STOP!!! Make sure you read and meditate on the Day 16 reading before you continue. The concept of prayer shining light in darkness is not a new one in ‘Why Pray’ and honestly, my wife and I have had discussions about struggling through the level of control that we have in getting God to act. Don’t get me wrong---I firmly believe that prayer works, just struggle a little with the idea that ‘I call God’s attention to those people in a way that He would not attend if I had not prayed for them.’ (Day 7, pg. 55) In reading that, I imagine a distant, aloof, forgetful God that ‘misplaced’ the Jones’ family until I brought them to His attention. Oh, they were in the cul-de-sac the whole time---thanks for locating them mike!!
Sorry for the sarcasm and I know I am adding words to what the author stated, but this is where my mind went. So, I have been wrestling with this for a week plus and it came back up again in Day 16. I do love the empirical evidence the author gives on the Chicago housing project, mall, and the houses in the 80 and 80 example (Day 10)---hard to argue that!
In pondering the concept today, I was thinking of Ephesians 6:12, ‘For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.’ This verse helped things gel for me. When I come on behalf of a family, neighborhood, business, school, etc., I am going to battle in the heavenly realms for them. Jesus’ name has power in the heavenly realms and I believe His name helps push against the forces of darkness that have so blinded the family, neighborhood, etc.
2 Corinthians 4:4 came to mind while writing this…’The god (notice lower case---that’s Satan) of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.’ People are spiritually blind and going through life in the dark, because of the forces of evil in the heavenly realms. The name of Jesus’, through prayer, begins to bring light into their lives and combat these forces.
So, I don’t think John D. is saying God is aloof or loses people or neighborhoods. Maybe it was a semantic thing or just challenged my theological box, but I do agree that praying for families, neighborhoods, etc. does make an impact that would not be present without someone praying for them.
Last thought then I am out…when my wife and I were in the process of selling our condo and moving to Pville a couple years ago, we were intentional about praying for God to lead us to the specific area/house so we could make the biggest Kingdom impact and be used by Him. We still pray for our neighbors and neighborhood on a fairly regular basis. We have not seen revival yet, but do have some close friends that we would not have met and have walked with them through some really challenging times, which we believe was God lead. We firmly believe that God lead us to this house/area and is using us here to bring Jesus’ name against the forces of darkness. We will keep praying about our area and hopefully will be available to plant seeds and share the Gospel to those He brings before us!
We should think of ourselves on mission in whatever location we spend our time---no one else has the potential to reach those within our specific circle of influence! It is up to each of us, within the body of Christ, to answer the call and be salt and light in our areas. I challenge you to ask God to bring someone to mind to consistently come on their behalf in the spiritual realms. Who is He challenging you to pray for? Family? Neighborhoods? Businesses? Schools? Countries? I would love to hear how this concept has honestly struck you and also challenge you (and me!) to consistently pray for someone or a group of people.