On Prayer Walking: some practical guidance

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This past weekend, as I concluded our series on neighboring at Eastbrook, one of the application points was for us to prayer walk our neighborhoods. I realized that for some of us this may be a new concept. I was first introduced to this when I was a new disciple of Christ in high school. I came across this helpful article by Shelley Stott on prayer walking, “Prayer Walking: A Way to Pray Specifically for Our Neighborhoods.” Here is Stott’s definition of prayer walking:

Prayer walking is exactly what the words imply: walking and praying. Prayer walking has been described as “praying on site with insight.” When you hear the sounds and see the sights of a particular place, you understand better how to pray for the people in that location.

Near the end of the article, she offers some very practical advice for prayer walking:

Five Things to Remember When Prayer Walking

  1. Be alert.
    If you prayer walk with a partner, don’t get distracted by conversation with each other. It’s helpful to agree ahead of time that you will keep conversation to a minimum to keep the focus on prayer. You might want to meet beforehand or gather to debrief after your walk, but the time you set aside for prayer walking should be focused on just that.
  2. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
    Just as your five senses gather information from your surroundings, remember to keep your heart open to what the Holy Spirit is telling you as well. Perhaps you feel impressed to stop and talk to someone or to go down a new street. Listen to and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit as you go.
  3. Be ready.
    You may encounter someone who needs prayer or is willing to engage in a spiritual conversation with you. Be ready to interact with those around you. Ask your pastor about evangelism training if you haven’t been trained already. Be willing to ask people if you can pray for them. Find out what is heavy on their heart and be ready to listen and pray. If people are not open to letting you pray right there—or if you’re not in an environment where you can openly pray because of government restrictions or persecution—you can still assure them that you will pray for them later.
  4. Be a doer.
    You can’t really learn to prayer walk unless you just do it. Even if you feel apprehensive or you don’t feel that you can wrap your mind around it, go ahead and try it. As your team debriefs, you may learn better ways to prayer walk that you can implement in your next walk. As a team, you can begin marking a map so you can see the areas you have prayer walked. But don’t stop at marking maps. Put your shoes on and put yourself in the neighborhoods.
  5. Be on the lookout for God at work.
    Make your prayer walk an opportunity for thanking the Lord. Be assured that you didn’t beat God into the neighborhood. He has been there working long before you arrived. What an awesome privilege we have to join God as he draws people to himself.

Living Like Light in the World

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As I concluded our series, “Will You Be My Neighbor?”, this past weekend at Eastbrook, I took a practical look at how John 8:12 and Matthew 5:14 fit together in our faith and practice. In these two verse, a theme of light from God shining through Jesus and His people come together, yet in different directions:

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world.’” (John 8:12)

“You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14) 

There is a lot in here, but as it was a family worship weekend for us, I tried to use more story-telling and practical application to our lives. Maybe that worked and maybe it didn’t. You can watch/listen and let me know.

You can view the message video and sermon outline below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

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When God Became Our Neighbor

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This weekend at Eastbrook, we began a new 4-week series entitled “Will You Be My Neighbor?” This series is an extended reflection on how Jesus’ call to love God and love our neighbor works its way out into the ordinary context of our neighborhoods.

I began the series this weekend by looking at the call to love our neighbor through the lens of Jesus’ arrival as our neighbor and Messiah. This message was centered in John 1:14:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Of course, Eugene Peterson’s rendering of this text in The Message really drives the point home memorably:

The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.

You can view the message video and sermon outline below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

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Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

I originally wrote the following blog post in 2011 as a series of reflections on Leviticus while reading through the Bible in a year. I’m re-posting it today because it fits the themes I’ve been writing about in terms of Leviticus and displaced people.


 

neighborWhen I grew up, I spent a lot of time watching Mr. Rogers. I’m not sure why, but there was something about the songs, sweaters, and shoes that just kept me coming back for more. Mr. Rogers loved to ask that simple question day after day for his riveted little television audience: “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

In the Bible, we find the theme of being a neighbor all over the place, even if it is a bit more serious than Mr. Rogers. When Jesus is asked what the most important commandment in all of the Hebrew Bible is, He answers by saying that we are to love God with all of who we are and that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:28-34). Jesus’ summary statement ties together two commands: love of God and love of neighbor. Like with a coin, they are two sides to the same law of love.

The commandment to love God is fairly easy to grasp. Jesus draws from the celebrated Hebrew shema found in Deuteronomy 6. The shema is an identity marker for the Jewish people, in which they are called to worship and adhere to God alone.

The second half of Jesus’ words, however, comes from the often neglected book of Leviticus. In the midst of instructions about rituals, guidelines about annual ceremonies and festivals, and list upon list of what to eat and not to eat, we find these powerful words: “love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:18). Leading up to this statement, all sorts of relational situations are mentioned: stealing, lying, partiality in justice for the poor or the wealthy, slandering others, seeking revenge because of a grudge, making life difficult for the blind or deaf, and more.  Into the midst of many real life situations, God is saying that the ideal of loving our neighbor must be worked out in every social arena. It is our response to who God is. How we love others matters to God.

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