“How can the church be missional when we’re on locked-down?” I have heard this question asked over and over on Zoom Calls with pastors and leaders from all around the world.
With the most recent executive orders, our outdoor activities are limited to only the essentials. Thankfully, we can still exercise outside! Our family is now walking several times a day not only to stay healthy but to stay sane. In a house of six, walking is really the only time we can escape each other! 🙂 Here’s a question for you: What if we combined walking with praying. Both are essential. The result is a powerful missionary practice called prayer walking.
What is Prayer Walking?
Praying walking is inspired by the passage when Jesus saw the crowds, “he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).As we prayer walk, we begin to see and feel like Jesus. Steve Hawthorne, one of the co-editors of the Perspectives Reader, defines prayer walking this way:
- Praying On-Site with Insight. It’s out-of-your-house intercessory prayer. Walking through your neighborhood will help you prayer clearer as you drawer nearer to God. As you walk, you may see, hear, smell, or touch a small portion of the lives around you, and this will aid your understanding of their needs. One person put his experience this way, “I never noticed my community as a place of mission until I prayer walked it on my way home for the first time.”
- Praying with a Low Profile. Prayer Walking is not meant to draw attention to yourself. Once in a while, you be prompted to pray out loud, but usually pray walking is being one the scene without making one.
- Praying with High Hopes. Prayer walking is going to the very places where we expect God to bring His blessings and then asking Him for them. As we join our walking and praying, God will begin to give us His eyes to see how He sees our communities, and give us His heart so we can feel what He feels for our neighbors.
What is the Impact of Prayer Walking?
After I shared this article with our Missional Community leaders, several shared how God how worked through prayer walking. One leader said: “My family pray walked a particular street then 30 days later a massive tornado barrelled through our town. It went down the exact street our family prayer walked. Not a single person lost their lives although the street was completely destroyed.”
Here is another story: “I live in an area where the houses are very spread out. The 2nd time I prayer walked I put on your meditation music to get me started and I felt my spirit uplifted. One of my neighbors who has lived here for 12 years pulled up into his driveway just before I walked by and got out of his car. I said hello and waved. I expected him to wave back but instead, he waved and asked how I was doing. Surprised I took off my headphones and we had a discussion. He opened up about some really personal stuff. Mind you I have only had hellos for 12 years with him and I don’t even know his name… he proceeded to tell me his only child a son is mentally challenged and goes to a special school… Now I know what to pray for them. His son may have never had anyone pray for him before. Can you imagine? Before the walk ended I talked with 3 more neighbors mind you there are only 8 houses I go by on this walk.”
How to Prayer Walk?
There is not a set format.
If you have never prayer walked before and like an example, here’s what I do. I divide up my walk into thirds and follow the UP, IN, and OUT rhythm.
UP: Worshipping God
In the first part of my walk, I start my prayer walk listening to worship music. As a DJ, I have a playlist for everything; here’s what I listen to:
I walk quietly at first, looking around me and inviting the Spirit to focus my heart and mind on Him. When I am focused, I begin worshipping God this way:I pray prayers of praise and thanksgiving, worshipping God for who He is and what He has done and continues to do.If the Spirit prompts me of any fears of sins, I confess them and receive the Father’s forgiveness in Jesus’ finished work.
IN: Praying for Personal & Spiritual Family
Then I switch my music to something more meditative. Here’s my playlist:
For about 10 minutes, I pray for those close to me: I pray for each person in my household by name.I pray for my extended family and close friends. I pray for my church family and leaders.
OUT: Interceding for Neighbors & Nation
In the last part of my walk, I intercede for our neighbors and nation in this way: I ask God to give insight into His plans for your community and that He will place you in them. I ask for open doors to love & serve the people of my community. I ask for the conversion of my neighbors I intercede for our local, state, and national leaders, asking God to protect them and give them wisdom. I ask that God would bring revival to my neighborhood, city, and nation!
Allow me to lift our eyes to the horizon…
Is God Doing a Deeper Work?
Revivals in the past have almost always occurred during times of great disruption and social upheaval. Wouldn’t we all agree that COVID-19 is an international disruption? And yet God has restricted us in what we can do in quarantine season. And the main thing we can do is pray.
Could it be that a revival would come out of this time of disruption? I am praying for an unprecedented movement of God in our time. Let me submit to you that our time of quarantine is a season of incubation. A seed planted in the ground takes time to incubate before it germinates and grows. And prayer is the heart of incubation.
One last thought: every time you go prayer walking, you are sowing seeds of revival. So be encouraged with every step you take in faith and prayer is one step closer to a healed world.