Praying for your block

Bringing “God Bless America” down to the block level

Pray that on Judgment Day, Jesus will say this about you because your neighbors are saying it

My life was empty and you gave me a reason to get up in the morning.

I was worn out and you refreshed me.

I didn't belong and you included me.

I was afraid of being judged and you accepted me.

I was sick and you cared about me.

I couldn't get out, and you came and sat down with me.

(This prayer is a paraphrase of Matthew 25.35-36, "I was hungry and you fed me, etc.")

"My neighbors aren't poor"

Because of real estate costs, our neighbors are usually economic peers, which means they don’t come to mind when we read Matthew 25, “I was hungry, and you fed me, etc.” We apply that to other poorer neighborhoods or countries.

However, if we think of emotional, psychological, and personal needs that parallel the physical ones mentioned in Mt. 25, then we discover that our neighbors are “poor” too. They are living impoverished lives.

Hungry = hungry for life; running on empty

Thirsty = thirsty for refreshment; tired, bored

Stranger = afraid of missing out; lonely

Naked = ashamed; hiding; pretending all is well

Sick = suffering pain or anxiety

Prisoner = addicted; victimized; shut in

 

Once we get that idea, it comes naturally to see that our neighbors are Christ in disguise and in need! We pray for them in a new way.

 

This kind of prayer is especially important as we look at rising national rates of sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, opioid addiction, divorce, teen suicide, etc.—North American problems that should not be epidemics in a country that God is blessing. Statistically, some of those problems have to be right here on our block even if our neighbors have been successfully hiding them. Since we won’t initially know which neighbor is feeling which need, we pray for them all. 

We also put feet to our prayers. The Spirit guides and empowers us to get involved with certain neighbors at any particular time. 

For those feeling empty or bored, we give them purpose, meaning, and an opportunity to contribute

For the worn out, we help them out by sharing their load and being positive

For those who feel like losers or outsiders, we notice them and include them

For those who are hiding, we accept them as they are and give them safety to open up

For those with high pain or anxiety levels, we pray for them and do what we can

For those addicted, victimized, or shut in, we listen, empathize, and come alongside

 

This is not rocket science. It simply adds up to loving our neighbors, using Mt. 25 as a guide and Jesus himself as our motivation. We get to “serve Christ” by serving the neighbors. Then the pain level on our block goes down, and the praise to God gets louder.

Of the six problems in the list, the “stranger” (losers, outsiders) and the “naked” (fear of being judged) are probably the two problems most acutely felt in North America today, so our top priority actions toward neighbors may be to include them in our lives and accept them non-judgmentally. The North American church is colossally failing at both those things. Pray for change!

 

And if those two problems aren’t the biggest ones on your block, listen to God about which other problem(s) to start with. God bless America, one block at a time!