I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
Billy Graham calls this approach, "the most effective evangelism tool ever developed!" Your church, even your home can become a "Lighthouse of Prayer" to reach others for Christ. Many years ago I was on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ and we started this program on how to better reach our neighbors with prayer. Later on it was infolded into "Mission America," our Ministry Partner and the Association that Into Thy Word is a part of.
What is a Light House? Throughout recorded history, from the ancient Egyptians to the Mesopotamians and the Greeks, a lighthouse was, and still is a beacon of light to warn ships at sea of danger such as rocks, and to provide rescue for ships in distress. This strategy can also be applied to make His Grace known. We can do this by becoming a Lighthouse of Prayer as a beacon of light to the wonders of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the Light and you are the lighthouse. This is one of the most non-threatening, totally convenient, simple, yet profound methods of reaching the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Based on Luke 10, a Lighthouse of Prayer group does not talk to their neighbors about God; rather they simply spend as little as five minutes a day in prayer for their neighbors. This, for the past several years, has been the focus of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Mission America as well as Campus Crusade for Christ.
It is simple, as the focus is to prayer, share, and care for your neighbors. A Lighthouse is a gathering of two or more people, in Jesus' name, uniting together to pray for, care for, and lovingly share Jesus Christ with their neighbors and others in their sphere of influence. You and others from your church are to pray for your neighbors. You can formally set them up as "Houses of Prayer." These may be in homes, places of business, work sites, college dorms, apartments, prison cells-any place where Believers can gather to pray for unbelievers.
Becoming a Lighthouse is a simple process. You begin by making the commitment to pray for, care for, and share Christ with people in your neighborhoods or spheres of influence. If the notion of sharing your faith in Christ scares you, do not worry because the Lighthouse strategy is a simple way for all to share-sometimes without even speaking a word or overtly sharing your faith! Pray with compassion and conviction. But, of course, to really be more influential, you should also open your mouth with what is in your heart.
The Lighthouse approach begins by identifying your neighbors, those you will pray for and eventually share Christ with. The best way to begin is to do a "prayer-walk" your neighborhood. Prayer walking is easy. At least once a week (preferably once a day) go on a walk through your neighborhood, praying for each home as you walk by. Many people pray five blessings upon five homes (a strategy developed by Houses of Prayer). Prayer walking is most successful when you go with another person such as spouse, family, or another Christian in your neighborhood. Prayer for blessings is praying for God's best upon your neighbor's health, family, work, emotions, social life, and spiritual life.
After doing a few prayer walks, begin letting your neighbors know in casual conversation that you are praying for them, and ask them if there is something specific they would like you to pray for. Most people will be glad to give you one or two items. Pray for those items during your prayer walk; share them with your small group or prayer group at church (keep confidences); then, a few days later, ask each person what is happening. Continue prayer walking regularly as you care for and share with your neighbors. Prayer walking in your neighborhood in this fashion begins opening the doors of opportunity. As those doors open, you can show love to your neighbors by offering to do practical things for them that they will appreciate. Begin building bridges. Serve them and meet their needs. Do random acts of kindness-mow a lawn, buy food, baby-sit, look out for a job for a person out of work, send their kid to camp, etc.
The next stage is cultivating common activities like starting block parties, cookouts, sports, and other events. This goes a long way toward building relationships and showing each neighbor you are the kind of Christian that genuinely cares for them. As you express care for your neighbors, you are actually preparing them to receive an important gift that will introduce them to a love far greater than yours.
Then from this, you can start to develop small groups. Use the Alpha Course or the Into Thy Word Small Group Curriculum Model (at www.intothyword.com on the Small Group Channel). Now you have started evangelistic Small Groups! You can also register as a Lighthouse to help you in committing to reach the people in your sphere of influence for Christ through this three‑fold strategy of praying for, caring for, and sharing with your neighbors. There are further resources that will help you get started in praying for, caring for, and sharing Christ with those around you. This includes video training, tracts, and encouragement (See Appendix III for the links to these organizations).
The Bible urges that prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for everyone. And "everyone" includes our neighbors, whom God wants "to be saved and to come to a knowledge of truth (1 Timothy 2:1-8)." If you are a Believer, if you have neighbors, if you love the Lord and care about those neighbors, and if you have five minutes a day to pray for them, you can start a House of Prayer!
How do we start?
Start by praying for the "Fives"
1 Five neighbors or persons or households who live or work near you, for
2 Five minutes a day, for
3 Five days a week, for
4 Five weeks, with
5 Five blessings.
Use the acronym "BLESS" to remind yourself of five important areas to cover when praying for others:
Body-physical needs, health, energy
Labor-work, income, job satisfaction
Emotional-inner life, joy, peace
Social-family relationships, friends
Spiritual-repentance, faith, holiness.
This is a start. At the end of five weeks, you decide whether or not to continue. It does not have to be an every day commitment in order to make a powerful difference. As you go, you may start to increase your time.
How do I pray for my neighbors? Be friendly! Lighthouse provides a five‑week devotional guide designed to help you pray for your friends and neighbors, and a booklet that shows how a House of Prayer can powerfully change your life and your neighborhood. They also have "door-hangers" and prayer greeting cards-tools to help you connect with those you are praying for, and "Power House," a monthly newsletter full of stories, articles, and ideas about prayer that will help and encourage you.
How can I begin?
Start by saying yes to God's call! Then document what you will be doing
Persons I will pray for: write your name below to commit to pray for your neighbors:
Persons I will pray with:
My five-week commitment begins ______ and ends the week of_____
What I have learned as I have prayed: ________________________
Why should I start a Lighthouse?
1 The gift you give each person is the Good News about Jesus Christ. There are many ways that you can introduce Jesus to your neighbors. Lighthouse is an excellent and easy way to commence!
2 Because your neighbors are fragmented, disconnected, isolated, or lost! They need to see God illustrated in the lives of others-in your life!
3. If you have no problem openly sharing your faith, use your times of caring to begin probing about the spiritual condition and beliefs of your neighbors. Materials like the "Four Spiritual Laws" from Campus Crusade will help you present the Gospel clearly. See our Evangelism Channel for more great resources!
4 If you are not sure how to share your faith, then gift giving is the strategy you should use. Giving a copy of the JESUS film to neighbors usually results in nearly half of all homes having someone receive Christ. Giving JESUS films or The Passion of the Christ during holidays can have even greater impact! After you give this gift, check back with them within a few days and ask them what they thought of the video. You may discover that many of your friends prayed to receive Christ at the end of the film, but they do not know what to do next. That is your opportunity to lead them in an investigative or evangelistic Bible study for new Believers, or get them involved in your church.
5 Ready to Build! Every day, new Lighthouses are being established. You can be a part of the growing number of people whom God is using to see their neighbors come to know Christ. They are centers of blessing in which Believers ask the Father for blessings on those who live or work near them.
Can we depend on you to leave His light on from your prayers and example? Let us make our homes "Power House" Lighthouses (Matthew 5: 14-16; John 4:35; 6:44)!
You might want to make a simple slogan, "we are to perceive before we receive." That means we are to engage in prayer before we can accomplish the task. And, when we are in prayer, we come into a metamorphosis that transforms us from the very nature of who we are. Because the first thing that changes for the person praying is the person praying. And, when we are changed, that means our evil, self-desiring nature turns around to become a heart after people other than ourselves. So, we gain the perspective of our Lord and the heart for His people, then the passion to do His will. Then we will receive less opposition from our enemy, the prince of darkness, because He that is in us is greater than he in the world. Prayer is also our shield to protect and defend us from attack and curses. No amount of study and work we can ever do will match the work of our Lord that will flow through us in prayer!
The key is our realization of who Christ is and the power He puts at our disposal for His purpose. Our Lord told the Disciples firsthand that they would be able to ask anything in His name; then they lived and experienced it. They did not realize they could do the things they saw their Master do; yet they did. Do we realize what we can do? If so, do we attempt it or do we shirk at the chance and that His choice is to use and work through us? And yet, what is our choice? The ministry that our Lord started on this earth continues through us, and through prayer, we receive His direction and power to accomplish it.
Prayer is the essential key to evangelism; if you are not praying, you are not evangelizing or being used by God very much!
Questions to Ponder
1. Do you realize that if you just coast through life, you will miss out on precious opportunities? You will become stale and ineffective in all that you do. The Christian life requires active participation. It requires our best efforts and commitment to make it work well. If not, we will not develop, grow, or produce real, effective results. We will not be much of a benefit to those around us. So, what can you do to prevent yourself from becoming stale?
2. Why do you suppose Jesus went to the "everyman" and did not concentrate on the leaders and wealthy?
3. What can you do to become a person who uses prayer? What can you do to put God in every dimension in your life so He is displayed in you in everything you do?
4. Outline out a plan to put into practice some of the precepts of these last few chapters:
a. A willingness to listen.
b. The ability to practice real authentic faith.
c. A willingness to trust Christ regardless of circumstances.
d. Practice surrendered obedience.
e. Now, what will your life look like with these precepts at work in you?
"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world." John 17:24
Some passages to consider: Proverbs 30:8; Matthew 6:5-15,19-34; 7:7-12 18:21-23; 26: 36-44; Luke 11:1-4; 18:1-8; John 17; 2 Corinthians 12:7-8; James 2:13; 1 John 1:9
© 2006, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org