The PEARL: Part 1 – Pray
“The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” – Matthew 13:45-46
Six weeks ago, I found myself sitting in church feverishly taking notes as my pastor, Jeff Griffin, began preaching the first in a series of messages challenging us to embrace our God-given mission of evangelism. (Conveniently, his five suggestions formed the acronym PEARL.) My heart raced as I listened, knowing that in a few short weeks I would be speaking at a homeschoolers convention on this very subject.
If you’re a Christ follower, then you possess the pearl of great value spoken of in Matthew 13. Do you long to share that great treasure of salvation? Your neighbors are in desperate need. They want what you have. So how are you going to help them find it?
Over the next four Thursdays, we’ll explore what evangelism might look like for a Christian homeschooler. Though I’ll borrow my pastor’s acronym, I won’t be reciting his sermons. (But you can listen to them here.) As you join me, I hope you’ll comment below and share how you’re reaching your friends and neighbors for Christ.
Before we begin, here’s the acronym and what each letter stands for:
P = Pray for your neighbors
E = Eat with your neighbors
A = Ask your neighbors to tell you their story
R = Reveal your story
L = Love tangibly
Today, let’s explore what it would look like to actively pray for our neighbors. What does your prayer life look like? Mine can, at times, be full of SOS prayers: “Help me, Lord!” “Keep me, Lord!” or “I’m going down, Lord!”
I’m also really good at “Thank you, Jesus” prayers. “Thank you, Jesus, for your love!” “Thank you, Jesus, for your provision.” “Thank you, Jesus, for your help!”
Then, of course, I always pray for my kids, my husband, my extended family, my church family and their kids, husbands, and families. But I confess, praying for my neighbors does not enter into my daily prayers very often. Jeff challenged me deeply in this area. He also reminded me of a time when I used to pray for my neighbors.
God once moved us to a neighborhood overflowing, it seemed, with lost souls. I was homeschooling for the first time. My oldest was eight and my youngest was three. We lived on a cul-de-sac where inebriation was a common occurrence. The Fourth of July, children’s birthdays, weekends . . . all were excuses for a party and excessive drinking. We ran for cover during one Fourth of July binge when fireworks began shooting off in all directions, lighting patches of grass on fire. We watched in amazement the summer the men decided to have a keg party and take turns roofing each other’s house. How they managed to accomplish the task with a hammer in one hand and a beer in the other while standing on a roof astounded me. It was tempting to hide behind our walls and pretend we were busy. Yet, God convicted us that we were living in a mission field.
So, we began to pray for our neighbors—at meal times, at bed times, in the morning, in the afternoon. We prayed so often that it became natural to hear our kids say, “We need to pray some more for them, Mommy!” Of course, we engaged in meaningful ways with our neighbors as well. I’ll share more about that next week.
One Sunday morning our next-door neighbor burst out of her door as we were leaving for church. “Guess what, guess what!” she called, waving a tissue in the air. “I got born again last night!” I jumped out of the car to embrace her and invited her to join us for church. She not only joined us for church on Sunday mornings but also came to our small group on Wednesday nights and our ladies’ Bible study on Tuesday mornings. Her transformation filled us with joy! Her love for Jesus grew and before long she led one of the other neighbors to Christ. God answered our prayers!
Are you afraid of your neighbors and the influence they may have on your children? Praying is the first step to conquering that fear. Do you despise the way your neighbors live? Prayer is essential for a heart change on your part. Have you found yourself avoiding contact with your neighbors out of insecurity or shyness? Prayer will give you courage and wisdom to conquer your insecurities.
The Bible tells us to pray at all times and for all things and that if we come to the Lord in prayer the peace of God which passes all understanding will be ours in Christ Jesus. Do you believe God died for your neighbors? Are you willing to begin praying for them to be transformed? Are you willing to step outside your walls and enter into the mess of life with them? If so, then you are ready to do the PEARL. Your neighbors desperately need and want to know Jesus. You have the answer. You can bring true joy by simply being a good neighbor who prays, eats, asks, reveals, and loves.
So how do you get up the courage to invite your neighbors to eat with you (the next step of the PEARL)? Let’s dive into that next time.
Joleen Steel is the curriculum specialist for Camping Stick Kids. She has a B.A. in elementary education. She taught public school for ten years before deciding to open her own music studio and homeschool her boys. Joleen is a pastor’s wife and grew up as a pastor’s kid. Her love for the good news of Jesus Christ flows out of her and into the camping stick kids curriculum. Her easy style and creative approach to teaching will encourage your student to learn the Gospel story and be able to share the good news with their friends and family. Joleen would love to have you visit the camping stick kids website and blog. Come say hi at www.campingstickkids.com