Matthew 7:7-8 in Action
“Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and the door shall be opened to you.” A verse we have know since childhood, but one that still catches me continually by surprise, a verse I often forget to apply in my daily life. But at an ECC women’s prayer meeting last year, I was challenged by a personal testimony shared by Diane Mugrage about taking prayer walks in the neighborhood. So back in the early part of the year I began praying for my neighbors weekly as I took my morning walk.
At first, I didn’t really know how or what to pray. There are about 100 houses in my subdivision, and I only know a very few people by name, much less who is a Christian, who needs to know Christ, who is hurting, or who is rejoicing. I began by praying in a very general way for the marriages of my neighbors, for the protection of their children, for healing of any illnesses, that no one would lose a job due to Covid restrictions.
These prayers I know God heard, and I believe He honored, but I was hungry to pray more specifically. I said, “Lord, not only do I not know the names of my neighbors, I don’t even know how to begin to learn their names. I can’t really just go up and knock on their doors. Please make a way for me to learn about the people who live here. Let me discover their names, provide opportunities to talk casually with them, and begin preparing their hearts to open up to me so that I can share your love with them. The need is much bigger than I can even fathom how to start addressing. BUT nothing is too difficult for you.”
I asked. I received. That very week, a neighbor I already knew was at her curb on trash day. I stopped and we talked about Covid, about school (she’s a teacher), about the judgments people make on social media—in other words, about not much, but really about everything because we made a vital connection. I saw her again the next week and learned that she likes to make cards, a hobby I am just starting. An opportunity! Yes! Thank you, Lord.
Then I met Tamara. She walks her dog through the neighborhood multiple times a week, and I had often given her a nominal greeting, but on this day, I knocked and the door opened. I stopped and began talking to her about her dog. Well, what more could a dog-lover want? She told me all about Brutus and how much he means to her, how he feels about her children and grandchildren (Look how much I discovered about her personally just by asking about her dog!). When she finished, I asked her name, and we have spoken on several occasions since then. I have told her that I pray for her and for the neighbors as I walk.
Just last week, I mentioned that I saw her granddaughter out in the yard with her when we drove by the day before. Tamara explained that she’s been watching the granddaughter because her daughter had a baby a few weeks ago who has Down’s syndrome. The baby was in the hospital over the weekend, so the big sister was with her grandmother. They are having a difficult time. I sought, God let me find the need. Now I am working on putting Tamara in touch with a Christian friend, who used to live in our neighborhood, who has a child with Down’s.
One couple around the corner are friends with my daughter and son-in-law. I knew that they are non-believers, not exactly atheists, but probably agnostic. Tom and Judith have been reaching out to them. One day they were out walking their baby as I drove down my street returning home. I stopped the car—because I am learning to seek and knock—and commented on how much the baby has grown. Well, wouldn’t you know, his birthday was coming up that weekend. I had just completed a marketing study and had a little extra cash, so we bought the baby a book about God’s love and the mom and dad a book on parenting boys. They were so grateful; the thank you note made mention of their gladness to have caring neighbors. I cried with gratitude to God who is so good to answer prayer.
Just last week, a neighbor was out changing the bulb in his yard lamp. Yep, you know what happened. I stopped to chat. And here is a first: he initiated the introduction! He is Marcus; his wife is Jackie, and they have a 6-year-old little boy. That morning I made cookies for them which we delivered in the evening. He was so pleased and said they would like to get together with us sometime!
I can’t describe for you the joy that I feel in each of these encounters with my neighbors (and I haven’t even told you about all of them). Joy in answered prayer, joy in increased opportunity to be useful, joy in the grace and mercy of God to let me be a part of His kingdom work in spite of my failure at having done nothing much in my neighborhood in the past 19 years. I look forward to seeing more of God’s work, and I pray that this testimony challenges you the way Diane Mugrage encouraged me by hers.