When Phil Hunter knocked on the door of a home in his suburban Dallas neighborhood, he did not know what to expect. He knew the residents by name, but they had never met in person. “My name is Phil. I am one of your neighbors, and I just wanted to come by and meet you,” he said.
This neighbor is just one of the one hundred who live closest to Hunter for whom he prays, by name, each day using a web-based application called Pray4EveryHome. The interface not only helps Hunter and his wife identify the homes, but sends them an email each morning with five names from their list. “When we see neighbors on our daily walks, we often tell them, ‘We prayed for you this week!’ They always smile and are grateful,” Hunter said.
“It is an intentional way for my wife and me to be praying for our neighbors,” said Hunter, a former state director of evangelism. “God changes us as we pray; and God answers those prayers!” Hunter and his wife make return visits to invest in the lives of their neighbors and find out what is important to them. “That gives us the opportunity to share about our lives and how Christ has changed us,” he said. “And this afternoon, Mike sat with me in a local restaurant and openly wept as he repented and gave his life to Jesus. That is what praying for our neighbors can do; it can change lives.”
To date, Pray4EveryHome has registered more than twenty-one thousand Praying Neighbors, and more than eight hundred churches and organizations use the web-based system to guide congregants in daily praying for the one hundred neighbors closest to their home. Since its inception, more than 4.2 million prayers have been recorded in the system.
“We started this journey by asking, ‘What would God do if we began praying for every home in our community by name?’” said Vince Smith, executive director for Collin Baptist Association in northeast Dallas where Pray4EveryHome was born.
The initiative was launched following discussions with local pastors about their perceptions that churches and individuals do not pray as they should. Smith said his prayer has been that this not be just a moment, but a movement of God in our communities. Smith has watched Pray4EveryHome grow from something designed to help the churches of the association, to a tool which is now being used in all fifty states, plus the District of Columbia. “God has started to take those prayers and move people’s hearts,” said Smith. “Now, we are hearing stories about people not just praying for their neighbors, but caring for them, and sharing the Gospel with them as well!”
New changes to the Pray4EveryHome organization are bringing an upgrade to the already easy-to-use prayer tool, the most significant of which is that Pray4EveryHome is now completely free to all users—including partner churches and organizations. Other changes include a new look, the beta release of an app for mobile devices, and new features to the website. Smith noted that every week new individuals, churches, networks of churches, and other Christian denominations are joining Pray4EveryHome.
Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas and immediate past president of the SBC, helped elevate the desperate need for personal and corporate prayer on the national stage during his two-year SBC presidency. Floyd led his church to begin using Pray4EveryHome to pray for his own neighbors a year ago. Today, he has a vision to see every home in his region covered in prayer.
Cross Church launched a prayer emphasis in their four campuses prior to Easter 2016. Now, more than twelve hundred Cross Church members are using Pray4EveryHome to daily pray for the people in more than one hundred thousand households, by name.
“The lostness of America is overwhelming,” said Floyd. “Pray4EveryHome gives the opportunity for churches to work together throughout a city to pray for their community.”
Floyd added that praying for our neighbors and our community is something churches can do cooperatively. “Practicing the principles of praying, sowing, nourishing, and reaping are significant in relationship to an evangelistic harvest,” said Floyd. “It all begins with prayer. And it inspires me to ask God to create an open door for me to share the Gospel.”
James Pool, national prayer director of OneCry, said God convicted him that the best way to love his neighbors was to pray for them. “Pray4EveryHome has given me a tool that enables me to do that. It also reminds me daily to include this type of intercession in my regular prayer patterns,” said Pool. “It has made a huge difference in meeting and ministering to my neighbors. I now watch for God’s activity in those encounters and am always looking for opportunities to find out where my neighbors are spiritually.”
OneCry is a nationwide call for spiritual awakening and resource center that provides tools to help individuals and churches seek God in prayer, repentance, and collective action.
Recently Pool and his family spent an afternoon knocking on doors so they could pray for their neighbors in person. He said at the first door they were warmly welcomed by an older man and invited to sit and visit. After Pool told his neighbor that he had been praying for him, the man shared that no one in his lifetime had ever shared with him how he could have eternal life and a personal relationship with God. After explaining the Gospel, the man very humbly bowed his head and confessed his faith and trust in Jesus Christ. “I cannot help but believe that it was God, using our Spirit-prompted prayers through Pray4EveryHome, who opened the door for this glorious visit,” said Pool.
You or your church can begin praying daily by name for your neighbors by visiting Pray4EveryHome.org. A mobile app is currently in beta development and will be available for download from your device’s app store in the fall. For more information, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marc Ira Hooks is associate director of missions and director of communication with Collin Baptist Association in Northeast Dallas, Texas, and is a member of Community North Baptist Church in McKinney, Texas.