How Can We Love Our local community? 

 By Sammy Jordan  Project Lead Hope for Every Home

It’s February and the supermarket aisles are festooned with all things red, pink and heart-shaped. The supermarket seasonal aisle is one of my cultural reference points because it signals what people are immersed in; what’s already in the popular psyche. I then wonder what the invitation is, what the church can offer that builds a bridge between the culture of the supermarket aisle and faith. Living on a new estate, where I try to be good news as I live with, love and serve my neighbours, that’s the question I’m asking myself this February as Valentine’s Day approaches.

I’m not big on Valentine’s Day. Dramatic gestures of affection are not my thing; but love is. There are lots of people who won’t receive cards, flowers or chocolates on 14th February, but I’d love everyone (no pun intended) to know that they are loved. I can’t help thinking how different the world would be, if everyone knew that they are a child of Christ, and heard the words, ‘You are my beloved child’. If love shaped us, rather than looks, money, ability, skills, and social media skewed senses of self-worth, the world would be transformed!
So, as we focus on local prayer as part of Just Pray 22, what’s the opportunity of Valentine’s Day in the red, pink and heart-shaped stuff that will fill the popular psyche? How can we love our local community as a way of expressing that we love because he first loved us? I’m going to suggest two ways and share what I’m doing here on North Stoneham Park, the local community I try to love. I’m sure there are lots of other ways too and would love to hear from you if you are doing anything.

Love Our Schools

Love Our Schools is an initiative that happens in February each year led by Pray for Schools. In 2022 it spans 6th-20th February #loveourschools. Pray for Schools is encouraging people to use this time to both pray for local schools and to serve them in practical ways. The focus for 2022 is on, ‘care for each other and the environment’ with suggestions such as taking treats into school for teachers (biscuits, chocolates, flowers), offering to do a litter pick for your local school, stationery for teachers and thank you cards. For more ideas and resources go to Love Our Schools | Pray For Schools

Love our Schools is specifically asking people to pray prayers of blessing on their local school. Speaking blessing is the second thing I want to focus on.
Blessing is something that God has been teaching me about recently. An online dictionary defines it as ‘God’s favour and protection’. If we remove God from the equation, as most of the population tend to, we are still left with the notion of blessing being something positive; an encouragement that promotes happiness and wellbeing. Blessing is a good thing and, after the last two years, I think we probably need more blessing in our lives.

Fathers Love and Blessing

I’ve been learning a lot about blessing from Lisa Hutt and Wendy Thomas from Neighbourhood Prayer Network and you can find out more about this at  I’ve been struck by the language of ‘speaking blessing’ which is much more accessible than ‘praying a blessing’ which implies particular words. Lisa and Wendy encourage us to be more intentional when it comes to speaking words of blessing over our local areas and over people. Blessing might still seem like some super spiritual jargon but when asked to explain what it might look like to speak blessings, Lisa and Wendy explain it as asking ourselves, ‘What are the good things that God wants for your local area?’ Then listen to God’s heart and then pray in line with God’s will. God is a God of love and transformation. Knowing our local areas, knowing the needs, what work of love and transformation, what Kingdom work, do we want to ask God for? Healing for the sick? Food for the hungry? Peace for the fearful? Joy for the sad…? For Wendy and Lisa love and blessing are intertwined.
The greatest blessing is to know the Father’s love for you and then give it away to others. When you love someone you want to bless them. When you know how loved you are by Father God you want others to know his love too. We come to know the Father through our belief and trust in Jesus. I particularly love how Wendy and Lisa link this with repentance because, as you speak words of blessing, it becomes difficult to hold onto any bitterness.
Fathers Love and Blessing Book
Wendy and Lisa have written a book together which has recently been published. The book is based on a vision Wendy had from God of a wall of blessing around the nation where there were smaller walls around towns, families and streets that formed a patchwork effect; a blanket of protective blessing from God. For more details check out


So, what am I doing on North Stoneham Park to make the most of the opportunity of Valentine’s Day and love being upper most in people’s thoughts? I’m speaking blessing over my local area. With a group of friends and neighbours, we will prayer walk every street and speak blessings as we feel prompted to by God. Prayer is powerful, prayer changes things, it changes the spiritual temperature and so it feels exciting to be claiming God’s love for every single street and person on the estate and speaking out Kingdom blessings. However, we want this to be missional; we want to start a conversation. So, as we walk round the estate speaking blessings, we will use red chalk to claim the ground and will draw a heart enclosing the words, BLESSING, COMFORT, HOPE, on every road…probably multiple times. BLESSING, COMFORT, HOPE are our prayer; but for people on the estate who don’t pray, we hope they are words that will resonate, words of blessing.
Can I encourage you to use February to pray for your local area, for friends and neighbours? This is what Just Pray is all about. Pray for people to know the love that truly defines them, a love that can transform and is not seasonal like the supermarket aisle, but which transcends time. Let’s be intentional about speaking blessings over our local area and be expectant: God’s word never comes back to him empty and wouldn’t it be amazing to see, through eyes of faith, a patchwork blanket of blessings across our nation.
If you'd like to pray for your local area together with others, join us on 22nd of every month at 8pm for twenty minutes as we pray together, Find us on the HOPE Together Facebook page 
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