We had only met the day before, but there we were—a Filipina and a Texan standing in a village on the outskirts of a strictly Muslim city. We had a singular purpose in common, though, when we each flew in to prayer walk the city along with a few other women. Together, we prayed for the Lord to make his name known among the people who lived in this city.
What Is Prayer Walking?
Prayer walking is exactly what the words imply: walking and praying. Prayer walking has been described as “praying on site with insight.” When you hear the sounds and see the sights of a particular place, you understand better how to pray for the people in that location.
“When you hear the sounds and see the sights of a particular place, you understand better how to pray for the people in that location.”
For example, you can read a magazine article about a city that is rigidly Islamic. That, however, is very different than walking the streets of that same city and seeing Islamic writings on every lamppost, qur’anic scripture verses posted in the windows, and hearing the call to prayer over loudspeakers five times every day.
On a prayer walk, you might smell the freshness of a recent tropical rain and ask God to refresh the land with his Word. You might hear children laughing and pray that God would show himself even to the young people of the area. Prayer walkers must be sensitive to all that is going on around them, which will help them pray with insight. That includes being ready to speak to or pray with people they encounter along the way.
A few years have passed since I joined the Filipina ladies who prayed to the Lord of the harvest for workers in that difficult location. Since then I am happy to report that the Lord has answered those prayers. More Christian workers have come to plant their lives among the people in the area. Despite hardships like loneliness, suspicion, and health issues, God’s people persevere for the sake of sharing the gospel.
Prayer Knows No Boundaries
The work among Muslims continues to benefit from the prayer walkers from the WMU of the Philippines as they continue to walk the roads of cities, praying on behalf of the people. I can’t help but wonder what might our churches in America do to join the exciting work of spreading the gospel among the people of Southeast Asia and in our own neighborhoods?
“Prayer walkers must be sensitive to all that is going on around them, which will help them pray with insight.”
You may feel the desire to join a prayer walking group. You may feel that your part is to pray for people you will never meet. And if you do, you’ll have a special partnership with results only eternity will tell.
What about your own neighborhood? Could you invite a friend to join you in walking the streets of your neighborhood? Regardless of where we live, there are people all around us who need prayer.
Five Things to Remember When Prayer Walking
- Be alert.
If you prayer walk with a partner, don’t get distracted by conversation with each other. It’s helpful to agree ahead of time that you will keep conversation to a minimum to keep the focus on prayer. You might want to meet beforehand or gather to debrief after your walk, but the time you set aside for prayer walking should be focused on just that.
- Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
Just as your five senses gather information from your surroundings, remember to keep your heart open to what the Holy Spirit is telling you as well. Perhaps you feel impressed to stop and talk to someone or to go down a new street. Listen to and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit as you go.
- Be ready.
You may encounter someone who needs prayer or is willing to engage in a spiritual conversation with you. Be ready to interact with those around you. Ask your pastor about evangelism training if you haven’t been trained already. Be willing to ask people if you can pray for them. Find out what is heavy on their heart and be ready to listen and pray. If people are not open to letting you pray right there—or if you’re not in an environment where you can openly pray because of government restrictions or persecution—you can still assure them that you will pray for them later.
- Be a doer.
You can’t really learn to prayer walk unless you just do it. Even if you feel apprehensive or you don’t feel that you can wrap your mind around it, go ahead and try it. As your team debriefs, you may learn better ways to prayer walk that you can implement in your next walk. As a team, you can begin marking a map so you can see the areas you have prayer walked. But don’t stop at marking maps. Put your shoes on and put yourself in the neighborhoods.
- Be on the lookout for God at work.
Make your prayer walk an opportunity for thanking the Lord. Be assured that you didn’t beat God into the neighborhood. He has been there working long before you arrived. What an awesome privilege we have to join God as he draws people to himself.
Shelley Stott loves to travel and write. She serves with her husband and three sons in Southeast Asia.