When I was a young guy, growing up in the Pacific Northwest, summers were something I looked forward to with great anticipation. With a 10-week break from school, a chance to earn some solid cash by working in the local berry fields, and evening swims at our local Lake Whatcom, life was filled with great times with good friends. Nowadays, the summer break from school for kids is shorter, child labor laws restrict opportunities in the fields for them and ocean temperatures here by our peninsula are pretty chilly for an evening swim. But all that shouldn’t stop us from still looking for those extra summer opportunities to share good times with friends, even if we are “big kids” now.
All this reminiscing about summer days reminds me that this season often does open up fresh opportunities for us to be connecting with neighbors and friends. Summer does that. And these connections afford us fresh opportunities to be sharing Christ’s love with them, some who are far from God and in need of a new understanding of His mercy and grace. A number of years back, some of us set aside a specific season to pursue gospel sharing opportunities by praying “Five Prayers for Five People,” asking God to open up the doors of our hearts to be ready to share as He provided the opportunities with the five for whom we were specifically praying. Just something about our intentionality in prayer and God’s determined faithfulness opened doors that were both fruitful and surprising. It was a real season of encouragement as we asked God to make the connections that would make His grace known through us. Many of us actually carried a little “F-R-A-N” card with us reminding us to be praying for the five “Friends-Relatives-Acquaintances-Neighbors” that we had selected. And then we prayed, asking God to bless them and to open up the doors that would enable us to make a personal connection where we could share more of Christ’s love with them.
So, here’s my summer proposal. Over the next eight weeks or so, from mid-June through mid-August, many of us will experience a little different schedule with increased opportunities to connect with family, neighbors and friends. How about joining me in jotting down on a card the names of five that you will commit to pray for regularly. “Five Prayers for Five People for the Summer.” (We’ll provide some FRAN cards in the church foyer, for you to write out your prayer commitments to carry with you). As you select the five for your summer focus, prayerfully consider a key area of need each one may be experiencing. Maybe it’s a need for encouragement due to a particularly stressful situation they are facing with their family or with work. Maybe your prayer will be for their conviction regarding a much-needed change in their life direction. Maybe you’ll be praying about the very foundational need they have of knowing Christ’s forgiveness and the joy He brings as they would respond to the gospel for the first time. Then, let’s pray for our own readiness as God opens doors to engage them in a spiritual conversation about our great Savior and His care for them too.
Reading through Luke’s gospel, I was struck again with how often he mentions Jesus slipping away to pray (three times in chapter nine alone). At times interrupted, and often thrust right back into the midst of a crowd of needy people, the sequence of the narrative suggests that Jesus cared for these people with a fresh readiness fueled by His times of prayer. My prayer for us this summer is that many of you will join me in this “Five Prayers” focus, and that we’ll see rich evidence of God’s answers, giving us great cause for praise to Him. We know that God calls us to pray. And we know that God promises to answer. We know, too, that we are surrounded by people in need. So let’s bring these friends to our heavenly Father, then let’s create opportunities to connect with them personally, and then let’s wait with expectancy for God’s summer blessings to follow.
Summer really is a season to look forward to. Maybe for a BBQ with a new neighbor, maybe for a getaway with some extended family, or for a Staycation at the beach with the Sanctuary crew and a new friend. Salted with a fresh application of prayer, this season can also be one rich with cause for eternal thanksgiving. Why don’t you join me in this “Five Prayers for Five People” venture. Then let’s see what our heavenly Father will be pleased to do.