Encounter: Find a quiet place and in an unhurried and slow pace, read through the following passages that tell us how, when and why Jesus prayed and what occurred through him as he encountered people around him.
(Luke 6:12-16) Jesus chooses his team after praying, (Luke 3:21) Jesus prays at his baptism, and the heavens are opened as he is filled with the Holy Spirit and blessed by the Father.
(Luke 5:16) Jesus had a regular practice of withdrawing from the crowds by himself to pray.
(Luke 9:16a) Jesus prayed before performing miracles asking the Father to bless the work he was doing.
(Luke 22:32) Jesus prayed for his friends, that they would remain strong in their faith.
(Luke 22:41) Jesus spent the night before his crucifixion alone in a garden praying
The worship center was full on a beautiful fall day in Phoenix and I was outside at the Welcome Center answering questions about the upcoming Alpha Course. “My life is just fine and I don’t really need anything, but my husband thinks it might be helpful for me to come to Alpha. Can you tell me what to expect?” Ann’s husband was one of our discussion leaders in Alpha and had been praying for his wife for years to experience God’s love through Jesus. They shared everything in life except their faith and his heart found hope in her sudden openness to attend.
Ann would go through Alpha three times but still struggled to receive the love of God until a crisis hit their family. A cousin had been abducted by a boyfriend and she was missing. Ann was frantic and one day prayed to this God she did not know saying if God would bring her home she would follow him the rest of her life. The next day, her cousin was found and Ann kept to her promise to God, became a follower of Jesus and served on the Alpha Team for many years. Life shows us that God uses prayer to change us and then uses us to change our world.
I remember hearing Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom say, “We never know how God will answer our prayers, but we can expect that He will get us involved in His plan for the answer.”
For most of us prayer is something we know we should do and we even want to do but it is hard to be consistent especially when we don’t know how to pray or we are too busy and we doubt that prayer works.
As we think about ways to BLESS our neighbor, we can use tools like a BLESS prayer list, the “Who is My Neighbor” graphic and our small groups to spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Heb.10:24) and be more intentional about beginning each day praying for those God has place into our spheres of influence.
The Alpha Course is a great opportunity to invite someone you know to experience life in a loving community and gives space for them to bring their questions about God. Begin praying about who you can invite to The Alpha Course. It will change your life and theirs. Consider attending with them.
This Communion Sunday we will share more about how God has blessed us to be a blessing and how when we pray we open ourselves to the leading of Holy Spirit, we focus our minds to recognize His promptings and we become aware of the direction God is leading us to BLESS people. This is the Jesus way. The Jesus mission “Begins with Prayer.”
Praying over my list,
Reflect: Prayer is a conversation in which we talk to God and He talks to us. Have you ever felt a prompting from God to reach out to someone? How did you respond? What was the result? How challenging is it for you to begin your activities and ministries with prayer before the “tasks.”
Encourage: Take your journal or a notebook and write BLESS in big letters at the top. Write down the names of the neighbors around you in the vicinity of your home, those around you at work/school and other community groups along with family members. Begin to pray for God to BLESS these people and ask for opportunities where you can share Jesus and his love and purpose for their lives. Commit to praying for them for a year. Invite people to The Alpha Course to encourage their faith.
Gather: Share BLESS posts from our Instagram and Facebook posts with friends, give them a BLESS card and share our website with all its resources with people God sends you to. Be a gatherer of those God wants to BLESS. Continue to pray over your list daily.