Why You Should Start Praying for Your Neighbor

by David Crum

Photo: Adobe Stock

Prayer is your opportunity to communicate directly with God. We should praise Him, thank Him, and seek His understanding and guidance.

In the Old Testament, David and Daniel both prayed throughout the day (Psalm 55:16-22, Daniel 6:10). Such should be the standard for us.

Prayer should be the focus of our life. J. C. Ryle (1816-1900) shared, “I suggest to you that it is most important to make prayer a regular part of your day… it is essential to your soul’s health to make prayer part of every twenty-four hours in your life. Just as you make time for eating, sleeping and work, so also make time for prayer.”[1]

Jesus taught us to pray for others, including our opposition, in Luke 6:28. Well-known in Christian teachings is the need and requirement to serve, pray, and honor one’s neighbor.

The late George W. Truett (1867-1944) defined the concept of a neighbor:

“Your neighbor is anyone on the face of the Earth who needs you. Maybe he lives next door to you in Dallas; maybe he’s the most distantly removed citizen from you in Dallas, or the most distantly removed citizen from you in the state of Texas, or in America, or maybe he’s on the other side of the world, so bedarkened and benighted and paganized that he doesn’t know there’s such a country as America, much less about you. Very well; wherever in all the world there’s anybody who needs you and me, there’s our neighbor.” [2]

Jesus set the standard with His remarks on “loving your neighbor.”

“And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.'” – Matthew 22:37-40

The Greatest Commandment seems so simple but challenging to carry out. Most people do not deny the natural inclination towards selfishness, which alone proves the need for a Savior.

Praying for your neighbor, whether the person is a friend, stranger, or even an enemy, is a biblical requirement that challenges our own soul.

The first Christian Martyr, Stephen, prayed for the very people stoning him to death, allowing his last words to be: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (Acts 7:60)

We pray because God has commanded us to do so, and this is our direct way of communicating with the Lord (Matthew 7:7).

In a day when the political climate is growing increasingly hostile, continuing to separate Americans, we need the Lord’s blessings and guidance.

We pray for our neighbor because we believe that our sole purpose in life is to honor, serve, and love God and to do the same for our neighbor. This does not mean that Christians cannot have strong political opinions or disagreements with people. However, we should center our motives on Christ’s love. Believers should always care for the salvation of others; even those you might disagree with.

Creating a routine of regular prayer is straightforward. If you don’t pray or perhaps neglect frequent prayers, start a morning prayer routine. The great General Stonewall Jackson had a customary morning prayer every day at 7:00 am. Consider emulating this practice or starting something similar.

The Lord has blessed the United States in the most peculiar ways. Though as great as the United States is, the nation desperately needs the Lord and to be run by godly leaders. Pray to the Lord for your country and neighbor.

May the Lord guide our land with kindness, mercy, and blessings. May those who do not know Jesus Christ come to saving faith. Allow our constant pursuit to be found in the Lord and derive solace from His word. —Amen.

[1] J.C. Ryle, Do You Pray, (Leyland: EP Books, 2018), 54.

[2] George Truett, “The Chief Standard of Greatness” (sermon, First Baptist Church of Dallas, Dallas, TX, July 6, 1941), http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu/cdm/search/collection/fa-gwt (accessed January 11, 2024).

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