One of the practices that characterizes most of the church planting movements I’m familiar with is an emphasis on prayer walking. It is a core component of the process that results in rapidly multiplying disciples. If the Lord leads us to start a church in a certain neighborhood, we do well to prepare the ground by prayer walking.
When we started a church in the low income housing projects, the first thing we did was to prepare the ground in prayer.
In Matthew 12, Jesus gives an illustration in his defense against an attack by the Pharisees. They accused him of casting out demons by the power of the devil. He replied, “How can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his goods.” (verse 29)
Who is the strong man Jesus refers to here? It is Satan or one of his minions. What are his goods? It’s the people who he’s taken captive.
In Joshua 1:3, God tells Joshua that he will give him every place where he sets his feet. There is something about praying “on site with insight” that prepares the way for the Lord to come.
What does prayer walking consist of?
- We survey the land: When Moses sent the spies into the land of Canaan, he was effectively doing a spiritual survey of the land before they went in (Numbers 13:1-25). We walk the area taking note of anything of spiritual significance and asking the Lord for wisdom and understanding as to what is going on in the area.
- We ask the Lord for his plan for the area
- We establish a prayer team: Jesus sent out the disciples two by two, praying as they went.
- We physically walk the area. As we do so we are praying that God will reclaim the area:
- We praise and thank God and bless the area and the people who live there. We bless everyone who impacts the area–the police, the education system, etc.
- We pray for the welfare of the people who live there. In Jeremiah 29:7, the people of Israel were told to pray for the peace and prosperity of Babylon, even though it was the land where they were held in captivity.
- We demolish the strongholds that are there. Jesus has all authority, and he has given us that authority to bind the demonic powers that hold the people who live in that area. We use spiritual weapons to overcome these demonic powers.
- We repent for the problems of the area. We are priests, and as such, can pray for the redemption of the people of the area.
Psalm 2:8 says, “Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance and the ends of the earth as your possession.
Photo credit: Stef Lewandowski (Creative Commons)
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4 replies on “Prayer walking”
Sounds like a very good plan to me–Put it into the hands of the Lord and then be the vessel to have it carried out.
I love this, Felicity! I was part of a Moms in Prayer group that did this around our kids’ schools a long time ago. A great reminder to think about where it should be done in other areas!
Try as I might I really cannot understand what ‘prayer walking’ is all about. I can’t find it in my Bible anywhere. It appears to be something invented by evangelicals a few decades ago. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with it ‘per se’, but it seems to have become a new evangelical ‘distinctive’. What does the phrase ‘prepare the ground in prayer’ mean? If you mean pray for the people in a defined area, then why not say that? Why start talking in mystical terms like ‘preparing the ground’ and ‘demolishing strongholds’? What’s all that about?
I am not at all convinced by your selection of Bible verses trying to build a ‘theology’ of prayer walking. Matthew 12 has been taken out of context – it isn’t about ‘prayer walking’. Joshua 1:3 is about the people of Israel taking hold of the promised land. Not ‘prayer walking’ around it. Number 13 was NOT a ‘spiritual survey’ – they were spying out the opposition physically before invasion. Jesus sent the disciples out two by two to spread the gospel to villages ahead of Jesus’s arrival. Yes they walked. Yes, they no doubt prayed. But I still wouldn’t regard it as a ‘prayer walk’. Jeremiah 29:7 isn’t anything to do with ‘prayer walking’ either! And Psalm 2:8 isn’t either! Using this sort of logic I could conclude that you have to walk around an area seven times AND blow trumpets to ensure that the ‘strongholds are demolished’ as in the account Joshua and the walls of Jericho.
I have often criticised the ‘institutional church’ for its practice of taking selected verses out of context to support a traditional, long cherished practice which has no true Biblical warrant. Your writings are usually characterised by examining scripture to see what it really says. However, I’m sorry to say that I think this post has lapsed into bad practice – looking for verses here and there to build a theology defending a practice which may be loved and cherished, but which simply isn’t there in scripture. Its sits alongside church buildings, sermons, salaried single pastors doing all the ministering, Sunday schools, clerical vestments, clergy – laity distinctions, flag waving, confessionals, liturgies, etc .
I’m happy to be corrected on this, but just can’t see this commanded or commended in Scripture.
I hold Paul Goodwin’s view and would like to offer an exert written by T.A. McMahon from the June 1998 issue of the Berean- Call:
” The Bible teaches us everything we need to know about prayer; and if a doctrine or practice regarding prayer is not found in, or is imposed upon, the Scriptures, we can be sure it’s not from the Lord – no matter how right it may seem. There are three basic questions we must ask to help us discern the truth or error of any spiritual teaching :
1) Is it taught directly in God’s Word? 2) Is it presented indirectly, especially by way of example in lives of believers found in the Scriptures? 3) Can the doctrine, even when not directly stated(e.g., the Trinity), be clearly and substantially supported by the Scriptures? A no or an unconvincing or wishful yes to these questions is a strong indicator that the teaching should be rejected as unbiblical.”
I would encourage believers to read a back copy of this issue titled Prayer Gone Awry