Jesus received a great welcome when he came into Jerusalem. The crowds were shouting “Hosanna” and waving palm branches, but unfortunately, this would not last long. After the triumphal entry, Jesus is met with a religious leader who wants to trap him and ridicule him. The religious leaders cannot match the wisdom and truth of Jesus Christ. The Lord can outwit them at every turn! Yet it is interesting to read what Christ says about these brood of vipers. Matthew records the words of Jesus in 23:37, it reads,
“3Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”
Even though Jesus has just been attacked with a barrage of questioning, he still expresses his love for the people of Jerusalem. He wants to gather these people up like a mother hen gathers her baby chicks. Unfortunately, the people of Jerusalem are not willing. Nevertheless, our Lord still loves these people. Even when he is dying on the cross outside of Jerusalem, he prays, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). I am thankful for the perfect love of Jesus Christ, for it is that perfect love that kept him on the cross for my sins.
We need a heart like Jesus Christ. We need to be willing to love our neighborhoods and communities the way Christ did. Obviously, we are not able to do this within our power. Only the Holy Spirit can produce the love that is needed for our community. The first step is having a heart for the neighborhood.
Praying for your Neighborhood
Since love is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), it would make sense that we connect to the Holy Spirit for the needed passion. The best way to connect to the Spirit of God is through the reading of Scripture, the Christian community, and prayer. I would like to focus on the topic of praying for your neighborhood to gain a heart for your community. Listed below are a few brief ideas for praying for your community.
Prayer walking. Prayer walking is a simple strategy where you walk your community and pause to pray for homes. You may see bicycles and toys in the front yard and may feel prompted to pray for their children in that home. You may see a wheelchair ramp or a memory stone for a deceased spouse and then feel led to pray for the elderly person in that home. Walk with open eyes and an open heart. You will feel the Lord speaking about your neighbors.
Collect neighborhood prayer requests via social media. In the previous chapter, you were encouraged to ask your next-door neighbors how you can pray for them, and I would like to encourage you to do the same. Many neighbors or communities have their own social media pages. Take advantage of these sites by collecting prayer requests.
A simple act like this can go a long way for the Gospel. Often social media is used to voice complaints and negativity. Why not use your neighborhood site as a way to show the love of Jesus by collecting these prayer requests. Also, as you are out and about in your neighborhood, you may engage other people who saw your post, and that may lead to Gospel conversations.
Utilize B.L.E.S.S. Every Home. B.L.E.S.S. every home is a great website that allows you to register your home as a “light.”
When you register your home on the site, you will then be sent daily emails. These daily emails will contain the names of the neighbors that live around you. The email will also suggest how to pray for those particular people on that specific day. Praying for real people that live near you has a powerful impact on you as it will have on them. You can get registered by visiting the B.L.E.S.S. every home site at www.blesseveryhome.com.
Prayer and Evangelism
What is the magic bullet for successful evangelism? I don’t think there is one. There are many methods and tools that can be used to reach your neighborhood for Christ. Yet, if there was one crucial element (that is often neglected) in evangelism, that would be the subject of prayer. E.M. Bounds, in his book Purpose in Prayer, wrote, “No person is a soul winner who is not an adept in the ministry of prayer.” We may not be seeing much evangelistic success because we are not praying as we should.
I have always loved the imagery in Revelation 5:8. The scene depicts the prayers of the saints as being collected in bowls before the Lord. That passage shows me that my prayers are not wasted when I give them to the Lord. Now imagine that there was a bowl in Heaven that was full of your prayers for your community. Now imagine your neighbors in Heaven because they heard the Gospel and believed.
 E. M. Bounds, Purpose in Prayer by E.M. Bounds (T. Rawlings, 2009).