December 16, 2011

By now I trust you have already heard that we are going to emphasize the SERVICE part of our annual new year’s prayer service this year. We will meet on Sunday Jan. 1 at 10 am for a brief service before going out in groups to pray for every home in a few nearby neighborhoods. This is one practical way live out our church’s vision with emphasis on our desire to be a witnessing church with “enhanced engagement” into our community. We are hoping everyone can be involved together (“multi-generational reach”). We understand that this is new, different, and maybe even risky for some (“transformation & risk”). But we hope that in interceding together to pray in support of God’s clear will that “none should perish,” we might be strengthened even more as a community and changed personally (“connecting heads to hearts”). 

You may be wondering about some of the details. Since this is our first time trying such a project, there are a few things we just have to be open for God to surprise us. We are planning to equip the body as well as we can, learning from other churches who have ministered in similar ways.

So how exactly is this going to work? What are we going to pray? And how are we going to pray? All good questions.
We will assign a street or group of homes to groups of 3-5 people or a family.  The group will then walk their area stopping at each home to pray from the sidewalk, hang a door hanger (provided there is no solicitations prohibited message), and then quietly move onto the next home to repeat the process. We are estimating between 2 to 3 minutes at each home. That’s ~50 homes in an hour per group. Very do-able both on New Year’s day in neighborhoods near the church, and throughout the year in your own neighborhood. 

We are going to provide everyone a card with a few sample prayers from Scripture and a few other resources for you to use if you wish. The back side of the card will list a few helpful hints to keep in mind; some basic to-do’s and not to-do’s with Scriptural guidance. Specifically, when praying for others publicly:

BE HUMBLE (Mt. 6:1-2)
The point of this prayer SERVICE is to love and serve our neighbors with intercession of God’s blessing. This is not an exercise in self-righteousness.
“Be careful of practicing your righteousness before other people…”

BE DISCRETE (Mt. 6:5-6)
There is no need to draw attention to yourself. In fact Jesus warns against such things. Respect privacy with quiet. Respect property by staying on sidewalks and walkways. We may be walking the street, but we don’t have to draw attention for street-corner prayers.
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others.”

Empty words come from empty hearts. Feel free to use the sample prayers provided. They can engage your heart. Or allow them to jump start other prayers with your words from your heart. Pray the Lord’s Prayer for the home. Let what you notice in the yard, driveway, and home decor to guide your prayer for kids, work, health, etc.
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases..for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Have confidence, the Spirit helps us – especially when we are weak and dependent. We may not know the situation or spiritual receptivity within the home. But God does. And the Spirit knows how to use our words as well.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

BE HOPEFUL (2Pet. 3:9)
God created ALL men and women in His image, and He cares about redeeming that image. Our task is not necessarily or primarily requesting judgment and wrath upon anyone. God needs room to do what He is much better suited to do. Instead, remember God desires that all would come to, and grow in a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord.
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

BE GRACIOUS (1Pet. 3:14-16)
But what if…the residents come asking questions? Or worse yet, what if they come out after us with anger? Remember, a gentle answer turns away wrath. We aren’t in the neighborhood to create or make worse problems. When they ask why we are doing this, be gracious in your brief explanation of God’s love and your desire to share that.
“…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…”

Earlier this fall our daughter church, Lake Cities Community, participated in an effort of a collection of churches to pray for every house in Rowlett—and they were greatly blessed. Malcolm McGregor – the chair of their “Sharing Team” – helped organize LCC’s efforts and will be at TFC this Sunday to provide a brief update of both the church’s and his personal experience.

Cataylst Rowlett – the organizing group for “Cover Rowlett” – put together a series of light-hearted youtube videos to show how NOT to, and how to pray for homes. You can check them out below.

Grace and peace,

Keith Hileman
Interim Pastor
Trinity Fellowship Church