PHOENIX (BP) -- Spring's warm weather is finally here, and it's a great time for a walk. While you're at it, why not make it a prayerwalk?
Prayerwalking presents a unique paradigm for intercession. Instead of praying over and over again for the same list of needs as we often do, a prayerwalker needs to literally "stay on his toes" in expectancy.
Careful observation is the key to a successful prayerwalk.
Prayerfully observe as you walk. One house might have a star in the window indicating a son or daughter serving overseas. Another might be in disrepair with an overgrown lawn. What about that wheelchair ramp leading to the front door? One apartment might have heavy metal music blaring and the one next to it Spanish music coming from an open window.
Each home is a unique thread in the fabric of your community. Each one has specific prayer needs. Each person is deeply loved by God.
In a very real sense, every street's layout becomes our dynamic, ever-changing prayer list.
If there is a school on the street, prayer needs to be lifted up for the children's safety, for wisdom and protection for the staff and teachers and, certainly, for salvation.
Businesses require prayer for honest scales, for salvation of the employees and management and for the expansion of God's Kingdom through generosity of time and resources.
Individual homes, apartment complexes, gated communities and churches require intercession according to their particular challenges and needs.
If you walk by a church, pray for the pastor's strength and faithfulness. He'd probably appreciate prayer for his family as well.
Even empty lots, playgrounds and the street itself are motives for prayer. Any place where children play, youth congregate and traffic passes should be cause for Christians to raise their voices in intercession.
I like to call this praying according to the "social topography" of our neighborhoods. Effective intercession requires more than a "one size fits all prayer."
Don't forget to include recent news in your prayerwalk. Has there been an outbreak of local crime? Have recent business closings caused a spike in unemployment? What does the latest demographic information say about the racial and socio-economic status of your neighborhood? All of this is "actionable prayer intelligence."
Although the prayer needs which we encounter on a prayerwalk are many, the biblical principles of prayer remain the same. All our prayer should be undergirded by a passion to see God's Kingdom come and His will be done in our neighborhood as it is in heaven.
Before preaching in Athens, the apostle Paul walked throughout the city, observing that the streets were cluttered with idols and shrines to every god imaginable. To make sure the Athenians didn't miss anyone, they erected an idol to "the Unknown God." This information that Paul gathered during his stroll greatly influenced the content of his preaching.
Similar careful observation of our neighborhoods should influence the content of our intercession. Just as it is always better to listen before speaking, it is advisable to observe before praying.
Ralph Tone is a Phoenix-based church partner with LifeWay Christian Resources in the western United States. He blogs at RalphTone.com. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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