“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 13:30-31).
According to the above verses, Jesus considered loving our neighbor as the second greatest commandment, just under our love for Him. That’s pretty important on the scale of things. Jesus meant it in an inclusive way for all those we meet day to day, but let’s look at it in a more personal way.
For many of us, our neighbors — those who live immediately around us — are strangers. This was brought home to me recently when tragedy struck just across the street. I confess, I did not know the man’s name. He was the “invisible” neighbor whose comings and goings I literally never saw. At times I wondered if anyone really lived in that quiet, dark house. Until, that is, the evening when a soul lost all hope and gave up on life.
If I really am to love my neighbors as myself, one of the first things I will do is pray for them. I had prayed for my neighbors, but I reevaluated my prayers after that night and decided they were too general. Perhaps your prayers are similar to what mine were, especially for the families you do not know well.
Here are specific ways in which we can all pray for our neighbors.
- Pray for each family by name when possible.
(An internet search may provide those you do not know.)
- Pray for God’s protection over your neighborhood.
“The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul” (Psalm 121:7).
“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).
- Pray that you will be a good influence in your community.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4, NKJV).
“Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10, NKJV).
- Pray that they will realize God’s great love for them.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
- Pray that God will give your neighbors true peace and joy.
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13).
- Pray that they will enjoy healthy relationships within the family and with others.
“With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3, NKJV).
- Pray that God will meet their every need.
“. . . The LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound . . . to comfort all that mourn . . . to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness . . . (Isaiah 61:1-3).
- Pray for their salvation.
“Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4).
“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).