My best prayerwalking technique came from second graders.
PRAYER | Cheryl Dorsey
Editor’s note: This is the fourth and final post in a series on prayer and spiritual awakening. Read the previous posts: 2015: The Year of Prayer, Revise us, O Lord, and 15 prayer requests for your city.
One of my most profound prayerwalks took place with a pair of 7-year-olds. On that particular Saturday at our church, everyone had already paired up for the half-hour walk through our community of 500 homes. Leaving me with my son, Joseph, and a friend’s grandson, Antoine.
On school days, waking Joseph up was an ordeal. But on prayerwalking Saturdays, he beat me at getting up and ready to head to church. Amazing! We use the simple strategy – walking the neighborhoods around our church in two’s and three’s – to identify needs in our community and pray on the spot for people we encounter, that they might come to know Christ.
Joseph, Antoine and I began to walk three blocks around the church. I launched into a powerful prayer: “Lord, let your salvation come to this house! Send your power, Father. Change hearts, O God!” When I paused to allow the babies to get a word in edgewise, I heard this:
“Lord, help this little boy to help his mommy clean the front yard.”
And another saying, “Jesus, please give the little boy in this house a new Big Wheel because his is broken.”
And then, “Jesus, help them get these beer bottles out of the yard. They shouldn’t be drinking, Lord! Help them to stop.”
Even though I was towering over my prayerwalking partners, I felt seven inches tall.
That morning, the Holy Spirit taught me what prayerwalking is all about. He used Joseph and Antoine to teach me again what it means to pray “on site with insight,” which is how we encourage all our prayerwalking teams. Here’s what it looks like for us:
Each session starts with a 15-minute meeting at the church. This is when we distribute prayer guides, go over prayerwalking basics, and point everyone to a focal Scripture that will set the stage for the next hour.
We send pray-ers out from the church in two’s and three’s, instructing them to go as far as they can and be back in half an hour. As they go, we urge them to pray “on site with insight.” That’s God’s insight and not their own.
Prayerwalkers pray as they’re prompted by the things they encounter. Every street is different. Our prayers should feel conversational, low-key, but powered from on high. If folks across or down the street can hear us, we’re doing it wrong.
Each person in the groups takes a turn praying in short paragraphs, not soliloquies. I like it to making a prayer quilt – everyone brings a piece. If we encounter people along the way, we introduce ourselves and ask if they have any prayer needs. If they say yes, we ask permission to pray for them right there. Or, we take the names and requests back to the church to add to our prayer list for the week.
During our walk, we may pray, quote Scripture, or sing, all as the Spirit prompts the pray-ers. Once everyone is back at the church, we take 15-20 minutes to recap the experience. This is very powerful! Prayerwalking teams share what they encountered and how the Lord had them praying, as well as names they’re adding to the prayer list. As the teams report, a scribe records the headlines on a flip chart, chalkboard, or poster.
The Lord reveals his awesomeness as our teams often see a theme emerge. Even though they prayed on different streets, they see how God loves the community, and works in us through the Holy Spirit to “pray things out” over our neighbors. The prayerwalkers recognize that God has a plan, that they can hear his voice, and that he can use them to bless his people.
That first day I prayerwalked with Joseph and Antoine, I witnessed our youngest pray-ers interceding from their perspective. They prayed for the practical and immediate needs of the house we were passing by, and they hit some spiritual pay dirt. From that point on, they were my favorite prayerwalking partners that summer. I mention them often when I teach, saying kids pray differently because they see things from a different level.
They blessed me, and showed me that children have a place in our prayerwalking ministry. You don’t need to pontificate, just walk, see and pray.
Cheryl Dorsey is a prayer coordinator and pastor’s wife at Beacon Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago Heights. She also serves as prayer leader for Chicago Metro Baptist Association. This column first appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Resource magazine, online at http://resource.IBSA.org.