Godís Arrival is Our Revival
An article on the vision and motivation of prayerwalking your community ...
especially among youth! By: Rick Carder
It is high noon on a Saturday. A handful of teens and three adults set out or an expedition. This is no ordinary exploration into uncharted terrain but rather an extraordinary expression of Godís Love to the City. The gang is adventurous!
Never having visited this part of the City of Chicago they set out with a willingness to learn and grow. Those in this expedition have a desire to express hope and blessing through a rather unusual evangelism strategy known as Prayerwalking. As this small team walks through the streets and alleys of Austin neighborhood, a community with in the City of Chicago, God begins to stir a revival spirit within this band of prayer-walkers. Prayer is the link and with each step hope is realized.
Prayerwalking is Godís strategy for evangelism. At first glance it appears that nothing is happening. No conversions, no preaching and no changes are taking place. Prayer seems so basic to our faith in Jesus that it is often overlooked, treated as an afterthought rather than an intentional fundamental basis for outreach. While the team walks through out a five-block area, people begin to pray aloud, letting what they see determine what they pray. Some pray for peace. Others pray for hope. One youth prayed for protection form evil and harm. Everyone hungers for God to do a great work in the neighborhood but soon realize that His work began in the hearts of the prayerwalkers. It seemed that everyone from the neighborhood were out walking or running errands but our hike had purpose beyond the day to day routine. One woman even stopped to talk with members of the team giving us an opportunity to pray for this grandmother and her teenage granddaughter. The whole conversation was rather natural and our prayer didnít appear out of place at all! It seemed that God was working on the community as well. The woman even invited us to her home and offered her place to stay if ever we were in need.
Prayerwalking is praying on-site with insight. Prayerwalking, as Steve Hawthone says, is Ďtaking our prayer closets to the streets.í It is Ďeveryday believers praying every day, house to houseí. Prayerwalking is blessing our city! There is nothing better than to bless our city with prayer not because prayer is the answer but because God is! Jesus sent out His workers in Luke 10 to every place where He was going to come. As they went out they were to bless each home with peace.
This small expedition resulted in our getting up close to the needs of people. We interceded for the needs by praying Godís promise for every home and for every person we see. It has been said that hope is not just a basic need but the most important need. Prayerwalking brings us up close to the need for hope! Something seems to be happening since a few went on this prayerwalking expedition. First, the team wanted to go again and we did go back. Second, others who heard about the testimony of the youth requested to go the next time. In fact, it stirred a small revival with in the church I pastor. There are people who have never prayerwalked wanting to be a part of this excitement.
The same thing happened in the previous community I was church planting at in Elkhart, Indiana. At first, there were only a few prayer-walkers and soon it grew to over 200 prayerwalkers. And those were just the ones we knew about! God used prayerwalking to help our city to agree in prayer, focus in prayer and guide us in prayer. We were able to prayerwalk our entire city, perimeter of the city and county and launch prayerwalking in five other cities. This concerted effort of praying on-site with insight resulted in an evangelism fruit like none we had need in years and it caused churches to catch the fire of revival. People heard the testimonies and wanted to be a part of Godís presence. Prayerwalking affirms Godís promises, gives opportunity to pray for people, opens our eyes to a lost world and renews our vision for hope in Christ Jesus. When the newspaper got hold of what was happening they published articles like, "Prayerwalking Efforts will take churches to the streets" and "People find reasons for prayer" and "Goal for Prayerwalking to bless city" and "Revival Signs? Christians see preparation: More walls fall, prayers rise." Imagine the interest and curiosity from readers who hunger for something positive to read in the paper.
Brian H. Edwards in his book, "Revival! A People Saturated with God" defines revival as "a community saturated with God." Taken from II Chronicles 29-30, Brian Edwards reminds us that Hezekiah prayed to the Lord, "you alone are God." (II Kings 19:15) Revival comes to the Church but it changes society. It seems that as Godís Spirit stirs the church that the church stirs that community. Revival bridges those within the church with those out side the church. It is those relationships that effectively produce evangelism. It is not manufactured tactics but genuine testimonies and prayer.
Can God bring hope to Chicago? In your city or town? Better asked is the question, "when?" Hope needs ushered in by Godís people. As we are affected by His presence so will the world be affected. It is true that whatever we do, it casts a lasting ripple in eternity. This ripple isnít very effective until it lands on shore where it causes a wave to splash over the land.
You can be who God is calling into a prayer ministry like Prayerwalking. Maybe you are like me when I first prayerwalked. I was needing a vision of compassion for my community. I picked up the book "Prayerwalking: Praying On-site with Insight" by Steve Hawthorne and read through it. In fact, I read through it twice with in just a few days. The book inspired me and motivated me to Ďjust do ití! Prayerwalking opened my eyes to the need and my heart for the harvest. How I started was first I prayerwalked my neighborhood. I was alone at first. Soon I begin to invite others to join me. I purchased some books for others to read and asked people to circulate the books around. I asked people I knew and who were already praying at church or in my prayer group but needed a deeper challenge to take prayer outside their walls. In fact, I discovered that they were hungry for more just like me. Soon I invited other fellow Pastors and made plans for our churches to get together in this. Eventually we were two-hundred prayerwalkers strong. Not that the number of walkers mattered because God was just as into my walking alone as He was with our larger gathering. However, we were able to cover more ground and more people gained a vision too! The next step for you might be to simply read the book by Steve Hawthorne. It might be that youíve read the book already so the next would naturally be for you to start Prayerwalking and now is a good time!
Eventually, you may feel God tugging on your heart to involve others in this. I contacted the National Office of the March for Jesus at their web site, http://www.mfj.org and found the site for Prayerwalking. I registered our efforts with them and have now chosen three zip code area to prayerwalk. I have taught my youth group and our mentors about Prayerwalking and have taken them out on our expeditions. We reported to the church body what has happened and others want to join us. It isnít hard to promote something with the enthusiasm of teens. God is in this and that keeps us motivated to do it again!
My next step is to contact the Prayerwalking coordinator in my area and get involved with others in this effort. God honors the unity of the Body! If there isnít a leader for your area, maybe that leader is you!
Seek God for your city. Be an intercessor for your community and watch
God work. After all, God is looking for those who will Bless your community
Rick Carder, Wheaton Wesleyan Church, Pastor of Student Ministries
Wheaton, Illinois 60187
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