I found this to be a most inspirational article. Prayer walking rocks! However, I don’t agree with any statement that separates people…I think you will understand what I mean…but let us build bridges of understanding with all.
Prayer Walking Guide (Taking Prayer to the Streets)
John M. Bailey
Church Planting Group
North American Mission Board
As a young pastor, I made it a habit to visit each home in my small community on Saturday night — late at night. I usually began after 10:00 p.m. and would walk the streets of my community, stopping at each home to pray for that family. Because I knew them, I usually had plenty to pray. Their health… their salvation… family members… the list was endless. On many occasions I would sneak into their yard and lay hands upon their homes and cry out to God for a particular need. Why? Because I believe that when we work… we work. But when we pray… God works!
I am sure that prayer walking is not something new. People since the days of Christ have walked through their communities and lifted up the needs of the people. In some cases, missionaries coming into a new region have prayer walked the streets, seeking God’s guidance as they began serving in that region. I have heard of mission groups traveling around the globe to prayer walk communities where the gospel needed to be proclaimed. It is nothing new, and it can be done by anyone with a passion to see God work in their midst.
As we address the issue of prayer walking, we need to look at the following issues: Who can prayer walk? Where? What do they pray about? When? What can we expect from the Father? How can this ministry impact a church plant?
Let us begin by answering the question, “Who can be a prayer walker?” A simple answer is anyone who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. James 5:16, states, “The intense prayer of the righteous is powerful” (HCSB.) A church planter needs to give thought to this question early in his planning since, in the beginning, he and his family may be the only church members. When negotiating with his sponsoring church, he should seek their prayer support by asking that prayer-walking teams be sent on a regular basis. Be specific. Schedule dates and times as the relationship is being developed. Second, a church planter should recruit prayer walking teams to come as missionary teams. Do not discount the value of prayer walking. If a group is coming to your area to do backyard Bible clubs, be sure to have a group in the week before to prayer walk the area. You can post your need for prayer walking mission teams on NAMB’s website (http://thebridge.namb.net/) with the help of your local director of missions or state convention.
As your church grows and you have established families in your city, it would be good to examine the resource Lighthouse of Prayer from the North American Mission Board. This resource will assist your church in establishing strategically located prayer centers to intentionally pray for, care for, and share the gospel with individuals in their neighborhoods.
Once you have enlisted individuals to prayer walk, you must determine where to send them. If your plant is taking place in a specific geographical location, it makes sense to prayer walk the streets surrounding your physical location. Get a map of the area and divide your area into manageable zones. Mark the boundaries on the map. This will allow you to record your activity by zone and measure/chart the response accurately. This map will be a great resource later in your plant as you work in your community through servant evangelism, block parties, etc. As you consider your area, it is critical that you gain a deep understanding of your community. A great resource for accomplishing this is Probe II. This resource, from the North American Mission Board, guides you in the development of your ministry strategy by helping you identify unreached peoples in your community.
If your location has not been determined, it would be wise to begin prayer-walking areas in the community, which best match, your target audience. Again, it is important that you be strategic; and that you seek to identify the lostness in those areas which you prayer walk prior to the beginning of your activities. This would be a great activity to conduct with your sponsoring church.
Many people who have been asked to prayer walk ask, “What do I pray about? Who do I pray for?” First, start by praying for the area which you are about to walk. Ask God to guide you, to help you see the community through His eyes. Lift up your church plant, asking God to reveal the lostness of the area to you — that He would show you where to sow gospel seeds and where to build upon the works of others. Ask God to give you opportunities to share the gospel with individuals as you walk through the area and to help you identify a person of influence in the community.
Second, as you walk the streets, pray for each home you pass, asking God to meet their spiritual, physical, and emotional needs. Pray that each family member present would be receptive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, that their eyes would be open to the truth of God’s Word, and that He would reign as Lord of their lives. Thank the Lord for what He is going to do in and through these families!
Third, as you walk the streets, pray for yourself, asking God to help you to see the community as He sees it. Pray that He would provide you opportunities to talk with people, helping you to understand the needs of those whom call it home. This may be a great time for personal confession and renewal.
Fourth, as you walk the streets, pray for the Lord to send laborers into the harvest for this new church plant. Where will they come from? From the harvest!
Finally, pray for the leaders of the church plant and celebrate what God is going to do through their ministries.
I began this discussion by sharing that I prayer walked my community at night. This may not be the best time to prayer walk your community. My desire was to lift up the needs of my friends and neighbors privately. I felt a strong need to lay hands upon their homes. Doing this during the day may attract some attention… doing it in the evening may attract the police!
I would suggest that you walk when people are most likely to be outside. This may open opportunities to stop and converse with individuals, and would allow you to gain a better understanding of that community.
I believe that every church, in every community needs to prayer walk its community. Prayer moves the heart of God. It transforms us as we seek to see God transform our communities. It helps us identify where God is leading us to serve; and allows us to gain a fresh perspective, God’s view, of our community. Our physical presence in the community communicates with our neighbors that we care, that our church believes that prayer matters. It also communicates to our membership that everyone can get involved with the ministries of our church.
I heard of a church planter who developed a prayer walking strategy for his community that not only prayed for each home, it gathered specific prayer requests form those who lived in the homes. He went to a local printer and had them print door hangers in a bright color. On one side, he introduced himself, his church plant, and shared with them his desire to pray for each family. He asked them to record any prayer requests that they might have on the opposite side of the card and hang it on their doorknob before a certain time the next day. At the appointed hour, his intention was to walk through the community and collect the cards. Much to his surprise, many of his new neighbors were waiting for him outside their homes… some in lawn chairs, making sure that they would not miss him! People, even the lost, believe in the power of prayer. (Door hangers are available at http://www.blanksusa.com)
Resources: The North American Mission Board has Taking Prayer to the Streets available free of charge on its website in both English and Spanish. Visit http://www.NAMB.net and type the title of the resource in the search engine.
The State Convention of Baptists in Ohio has a free downloadable prayer-walking guide posted on their web site (www.scbo.org) in their evangelism section. Click on downloads.