As I’ve been studying various missional practitioners and their ideas, one thing seems to be overlooked from time to time — prayer. It’s not that folks don’t talk about it; they do. However, it is often not a focus. Other things tend to take center stage, such as strategies, stories, and studies of Scripture. All of these things are good, great even!, but prayer can’t be overlooked.
A Prayer Habit
Full disclosure: my wife and I aren’t perfect. Far from it! But from time to time we get a few things right; and I think the particular prayer habit I’m about to describe is one of them.
We recently moved to a new neighborhood and we want to be a witness of the gospel of Jesus and his kingdom in it. In order to do so we quickly realized that we need to get to know our neighbors — both those in our immediate vicinity and those a little further away. To accomplish this my wife had the brilliant idea of taking a walk in our neighborhood each night that we eat dinner at home.
Here’s how it works. We eat dinner, then pray for God to bring whomever he would like across our paths, and then we go out for a walk. Sometimes we bring something with us, like cookies, to give to people. Other times we simply walk around and strike up conversations when it’s appropriate.
God has been faithful to bring someone along our path each time, someone that we have the opportunity to meet and to bless.
Here are a few examples:
On one of our first walks we met a man named Louis who looked rather dejected. When we said that we had cookies for him, he flashed us the biggest smile and gobbled them up happily! A week or two later we were out walking and saw Louis once again. We called him by name, which seemed to make his day, and gave him some more cookies.
Another time we approached a group of eight or so young people. We had been nervous about talking to such a large group, but after praying we both felt compelled by the Spirit to go for it. In so doing we got to meet some really cool people, including one man who has lived in our neighborhood for more than three decades. We’re hoping to get to know him better so that he can help us learn about where we live!
Last night we went on a pretty eventful walk and were almost back home. That’s when one our neighbors in our closest vicinity stopped to chat with us. We made some small talk and then she revealed that she was facing some real drama and pain in her life. This opened a great door for us to engage in some missional listening and to pray for her when we returned home.
And what led to each of these encounters? A simple habit of praying for God to bring whomever he wanted us to bless across our paths.
What sort of missional prayer habits do you find helpful? Let me know in the comments below!