Archives For prayerwalking

By Andrew Woodrow

Pingree Grove prayerwalking

Pingree Grove,” Tim Bailey said, “is a small town in desperate need of a church.”
Situated in the far western suburbs of Chicago, just west of Elgin, Pingree Grove was once a small farming community with less than 200 residents. The markers were a tiny white clapboard church that would close, and a cemetery. That was in the year 2000. Now, this rapidly developing city is expected to grow to over 15,000 people by 2020. The residents live in neighborhoods sprawling across what were once cornfields, and they commute to work in the suburbs and the city.

But this burgeoning bedroom community had no church.

“During a visit to Pingree Grove, I recognized there was nothing of a spiritual nature there,” said Bailey, an IBSA church planting catalyst in northern Illinois. “But as I prayerwalked in that community, I recognized that there was something special there—something that God wanted to do.”

Bailey was praying and walking the area last summer when he had an idea. Several groups of teens from all over Illinois were coming to Chicagoland for a week in July to assist church planters. Calling on Ken Wilson, his IBSA counterpart from southern Illinois, Bailey put forth his plan.

“He said, ‘I want to plant a church in four days, and they say that we can’t do that,’” Wilson recalled. “And the last thing you want to tell a southern Illinois redneck is that you can’t do something. So, I wanted to be part of something that only God can do.”

“For the first time we decided instead of going and helping a church planter,” Bailey said of the usual summer projects teaming teens and planters in Chicagoland, “we were going to attempt to plant a church with just 11 people in four days.”

The 11 people included several teens from First Baptist Church in far south Metropolis, led by associate pastor Cliff Easter, and the students from Clarksville Baptist Church in central Illinois with their youth leader, Leslie Propst.

The group divided into groups of two and prayerwalked Pingree Grove, knocking on more than 650 doors in those four days. They prayed for the people in the community, asking the Lord to save the lost, connect them with people looking for a church, and to help develop friendships in Jesus’ name. And they invited the people to a Bible study on Thursday night.

MIO Logo 500pxAs church planting catalysts, Wilson and Bailey are part of a partnership between IBSA and the North American Mission Board. Gifts to the Mission Illinois Offering help provide support services for these church planting missionaries, allowing them to recruit and train men who will plant and pastor new churches in some of the 200 places in Illinois where IBSA has identified the need for new congregations. With Mission Illinois as both a goal and a calling, IBSA seeks to establish evangelistic, gospel-teaching churches within easy reach of every lost person in Illinois.

“The Lord granted us immense favor,” Wilson said. “We met many people interested in knowing more about a church plant possibility, and a few more who even recommitted their lives to Christ.” The superintendent of a local school gave them permission to have a meeting there. Four families attended, Bailey said, and that was the start of a church.

But we need a leader
“We were far from finished,” Wilson said, “We prayed for Pingree Grove, that God would send a church planter to lead where we began.” Little did they know, God had begun his work in Pingree Grove three years earlier.

R. T. Maldaner and his family of eight had moved to Illinois from Idaho. Maldaner was serving in a church staff position in Elgin, but he sensed the Lord leading him to plant a church. “But we really didn’t know where,” Maldaner said.

His desire for church planting was encouraged by a mentor who told him that he had the DNA of a church planter. “He told me of IBSA’s need for solid, gospel-centered men to plant solid, gospel-centered churches,” Maldaner said, “and he then connected me with a gentleman from IBSA by the name of Tim Bailey.”

In January, six months after that summer outreach, the two met at Starbucks in South Elgin. “Tim and I were sitting down drinking coffee,” Maldaner said, “talking about my desire to church plant when he asks me his final question for the interview: ‘Where do you live?’”

When Maldaner said, “Pingree Grove,” Bailey pounded the table and yelled, “Praise the Lord!”

“R.T.,” Bailey told him, “we have been walking around Pingree Grove, and driving around Pingree Grove, and praying around Pingree Grove for a year that God would send us a church planter for Pingree Grove.”

One month later, Maldaner started a gathering. Since that Sunday, 150 people have attended faithfully, Bailey said, “and we have yet to begin the major push in encouraging people to come.”

Maldaner recognizes that the “Lord has orchestrated a miraculous thing….Knowing that our church isn’t a church plant in isolation, knowing that we have IBSA and a plethora of other brothers standing alongside us and helping us is a very liberating feeling.”
The church, called City of Joy, is set to launch officially on September 9.

“It is nothing we did,” Bailey insists, “It was only because of prayer, and more prayer, and even more prayer, that God decided to open the door to this church.”

Wilson remains invigorated by the experience of prayerwalking for a church plant. “I see God wanting to do this in multiple places, even rural areas across Illinois…Because he wants to touch Illinois (even more) than we want to reach it.”

A call to prayer
Please encourage your church to pray for state missions during the Mission Illinois Offering & Week of Prayer, September 9-16. Pray especially for church planting across the state, to reach more than 8 million people here who do not know Jesus Christ as Savior. Pray for Church Planting Catalysts Tim Bailey, Ken Wilson, and other members of the IBSA Church Planting Team. And pray for R.T. Maldaner as he leads the new City of Joy Church in Pingree Grove.

Walking

One thing I love about summer is the opportunity for long walks. Beth and I have a three-mile circuit that takes us from our house down to a nearby lake and back. Usually we walk it after dinner, but before dark, with our blind dog Willy. Our nest of three sons is empty now, and so we have just this one furry kid to follow us around.

It’s not really the walk itself that I value, though. It’s what happens there. By the time we walk, Beth and I have usually taken dinnertime to catch up with one another on the day’s events, and what arrived in the mail, and what we each heard from friends or family that day.

The walk is for deeper talk. That’s when we tend to discuss longer term plans for the future, or longer view reflections on where we’ve been. We talk not just about our kids’ activities, but about their well-being and their life decisions. We talk not just about short-term purchases, but about long-term investments. We talk not just about our church routines, but about our spiritual lives.

It usually takes a while to get past perfunctory, obligatory prayers I tend to settle for when time is short.

Sometimes our local son, Caleb, and his wife, Laura, walk with us. Those are rich times. Often Laura will walk alongside Beth and engage in one conversation, while Caleb and I will pair up a few steps behind them. Sometimes the two conversations will blend, and mix, and then separate again. We all like to hear as much as possible.

But these aren’t the 10- or 20-word texts we exchange with our kids during the day. These are often significant conversations about problems, and dreams, and life decisions, and dilemmas. Long walks encourage deeper talks.

And then there are the long walks I take by myself, to have deeper talks with God. Sometimes I make time for them during the regular routine of life. But often I need a vacation or a few days off or a different setting in order to pull away.

During the regular rhythms and busyness of life, my prayer times can grow so brief, so repetitive, so lightweight. Like the chitchat of a dinner conversation or the insufficiency of a text, I can settle for such trivial communication with God. But when I walk for a while with him it’s easier to remember that he really knows and loves me in my deepest, innermost parts, and that he longs to meet me there too, and not just in the shallows of a busy life.

Over a few recent days of long walks and deep talks this summer, I remembered again that it usually takes a while just to get past the perfunctory, obligatory prayers that I tend to settle for when time is short. I know there’s nothing wrong with those prayers, just like there’s nothing wrong with catching up over dinner on the day’s activities. It’s just that there are so many more significant things to talk about. But you only seem to get there when you take the time.

This past week I walked and talked to places of deep confession, and pleading, and worship, and peace. Once the lighter weight stuff was off my chest, there were several minutes and miles of silence as I looked for the right words to tell God things I then remembered that he knows already. Yet when those words came, they were cathartic and soothing to my soul.

Long walks can lead to deep talks, with our spouses, our kids, and yes, our God. May you find time for the long walks you need this summer.

– Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org.

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.