Scripture makes it clear – God has ordered our boundaries. He moved the family in next door to us (Acts 17:26). He parked the pagan at the desk next to us. Why? He wants those people exposed to the salt and light He has placed in our lives. We, on the other hand, are constantly on a mission to escape the darkness, to fellowship with nice Christians, to avoid profanity and cigar smoke, to surround ourselves with pleasant and polite people.
God is on a different mission. He wants to press us up against the corruption around us and plunge us, as light, into the darkness. He has more confidence in the power He has placed within us than do we. We often see ourselves as besieged Christians in a culture increasingly hostile to Biblical faith. God sees us as His missionary force. We are looking for a Christian haven. He is looking for a Christian to park at some gate to hell. His ways are not our ways. The process can be started in a simple way. The essence of prayer evangelism is a commitment to first pray and then, to be “a light” to the lost people around us, to be intentional with regard to the lost in these ways:
  • Identify at least five people who are not Christians. This may require some relational work, since the average American knows fewer than three neighbors. (Check out this website to find the names of your neighbors: http://www.pray4everyhome.org)
  • Make a list of these people and place the list in a place where you will see it regularly – the sun visor on your car, your computer screen, the bathroom mirror, the flyleaf of your Bible. Your prayer for them fulfills the ‘Great Commitment.’
  • Pray for them at least five minutes a day for five days a week.
  • Ask God to help you find ways to care for them (the Great Commandment).
  • Respond to the open doors God gives you to share Christ with them (the Great Commission).
The prayer that is prayed for these people is one of blessing. Use the word bless as an acronym for prayer:
  • Body – pray for things physical, housing, health, healing, and so forth.
  • Labor – pray for work needs, job issues, employment-related concerns.
  • Emotional – pray for peace of mind, fulfillment, joy, happiness.
  • Social – pray for relationships, family needs, children, marriages.
  • Spiritual – pray for their salvation, for them to come to know Christ, an awakening for them as a family, as individuals, for their hearts and their home to be open to Christ.
P. Douglas Small is founder and president of Alive Ministries: PROJECT PRAY and he serves in conjunction with a number of other organizations. He is also the creator of the Praying Church Movement and the Prayer Trainer’s Network. However, all views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization.
This blog is an excerpt from the Revised Edition of Transforming Your Church Into a House of Prayer. This book echoes something we are all hearing: God is changing more than our circumstances. God is calling us to change. The Reformation is still on. God is still changing His church.
PROJECT PRAY | PO Box 1245, Kannapolis, NC 28082

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Four Prayer Streams
We have been discussing the importance of a disciplined personal prayer life. Yet, there are four prayer streams in the life of the people of God that are critical.
The congregation gathered in and for prayer. Not preaching. Not teaching or training, but in prayer.
Smaller prayer groups. Not the entire congregation gathered, but slices of church life gathered for prayer. For example, at the heart of every ministry and group in the congregation, there should be a developing prayer culture. To isolate prayer by framing it as 'prayer ministry' and placing it there; having youth and children, men and women, singles and seniors, a dozen other ministries here, all undergirded by the prayer ministry there - is fatal error. To assign prayer to a few, even a significant but detached team is to attempt to use prayer as a kind of engine for church ministries, and yet, separate from them. That makes prayer pragmatic, utilitarian, and that is a flawed equation. Every ministry, to be New Testament, is to be humbly dependent on God in prayer. At their heart, must be a culture of God's Presence, of holiness and humility and that necessitates prayer. The goal is to press prayer into the seams of congregational life. If church activities and ministries are to be animated by the breath of God, they must be praying ministries - the Spirit is breath and prayer is breathing.
The family altar. Currently, only 5 to 8 percent of Christian homes have anything resembling a family altar. That must change. If prayer is foreign to daily life, we declare to ourselves and our children, that we have learned to live without family gatherings in which God is at the center of our lives and activities, our daily relationships, in a formal and openly affirming manner. God must not be ignored. Our children, having learned from us to live without engaging God in an intentional manner six days a week, soon forego the seventh - not continuing church attendance as adults. Tozer bluntly declared, "If you will not worship God seven days a week, you do not worship Him on one day a week."[1]
Personal prayer. Daily prayer. Relentless praying. John and Charles Wesley, when traveling together, had the habit of rising early to spend time with God, and then meeting together, often for an hour or more, before they began their day. Spurgeon would rise early for personal prayer, and then gather his family for prayer before they met the day.
Without personal prayer, without family altars, without small groups in which we are all active in prayer, the corporate prayer gathering lacks the roots that cause it to flourish. Yet, without the corporate prayer meeting, that models prayer, that offers teaching prayer experiences that become templates for personal, family and small group praying, the other corollary elements don't develop. Each feeds the other, and none can replace another. They are interdependent. The most conspicuous of the four is the corporate prayer meeting, the congregation gathered for prayer. Without these, church is a ceremony, not a celebration of lives lived out God's Presence.
Welsh pastor, Geoffrey Thomas, asserted, "There is no way that those who neglect secret worship can know communion with God in the public services of the Lord's Day!"[2] D. A. Carson notes, "The person who prays more in public reveals that he is less interested in God's approval than in human praise. Not piety but a reputation for piety is his concern."[3]

We are not to go to church to worship, but to go worshipping - out of a life of worship. The form of corporate worship feeds the informal - confession, praise, offering, preaching, prayer, the reading of the Scriptures, repenting, professing, singing, sharing, the bread and the cup, baptism, the blessing. All these feed the personal, informal daily prayer times; and they in turn, feed the public.
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This blog is part of The Praying Church Handbook - Volume III - Pastor and the Congregation which can be purchased at alivepublications.org>
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[1] Tozer.
[2] Geoffrey Thomas, "Worship in Spirit," The Banner of Truth, August-September, 1987, p. 8.
[3] D. A. Carson, Matthew, Expositor's Bible Commentary, 12 volumes (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 8:165.

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As discussed last week, the 10/40 window is a section of globe that reaches from ten to forty degrees latitude north of the equator, and west-to-east from North Africa and Southern Europe through the Middle East, India and China. It is home to most of the world's unreached peoples.

During October 1993, the 62 nations of the 10/40 Window became the focus of a 30-day prayer campaign - "Praying Through the Window." The Christian Information Network[1]hoped to enlist one million intercessors to pray, a daunting goal. They were overwhelmed by the response - 21 million people prayed through this dark window. Many prayed from a distance, while others traveled into the window to pray on site. Some 188 prayer journey teams took 257 journeys visiting sixty-one of the sixty-two nations. They prayed in front of mosques, Hindu Shrines, and Buddhist temples. They walked the streets and prayed. They watched people and prayed. They did not go to preach - simply to quietly pray.[2] Is there power in prayer alone?

Stories began to flow in of dramatic conversions, dreams and the like, the salvation of resistant and hard-hearted individuals. Missionaries noted a marked increase in openness to the gospel. Those who prayed and went on such journeys came home with a profound awareness, not only of the need for, but also the presence of God's love for these people. A taste of promise through prayer created an anticipation driven by faith, that what they had just participated in was only the beginning of something dramatic and world changing.

Two years later, "Praying Through the Window II" was conducted. This time the prayer focus was 100 Gateway Cities in the 10/40 Window. An astounding 36 million joined the prayer effort. It was estimated that 10,000 prayer journeyers went into the gateway cities to pray on site.[3]

In another two years, "Praying Through the Window III" took place. The focus of that prayer effort was the 1,739 significant unreached people groups of the 10/40 Window. Even more people joined this prayer effort. An estimated 50 million believers prayed together for these unreached people groups.[4] Thousands took prayer journeys to walk and pray among these unreached peoples.

Praying with Your Children
In honor of Mother's Day, this blog post reflects on the importance of not just praying for your children, but with your children as well. Parents who love the Lord openly create an infectious environment. Kids 'catch' the faith. Intentional teaching is essential, but it is the incidental inculcation of values that is even more powerful. How we live and spontaneously respond to the challenges of life should reflect deeply held values - if not, our intentional efforts will fall flat.

It is the faith flavor of the home that is so radically transforming. Dutiful devotional times can never replace personal passion for the Lord. If "the words" are in our hearts, they will naturally flow into our conversations, while sitting in the house and talking. It isn't what we try to do - it is what we most naturally do! This natural bubbling up of our love for the Lord will spill out onto every aspect of family life in a way that is natural and not contrived. We'll offer spontaneous and worshipful thanks. When we sit by a child with a fevered brow, we will pray.

Ideas for Praying with Your Children
  1. Pray at every meal - make thanksgiving a habit. And let the children pray.
  2. During the course of your meal, ask your kids about their day - What happened in your world? Use their anxieties as cues for prayer.
  3. Pray at bedtime. Include a bed-time Bible story. That daily habit is a powerful and comforting closure to the day.
  4. If you drive your children to school, you have a great opportunity to plug into the "hurry-up" of the morning, a restful prayer. Before they get out of the car, pray for them. Bless them. Ask for God to be with them. Someone has said that Christian parents exhort their children to "be good!" - as if they expected mischief. Jewish parents exhort their children to "do something great today!" - as if they expected not only positive behavior, but excelling conduct.
  5. Take each of your children out, once a week for a private time with Dad or Mom. Make prayer a part of that time. Do it casually, naturally. Lace the presence of God into daily life, as if it were not a Sunday thing! It isn't, you know. Read a scripture together. Give a Psalm as a gift to your child - read it over them. Give them other promises from the Bible.
  6. Table devotions. Once a week or so, do more than saying grace at the table, do a round of prayer with each family member praying sentence prayers.
  7. Make a family prayer list. Pray over the needs on the list - at least weekly. Do some type of weekly family prayer and worship event. It does not have to be long - 15-30 minutes will do, especially with smaller children whose attention spans are short. Do it consistently. Read Scripture. Pray. Bless the children. Review your family prayer list. Pray for unsaved family members, neighbors and friends.
  8. Keep a family prayer log. Howard Hendricks of Dallas Theological Seminary says years ago, his wife created a family prayer journal. On one side was listed - "We Asked!" On the other side - "He Answered!" Hendricks said, "I would not substitute anything for what this notebook did to teach my children the theology of prayer." This brings reality to prayer. It makes it about real things. It chronicles the family's spiritual journey. What a legacy!1
  9. During the holidays, open the Christmas cards at dinner when the family is together. Pray over the loved ones who sent the cards before they are hung on the mantle.
  10. Create a "sacred space" in your home where you meet for prayer - a family altar. Set aside a room for a chapel, if you have the space. If not, designate a place where the family meets God. Put out visible reminders of the sacredness of the space - a Bible, pictures on the wall, study helps, a globe or map to remind you of missions, the family prayer list, anointing oil.
Nothing should be out of bounds for prayer. As a good rabbi would say, "There is a prayer for everything!" Praying simple, spontaneous prayers, making them as natural as breathing, laces God into the ordinary. It will become a habit of the child when they are aged. "My mother always prayed this simple prayer when she covered some cut with a band aid." Such simple, profound moments stay with you for life!
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1 Howard Hendricks, Vinelife. (Quoted by Vander Griend, 67)..

P. Douglas Small is founder and president of Alive Ministries: PROJECT PRAY and he serves in conjunction with a number of other organizations. He is also the creator of the Praying Church Movement and the Prayer Trainer's Network. However, all views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization.

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A Church Revived Through a Missional Focus
A 300 year old church in Massachusetts faced a major challenge. Its 'young people' were in their '60's. Their annual budget was $15,000. Most neighbors who passed the drab building with a drive-in congregation thought the church was closed. The neighborhood was now an Italian and Jewish enclave unlike the congregation of forty people with no Jews and one Italian. The church had no bridge to the community and no presence in its neighborhood. It was seen as having no value by the community, despite its rich heritage. It was on the verge of death.

A new pastor spruced up the church - a sign of life to the neighbors. Then he surveyed community needs attempting to determine a pathway for the church to serve the city. Of all the community needs, the one that seemed to fit what they could offer was a day-care for single, working moms. The goal was not a money-making enterprise, but a ministry, targeted to the children of the poor. The center opened with one teacher and two students. In a year, they were caring for thirty-seven children, and twenty-four of those were on government subsidies. Three children were assigned to the day-care by the courts, having been abused or neglected. By the end of the first year, the day-care budget was larger than that of the church. The staff was Christian, but all the kids came from non-Christian homes. Daily, they sang hymns and choruses. They heard Bible stories. They were taught moral principles, wrapped with love and grace. There was music, art, cooking, and medical services. It was 'total' child care, with parental interaction as well.

Day-care is not the most reasonable route to church growth, the pastor acknowledged, but it was the route God used to reconnect them to a missional purpose and begin to reconcile lost people to Christ.
 The pastor recalled, "One mother came into my office, and the first thing she said to me was, 'Tell me more about Jesus. My daughter has never been the same since she started coming to your day-care center.' That woman and her daughter are now in church every Sunday." According to the pastor, "Nine Jews have become members of the church. One of them was formerly the director of the Jewish Community Center, and her daughter works for the day-care center."

One thing is clear, the community no longer thinks the church is closed, and they have found other ways to serve their city.
 There is a food pantry and care for homeless street people. They have a weekly television show run by members. They teach English to city-residents. They were given a nine-room, six bedroom house to use as a refugee center. Hundreds have been served through that ministry.

A Cambodian church has now been launched. To reach youth, they opened a coffeehouse, and now the median age in the church has gone from the '60's to the '30's'. Home Bible studies, evangelistic in nature, have also served as a bridge. Some forty-five percent of new members came through the Bible Study door. They woke up the sleeping missional dimension in their congregational life,[1] and a dying church was revived. Revivals that focus on the renewal of its members are not revivals at all. Revivals must have a missional dimension. They must resurrect a collective burden for the lost. With a fresh missional consciousness, the congregation asked, "What can we do together to touch this city?" It must re-center members, not in a new experiential spectrum, but in the middle of compassionate ministry.

If your church closed its doors today, would anyone but its own members notice? Would the community be saddened because such a great community transformation partner was gone?
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  • This blog is an excerpt from The Praying Church Handbook - Volume III - Pastor and the Congregation. Purchase the newly released The Praying Church Handbook - Volume IV - Intercessory Prayer and Mission and receive Volume III for FREEPurchase today> 
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[1]       Robert Greenway and Timothy Monsma, 112-113.

P. Douglas Small is founder and president of Alive Ministries: PROJECT PRAY and he serves in conjunction with a number of other organizations. He is also the creator of the Praying Church Movement and the Prayer Trainer's Network. However, all views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization.

     
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Alive Ministries: Project Pray, PO Box 1245, Kannapolis, NC 28082

Does Your Church Need a PIT Crew?
In Nascar country, every driver requires a pit crew. No race can be won without such a support team. They refuel the car, change the tires, make necessary repairs and get the car back on the track as quickly as possible. Aaron and Hur lifted up the hands of Moses when he was weary.
A PIT crew for your church stands for personal intercessory team. Intercession can be a heavy and lonely work. Everyone needs a refueling, renewing team. Teaming allows burdens to be shared, impressions to be compared and agreement in prayer to become the common feature of the intercessors work.
Consider arranging intercessors into teams of three to five people. The teams don't necessarily meet together for prayer, but the team leader does connect with each member of the PIT crew at least monthly for updates and reports. A PIT crew may be assigned for each ministry leader and ministry.
Here is how such a team might function. Following the Moravian principle, "No one works unless someone prays!" Every worker would be encouraged to recruit a primary intercessor. Example: Amelia, a member of 'PIT Crew #1,' has agreed to intercede for April, a Sunday school teacher of juniors. She is the primary intercessor, but every member of 'PIT Crew #1' also adopts April for prayer. Each one of the members also has a primary prayer focus, perhaps more than one. But they each serve to back-up their PIT partners.

In addition to people in the church who need an intercessory team, encourage your teams to adopt people outside the church for prayer: a political leader, a public school teacher or administrator, a policeman or fireman, a doctor or dentist, a nurse or health care provider, a missionary, a nation, an unreached people group, a local gang, notorious and famous unsaved people, a church plant, new families, new Christians, new pastors in the community, a nearby church and the list goes on.

Be careful not to over-commit to prayer. Intercessors do burn out. Formalize your prayer list - with the primary intercessor and his people/projects identified. Then make each intercessor's list available to the entire team. Make a commitment - to pray weekly, as a minimum. PIT crew leaders should have regular contact with the intercessory leader of the church. Reports should flow back-and-forth between intercessors and the individuals for whom they are praying.

PIT crews are an important part of your intercession ministry.
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God Answers Prayer
From Genesis to Revelation, the God of the Bible answers prayer. And that is quite extraordinary - an accessible God, a caring God, an action God, a responsive and loving God. Survey the religions of the world and you find this God to be utterly unique. But answers to prayer are not a panacea. God received Abel's worshipful sacrifice and to him God was favorable. In that sense, He answered Abel's prayer, but Cain, his brother, refused to meet the conditions of the altar. He insisted on coming to God in his own way and God did not receive Cain's sacrifice. He could not retaliate against God, so being full of rage; he murdered Abel (Genesis 4:8). God answered Elijah's prayer and the fire fell on Mt. Carmel. When Ahab went home from church that morning and told his wife Jezebel what had happened, she put a price on Elijah's head and issued an all-points bulletin for his arrest. Elijah's prayer was answered, but his life endangered in the same movement (1 Kings 19:1-3). An angel came to strengthen Jesus as He prayed in the garden, but He was still headed for the cross (Luke 22:43).

We tend to see prayer as an exit route from trouble, as an escape. At times, God does open a Red Sea (Exodus 14:21), cool a furnace (Daniel 3:25), shut the mouths of lions (Daniel 6:20-22), heal the bite of a viper (Acts 28:3-6) and raise the dead (Acts 20:8-10). But prayer is more than mere magic. Sometimes prayer is the fountain from which miracles seem to flow. But mostly, it is the mysterious means by which we are allowed to be partners with God in ways we will not completely understand until we arrive on heaven's shores.
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P. Douglas Small is founder and president of Alive Ministries: PROJECT PRAY and he serves in conjunction with a number of other organizations. He is also the creator of the Praying Church Movement and the Prayer Trainer's Network. However, all views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization.

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