By Rev Michael Brantley, Wellington Cathedral of St Paul
Prayer walking – It’s as simple as it sounds!
Praying as you walk has been a practice of Christians for millenia! When we prayer walk we are stepping into our authority as God’s children to bless people and places in Jesus’ name. This simple task is a great way to bring transformation to your local community by asking God to break in.
Here’s how to get started
1: Know your local area
Know the places and people that make up your local community. What jobs do people do? What ethnicities and social classes live in your area? How many sacred buildings are there?
2: Know local people
Find out what the needs are in your local community by speaking to those in your area. Listen, ask great questions, care! Know them by name, learn their stories – even strangers, pray for them as they pass you! Understand the physical need, the emotional need and discern the spiritual need… Read on!
3: Know local needs
Are there problems with unemployment, crime or poverty in your area? You could put all of this information onto a physical map of your community, or write it down in one place. Begin journals and possibly have sections that are focused on prayer walking. This will help inform your prayers, and you can add to it the more you prayer walk.
4: Get prayer walking
The core of prayer walking is conversing with God; ask Him to show you what He sees; to know His heart for your community. Intercede and ask God to move and for people to know and follow Him, for Him to transform lives!
Here are some practical suggestions on how to prayer walk effectively:
- If in twos and threes or more, start and end together.
Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs. It’s not as intimidating as a large group, and is safer than people going on their own. If you have a larger group, breaking into pairs can help you to pray for different parts of your area. If you go alone, or best pray alone, great. There is a compelling power in going together though! If you are moved to pray for a more rural area, pray as you drive it – every road (plan your routes!). Stop at key points that encapsulate the area’s identity or key places where people gather.
Agree a place and time to start prayer walking and talking to God together. Begin by explaining why you’ve gathered to pray, and share specific prayer points, if relevant. If splitting into smaller groups, then agree a place and time to end together.
- Plan a route, or just go?
You can plan ahead to ensure that you pray for specific places, or simply ask the Holy Spirit to guide your time. Consider where you’re praying today, or this week and break it up if large. Consider repeating over your area over and over. Daniel interceded three days before Michael, the Archangel, arrived due to spiritual resistance. Persevere!
- Use your natural and supernatural senses
As you prayer walk, be aware of your surroundings: what you see, smell, hear and touch. But also be aware of what God is saying to you as you move around your community; if any Bible verses pop into your head or if you have any pictures, visions or words of knowledge. Turn these natural and supernatural senses into prayer.
- Whether silently or out loud, PRAY!
The point of prayer walking isn’t about being seen praying; it’s about seeing and praying. You can pray quietly together or in silence if it makes you feel more comfortable. However, don’t be afraid to speak out prayers if you feel compelled to.
As you prayer walk, the focus is on those who are living in your community so be intentional about praying for God’s blessings on what you see and feel.
Even in difficult areas, try to pray positively. Focus on God’s plans and purposes for the place and people that live there. Pray that God would heal hurts, families, economics and especially pray for them to know, experience and enter into transforming relationships with Christ and His church… that they might be saved, might know Him, might become harvesters also! “Your Kingdom come, your will be done…” is an excellent start.
- Ending well
If you’ve prayed in different places, meet up at the end to share what you’ve prayed and heard from God. Maybe write down what you share so that you can keep track of how to pray for your area.
Invite others to come along for a one-off experience and then see if God begins moving in them to also pray with you, join you and how you might replicate new groups/pairs of people also praying! Always mentor and grow those behind you as we disciple one another in following Him.
- Building habits!
After your prayer walk, keep praying for your community. You might like to arrange specific prayer meetings or further prayer walks for your area. Prayer walking is also a way of claiming a specific area for God. When Joshua and the army were claiming Jericho, God instructed them to walk around the city for six days, and seven times on the seventh day.
Why not make your walk a physical prayer by repeating it for a week, or weekly for a month, longer? As you keep praying, continue to ask for God’s blessing in your area; praying for God’s kingdom to come and His Will to be done in your area. If you feel that God is highlighting specific needs or challenges, think about how to take action; how could you and your Church be part of God’s solution practically, as well as prayerfully?
I don’t claim to be superior in my prayers. I simply speak honestly! I also pray languishing like the little elderly lady who continually petitions the Magistrate for justice. At times, it’s so earnest, so deep, I don’t have words, or it is mere phrases, or reduced to one word repeated. It’s not magic though! I just pray. I recall a season with a lot of loss, pain and confusion. Written prayers and meditations, worship through Scripture, e.g. Psalms, became my life blood. They kept me when I could not keep them! This grew my prayer habit. I now believe prayer is a major part of my contribution to the tapestry of the church – just praying. I pray a set rhythm, in prayer retreats, on prayer walks, as I drive, immediately before and after situations.
I now have a rhythm of prayer seven times per day. I’m not super spiritual – I have alarms in my phone! That’s about every two hours. I’m not special, just practiced and it’s what I need to move forward, to refocus me, to sustain me. Some of it is just listening or worship. Sometime it’s getting right with Him, aligning my heart with His. Then of course there are a couple of times a day when I focus intercession, asking God to move to act, and do!
Part of my regular rhythm is actually prayer walking. I do it at least twice a week and strive to do it more. Sometimes it’s as short as 30 minutes if time is tight. Yet it might be 2-4 hours as well. I grew in my passion and love for prayer walking, praying for people, ministry, people I long to come to know Him, for a neighbourhood, whomever God has pass me, for bigger issues around the globe – no shortage there! I also simply spend time with God personally, and sometimes all I pray is the weighty prayer of “Your Kingdom Come!” BUT as I walk the business district, or neighbourhoods, parks, etc, I walk those places asking God to bring a harvest, to protect and free a locality from oppression of various types.
I want to encourage you – us – to consider prayer walking – individually, with a friend or two, your spouse…or alone! We say we want God to effectively do real spiritual work in our Diocese. 2 Corinthians 6.1 reminds us we are part of God’s work, co-labourers, partners in the ministry. Our weapons are prayer! It’s work AND God does move. What I can tell you is that if you see me out in your neighbourhoods walking, you can bet I’m out prayer walking. It has fostered a love and conviction for our town. Sometimes I drive up to a vista see the entire region and pray over it. Taking action builds conviction. During this short few weeks of Your Kingdom Come, let’s commit and join in additional prayer, as a life group, families, personally, congregations, the parish and the church across Wellington – let us pray “Your Kingdom Come!”
Expectantly and with you!