I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me, freeing me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4 (NLT)
One Sunday afternoon, while my family and I were getting ready to sit down for dinner, I heard my husband yell, "Call 911, call 911!" Since my husband rarely raises his voice, we all ran to see what was wrong. He was looking out our front door watching two men fist fight across the street. One man was on top of the other hitting him in the face. It was a bloody sight. We thought he was going to kill him.
I called 911 and told them what was going on and asked them to quickly send the police. Our whole house was in chaos and emotions were high! The 911 lady I was speaking to must have thought I was frantic. However, she remained calm.
The men stopped fighting after they saw they had an audience. The police finally came and we shut our door. The drama appeared to be over outside, but the drama inside our home was continuing. "I want out of this neighborhood!", I said. I let everyone know I wasn't happy about this situation. Grown men fighting in front of our house made us all upset and angry. "Yeah, let's move!" was the responses of my kids and husband.
My husband, son and daughter went to the store to buy a newspaper so that we could find houses for sale in our area. I went to the computer and was looking at real estate over the Internet. The next morning, my kids and I went driving around searching for our new home. We were serious about moving!
After returning from our house hunting trip, we sat down to have our devotional time. The devotion was talking about how our homes belong to God and He wants us to pray for our neighbors. My daughter and I could not believe what we were reading. It spoke to both of us about how our neighbors need our prayers.
The next morning I was going to the weekly women's Bible study at our church. As the speaker was speaking I realized God was using her, as He often does, to show me what's in my heart. She first started talking about how the word "fear not" are mentioned in the Bible 365 times. One for each day of the year. God must be serious about it if He mentions it that many times. Fear is our natural response to danger. It can become a spiritual sickness and cripple us if we hold on to it. We become afraid when we think of things that might happen someday. Fear is contagious. This is true because I saw it come to life in my children after they saw I was afraid.
Fear doesn't go away by itself, we need to take it to God. He was telling me to be a confident and courageous woman. He wanted me to stop running from my fear and run to Him. Running to God means I am putting my trust in Him. He has taught me that courage is the decision we make not to run when fear comes. I needed to have my focus on Him and not the fear I was feeling.
As I pondered these things, I decided that I would not run, but I would pray for my neighbors instead. I told my husband and children everything the Lord taught me that morning. They were amazed as to how clearly God speaks to us. Yes, we may move one day, but it won't be because of fear, it will be because the Lord is moving us.
I wanted to start praying for my neighbors right away, but since I don't know that many of them it made it hard to know exactly how to pray. I began by thanking God for our neighborhood and asking God for the opportunity to meet my neighbors. I also started praying the five blessing prayer plan that I found at the end of our devotional. You choose five neighbors and pray a blessing for them for five minutes a day. You pray it each day for five weeks. In this prayer plan, each area of blessing begins with a letter from the word "bless":
B (body) - blessing on a neighbor's physical body, including health, strength, protection and safety.
L (labor) - blessing on a neighbor's work, income or security, or, if a child, on his or her studies.
E (emotional) - blessings on a neighbor's well being, especially that he or she can trust God, be free from worry and fear, and experience joy, peace and hope.
S (social) - blessings on relationships, such as those between husband and wife, parents and kids.
S (spiritual) - blessings on a neighbor for salvation, faith and grace.
(If you'd like more information on the 5x5x5 plan you can call 1-800-217-5200 to order the Make Your House a Power House booklet, the Five Blessings Brochure, or the Personal Lighthouse Kit, which includes a video.)
(When Families Pray by Cheri Fuller, page 46)
I decided I would start praying for my neighbors the next day. The Lord confirmed to me that this is what He wanted me to do because after I prayed that first morning, I was walking downstairs from my bedroom at 7:30 a.m. and I saw my neighbor, Lynn, at my front door. She had just moved here and it was the first time I met her. She asked if she could use our phone because she locked herself out of her house and she needed to call her daughter at work to come and let her in. I not only got to meet Lynn that day, but also her daughter. I was blown away about this. God had answered my prayer about meeting my neighbors before I even started my day! That encouraged me to continue to pray and then watch to see where God is working in my neighborhood.
I have shared this story with others and now they too are praying for their neighborhoods. God wants us to pray for those around us, especially those who do not know Him yet. How does the Lord want you to pray for your neighbors? Write down their names and begin to pray for them on a regular basis. Not only will your neighbors receive God's blessings, but so will you as you see God answer your prayers!
My house shall be called a house of prayer. Matthew 21:13 (NASB)
Lord, thank You for the privlege of praying for others. Open my eyes to see You at work around me. Give me a burden for those that don't know you and a compassionate heart toward them. Let my home be a house of prayer. Help me not to run when fear grips me, but to run to You with it. Help me to trust in You. In Jesus' name. Amen.
April 9, 2008