Some people may never have the privilege of knowing a believer who will pray God’s love and peace over their lives, families and neighbourhoods. That’s why we should bring prayer to people, wherever they are. Prayer ‘on location’ costs us nothing, except a bit of time and exercise in walking around the places we feel led to bless. We can pray for our neighbourhoods, work districts, local markets and more.
Going with intentionality to pray at such places with one or two fellow believers is referred to as “prayer walking”. It is a form of intercessory prayer (praying for others) except that we are being proactive, rather than reactive.
Prayer walking has several benefits:
- It makes us more sensitive to what’s in God’s heart for people as we look at the world around us through His eyes.
- It can shift the spiritual climate in a place, making people’s hearts more open to God.
- It prepares / protects a place for open ministry.
- It unites the Christians in a neighbourhood when they come together in the same Spirit.
- Most of all, such prayers please God, because we are praying for “all people”, not just ourselves or those we know.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 ESV First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
How to prayer walk
1. Partner up
It’s good to do a prayer walk together with one or two prayer partners, not more. Bigger groups bring unnecessary attention. If we start as a big group, simply split up into small groups.
2. Pray for God to unveil our eyes and provide discernment
We should start off with prayer over ourselves; asking God to open both our physical and spiritual eyes to see the people around us as He sees them. We can invite the Holy Spirit to be our Guide and ask for His protection and guidance as we walk.
Isaiah 42:6-7 ESV “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
3. Plan the route and time
Ideally, each prayer walk should last for about 30 minutes. Before we start, it is helpful to agree on the route/s, and where to reconvene back together again if there is more than one small group participating. If any one person feels prompted to go off track as the Spirit leads, he or she should check with the other prayer partners if they also feel at peace about the new route before going off along it.
4. Stay alert
As we prayer walk, we will begin to notice things we may not have paid attention to before, as long as we stay alert to all that is around us. As we walk, we should ask the Holy Spirit to show us the practical and spiritual needs in the area:
- Local communities: Are there low-income or wealthy families, young teenagers, senior citizens, office workers etc.? How can we pray for their specific needs?
- Local conditions or needs: What is the place known for? Is it shopping, drinking, schools, drugs, poverty, temples etc.? What is the environment like? Is it well kept, run down, busy, quiet etc.? How can we pray for the local social needs and problems, and ask God to bless them with solutions?
- Local Christians or churches: Are there Christian groups? What activities do they host? How can we pray for their leaders and the Christians in the area? Could we pray for more love, faith and boldness, as well as protection?
- Individuals: Are there individuals who look like they could do with some help or encouragement? How can we pray for them?
Ephesians 6:18-19 ESV praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,
5. Be a source of blessing
We should pray quietly, but audibly and conversationally. Only life-giving words should be used, never words of death or curses. Let’s remember to give thanks and praise to God for keeping watch over the area and what He will do in the hearts of the people living there, asking for His blessing and provision on the local communities. Importantly, we should invite Him to grow the faith of the Christians living in the area so they can be a light that cannot be hidden, doing good and not evil.
Matthew 5:13-14 ESV “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
3 John 1:11 ESV Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.
It is good to jot down promptings we may get as we pray, as we may decide to continue to pray for people and places even after we have left the location.
We should never be an obstruction or cause any inconvenience as we prayer walk, remembering to remain natural and friendly as we walk around. Anyone who appears to be anxious, stressed or “talking to themselves” will give observers unnecessary cause for worry.
And we can praise God if someone asks us what we are doing, because it is an opportunity to share our faith. We can explain that we are praying blessings over the neighbourhood and ask if they would like us to pray for anything in particular. If we are asked to leave for whatever reason, we simply need to do so quietly and respectfully.
If we notice anyone who seems like they need prayer and feel prompted by the Holy Spirit to talk to them, we shouldn’t hesitate to do so. People have talked strangers out of suicide or brought comfort and hope, just by following the Holy Spirit’s lead. We can say something like, “Hi, my name is (name). We are from the nearby church, (name of church), and were just walking by. My friends and I couldn’t help but notice that you might like some company / need some support right now. Are things alright? Is there something we can do?”
6. Share observations and consider follow up
It is always exciting and uplifting to share our insights and experiences with others afterwards. We should consider if any follow-up actions can be taken to address the issues that have been observed in the area. For instance, we may consider bringing food to the homeless, developing friendships with the needy, volunteering at local hospitals, visiting someone who was prayed for, reporting broken public facilities etc. Last but not least, we should consider committing to prayer walking the area regularly, because our prayers can accomplish more than what we can humanly achieve.
1 Timothy 2:1 ESV First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,
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