Prayer Calendar: Neighbour-Nudging Prayer

Dave is the EFCC's Prayer and Spiritual Life Catalyst

It was neither an innocent nor a sincere question, but self-serving, self-justifying. Jesus had answered his first question, which sought the path to eternal life, with “Love God and your neighbour.” Then the law expert blurted out this second question, “Who is my neighbour?” Not a bad question, really.

Jesus responds in Luke 10 by telling a story. We call it the parable of the Good Samaritan. Neighbours are people who are in need of our compassion and God’s mercy, but the parable shifts the focus from identifying neighbours to being neighbours.

It is one thing to identify who our neighbours are. It’s quite another thing to be a neighbour to them.

If we are going to become more and more a gospel-sharing people, we need to be more intentionally in the lives of our neighbours. I’ve been on a “neighbour-nudging” journey for over a year now. Here’s what I’ve learned.

I’ve learned to intentionally ask God to identify my neighbours to me. That has been an unpredictable journey! I have neighbours now in Boston, Moose Jaw and Kelowna. They are family, but I have started seeing them as neighbours in need. Surprisingly, through unexpected circumstances, I now have neighbours in Turkey, Australia and Toronto. We interact through email and Face Book. And I have neighbours here in my home town of Lethbridge, people that I see regularly moving in and out of their lives.

Not everyone in my life is a neighbour, but these are the ones God has singled out by laying them on my heart with a burden to see them become followers of Jesus Christ and continue deeper into that journey.

I’ve learned to intentionally ask God to show me how to be a neighbor to them. First and foremost, God has taught me to pray for them. This is neighbour-nudging prayer. I ask God to bless them, to reveal himself to them, to be active in their lives in such a way that they recognize him. I nudge them towards Jesus. Prayer paves the way for the gospel. By the way, they know I pray for them.

Next I look for ways to love them. I live the gospel before them. Here at home my wife and I run errands for the couple who are confined to their house. Last week we had a “neighbour” couple over for dinner and a chat. We find ways to be present in their lives.

Then, I look for ways to speak the gospel. Sometimes that is long in coming and other times it’s there before I know it. A couple of weeks ago I sent an email to one of my distant “neighbors” answering some questions about faith and telling the story of Jesus.