This is possibly the most significant idea in this collection. To prepare the ground for outreach by prayer. Here is a simple guide to Prayer Walking.
- We do not have to be in a church building for God to answer our prayers.
- We do not need to be on our knees or have our eyes closed for God to answer our prayers.
- The more we know about other people and can empathise with their needs the easier we find it to pray meaningfully for them.
The first account of prayer walking comes from as early as 467 AD! Following a series of devastating events that plagued the local people, the Bishop of the town of Vienne in France instituted processions around the town’s perimeter, in order to seek God’s blessing on the inhabitants. The celebration of the ‘Rogantide’ (from the Latin rogatio to ‘intercede’, ask or beseech) probably reached England around the 8th Century as part of the Roman Church’s calendar of festivals.
In the Middle Ages “beating the bounds” of the parish became a major event in the church year. Led by the priest, the faithful would walk around the boundaries of the parish with banners depicting the saints, chanting from the Scriptures and erecting stone crosses at intersections with other parishes. During each pause at a boundary mark the priest would give a blessing and pray for the people. For particularly large parishes these processions might take several days!
The people would also literally “beat the bounds” with branches. This did not merely mark the perimeter of the parish. They believed that doing so would drive demons out of the parish so they would no longer trouble the people. Their seemingly strange practices may well show us an important truth.
Proclaiming Christ’s victory – claiming the ground
Beyond asking God’s blessing, listening to God and expressing our faith, prayer walking is also an activity of spiritual warfare. The experience of churches in many parts of the world suggests that some places can be particularly influenced by evil spirits as a result of activities there in the past or present. (See the Bible Basis below)
`The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.’ (1 John 3:8) Part of prayer walking is simply praising God and declaring Jesus’s victory over all the powers of evil. We also seek the Spirit’s guidance in discerning whether evil powers have any claim over any particular places or people. This is one way we fulfil Jesus’s commission to His church, not only to proclaim the gospel but also to bring healing and deliverance. As you go, preach this message: `The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. (Matthew 10:7-8)
Bible Basis: Satan is `the prince of this world’ (Jn 12:31), `the God of this age (who) has blinded the minds of unbelievers’ (2 Cor 4:4). The tenth plague of the deaths of the firstborn was in God’s words `judgement on all the gods of Egypt’ (Exod 12:12). Daniel 10:12-13 and the opposition of `the prince of Persia’ to God’s angel implies an evil spirit controlling an area. There may well have been demons behind the earthly kings of Babylon and Tyre (Isa 14:12-14, Ezek 28:12-16). The demons in Legion seemed to fear being sent out of `their’ region (Mark 5:1-20). Pergamum was the place `where Satan’s throne is’ (Rev 2:13). The Old Testament teaches that the sins of the fathers will be visited on the children (Lev 26:39, Jer 32:18) even to the fourth generation ( Exod 20:5, 34:7, Num 14:18) sometimes perhaps by demons gaining a hold on families. Curses and spells have real power, as did the false gods of Israel’s enemies.
You can read more about spiritual warfare and territorial spirits in:
C.Peter Wagner Territorial Spirits (Sovereign World 1991) and
Breaking Strongholds in Your City (Monarch 1993)
He also edited Wrestling with Dark Angels and Engaging the Enemy
See also John Dawson Taking our Cities for God
Praying God’s blessing on the homes you pass
We believe that praying for people works. More than that, we also believe that Christians can declare God’s blessings on each other and on the community. In the priesthood of all believers, every Christian is empowered to act as God’s representative and proclaim God’s blessing. Jesus sent out the Twelve (Matt 10:5-15) and the Seventy-two (Luke 10:1-12) to heal, to minister deliverance and to preach the gospel.
Jesus commanded them in Luke 10:5,“When you enter a house, first say, `Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.”
In prayer walking we can both pray for the homes we pass and also proclaim God’s peace and blessing upon them.
Listening to God as you walk
God gives spiritual gifts of prophecy, discernment, knowledge and wisdom to His church. The Holy Spirit at work in every Christian allows all of us to hear God’s voice and be led by Him. So part of prayer walking is listening to God so that we will know more precisely what to pray for (Romans 8:26-27). We also listen for specific guidance about the approach we should take to evangelism, and for discernment about the presence of evil in particular places.
Prayer as an exercise in faith
All prayer is an exercise in faith. For people who like to be busy, and may be tempted to put our trust in human activity, prayer is particularly important as a demonstration that we really believe Zechariah 4:6:
`Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.
We might actually find it easier to deliver leaflets or knock on doors. We could be tempted into thinking that those things would achieve more. But prayer walking is an expression of our faith in God and a recognition that only the Holy Spirit can bring people to Christ!
Joshua 6 tells us of the “battle of Jericho” – a battle which the Israelites did not need to fight because God gave them the victory. But the Israelites were not passive there. They were obedient. Even when they did not understand what God was commanding them to do, they trusted and they obeyed. Some people may begin prayer walking as an expression of faith and obedience. And God will honour that!