Having decided that our next step is to develop a prayer strategy for our community, we've set out a table of streets, grouped by location from our map. We have just over 150 streets in our community and we want to pray for each one of them. It's not that difficult to work out the logistics and a bit of trial and error goes a long way too. But what underpins the principles and ideas? Well I've been reflecting on Luke 10 as I think about this and here's what I've explored so far.
1. Not alone
It's not a solitary mission, but a shared mission. Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs. That's not rocket science, but it is a reminder that taking a partner with you is strategic.
2. No empires
He instructed them to pray for others to join in. This is not about building an empire but sharing a mission. It's not a case of the workers are few so I'll go it alone, but rather the workers are few, let's pray for more workers to join the party.
3. Go vulnerable
Jesus said to go without spare shoes and luggage. When we go it's not about what we can give to the community out of our abundance. Perhaps that's because it forces us to be dependent upon God already being at work. When we turn up with a ready-made solution what room is there for God to do something extraordinary?
4. Always bless
The prayer strategy that we are going to use is simply to pray God's blessing down every street. We're not "treasure hunting" or seeking to drive out darkness. We just want to ask God to bless the people amongst whom we live. There is a time and place to confront darkness and challenge evil, but let's start by blessing people. That seems logical and valid to me.
5. Don't agonise over the response
If a place is not a place of peace then so be it. We're not going to judge, just to bless. whichever way it goes, the kingdom is here whether people notice it or not. I have this intermittent privilege of serving families at a time of loss. That now includes doing the occasional non-religious funeral. I've blogged about that elsewhere. I'd hope that all the funerals are non-religious in a way because religious usually means rites and rituals without any real depth of faith. On the other hand all the funerals I lead are strongly rooted in a Christian faith perspective even when God is not mentioned and prayers are not said. Why? Because I'm there and I pray. Not at the funeral, but at home, in the car, at the crematorium, just not in the service or with the mourners. I don't agonise over the lost opportunity to share the gospel or missing element of fait, I just do what I can and leave the rest in God's hands.
6. Be prepared to be amazed!
God does some extraordinary things. He has the habit of showing up when we least expect him to and doing something equally unexpected.
So, how complicated is it to walk down your street and ask God to bless the homes and businesses in it? Are you afraid you might bless someone who doesn't deserve it or who might be doing something that doesn't honour God? How righteous do your neighbours need to be before they are worthy of your prayer of blessing? I'm sure that somewhere in our community someone is probably making illicit adult films, planning crimes, taking drugs or evading tax. IT seems to me that praying for them is the very thing I ought to do.
Here's one last crazy idea. In our village we have a Kingdom Hall. What might God do if I pray a blessing on that place!