August 11, 1999

Texas Baptists urged to 'unleash
God's power'
by praying for five
neighbors five minutes a day

___By Mark Wingfield
___Managing Editor
___GLORIETA, N.M.--It may be one of the simplest concepts ever put forth as an organized initiative in Baptist churches. No intensive training is required. No special materials are necessary. You don't even have to leave home to participate.
___Texas Baptists are joining a nationwide movement that calls Christians to pray five prayartsmminutes a day, five days a week, for five neighbors or co-workers.
___This is a simple, non-threatening ministry that any Christian can participate in, said Alvin Vander Griend, director of Houses of Prayer Everywhere, a cross-denominational ministry based in Grand Rapids, Mich. Vander Griend explained the Houses of Prayer concept during a small-group session at the Glorieta Prayer Conference Aug. 1-5.
___The Baptist General Convention of Texas evangelism division is supporting this nationwide plan for prayer evangelism. Resource materials are available from the Baptist Building in Dallas or from any associational director of missions.
___This simple prayer strategy already has proved effective across the United States, Vander Griend said, explaining that in some cases the act of prayer alone has drawn unbelievers to seek out their Christian neighbors and ask faith questions.
___For example, Johnny Jones, pastor of Walnut Creek Church in Walnut Creek, Calif., committed to pray for his neighbors before introducing his congregation to the Houses of Prayer concept.
___He did not make special visits to his neighbors or even tell them he was praying for them. Yet within a few weeks, a single woman who lives across the street knocked on his door, explaining that she felt led to ask him how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
___That woman prayed to commit her life to Christ. Soon after, her brother, a neighborhood drug dealer, also showed up on his doorstep. He wanted to get out of the drug business but was afraid, he explained. The pastor told the man he had been praying for him and would continue to pray for him and help him in this transition. He also became a believer.
___Within the following weeks, other neighbors also showed up on Jones' doorstep with questions that gave him opportunities to share the love of Christ with them.
___This is an example of the power focused prayer unleashes, Vander Griend said. "When we begin to release God's power and grace on a society, amazing things happen.
___"The fundamental theological principle we're working from is very simple: God chooses to work through the prayers of his people."
___The goal of Houses of Prayer Everywhere is to have a house of prayer on every street in America and an intercessor for every person in America.
___While the concept sounds simple, achieving it will take a renewed commitment on the part of Christians, Vander Griend said. "The average American does not know the name of his three closest neighbors. And most evangelical Christians have not thought a lot about their neighbors."
___Further, he said, "the average Christian in America prays no more than 5 minutes a day, and that's usually for himself, his family and maybe a few of the sick and afflicted."
___Christians must realize that "the neighbors we have are not our neighbors by accident," he asserted. "God has placed us there for a reason."
___At this juncture in American history, non-Christians are extremely open to others praying for them, Vander Griend said. "This is a very new phenomenon. God has opened a door and given us new opportunities."
___This is a natural opening for effective ministry and evangelism, he said, because "prayer releases God's grace and power in the lives of our neighbors."
___Further, Christians who pray for their neighbors in a focused way tend to become more caring toward their neighbors and more likely to share their faith with their neighbors, he said.
___Houses of Prayer Everywhere, also known as Lighthouses of Prayer, suggests an acrostic on the word "bless" as a way to remember five primary things for which to pray concerning your neighbors:
___bluebull Body, including their health, energy and physical needs.
___bluebull Labor, meaning their work, income and security.
___bluebull Emotions, including prayers for joy, peace and hope.
___bluebull Social, meaning their marriage, family and friends.
___bluebull Spiritual, including prayers for salvation, faith and grace.


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