Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Taking Prayer to the Streets

But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. (Matt. 6:6 )

Why would we seem to disobey Jesus’ clear direction for private prayer by prayer walking Longview/Kelso? In Matthew 6 Jesus confronts those making pretense of piety by praying publicly. These, according to Jesus, have their reward; accolades of men and self gratification. Jesus tells another parable, in Luke 18, of two men praying in the temple, obviously a public place. This story illustrates that it is not the public praying that Jesus is against, but the condition of our heart and our objective in public prayer.

That said, why do we prayer walk? There is no specific biblical directive, to my knowledge, for a person or a group of people to intentionally pray as they travel through an area. Some of the pictures that come to my mind when I think about prayer walking are based on scripture, however.

It’s the People

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings…." (Matt 23:37)

"…as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. How I wish today that you … would understand the way to peace." (Luke: 41, 42)

We walk the streets to pray for the people; those we see and those they represent. We ask the Father for his eyes to see what He sees. We desire to know and participate in the stories of those for whom we pray. We ask the Father for insights into the area for which we are praying as we look into the eyes of those living in the area. Do we see hope or hopelessness? Do we see spiritual and/or physical poverty or well-being? Do we see energy or lethargy? Do we see or feel those that are beaten down? These are the types of questions we ask the Holy Spirit to use as triggers for precise prayers for God’s intervention. Our intercessory prayers must include questioning the Father for direction on how we can be agents of His intervention. What is it that either myself, East Hills, or the Christian community at-large can do to either remedy or foster what it is we are being shown?

It’s Warfare

"For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. …Pray in the Spirit at all times.." (Eph. 6:12, 18)

A lot of the Old Testament story is a type, albeit a physical one, foreshadowing our spiritual journey. The Israelite entrance into and subsequent conquest of Canaan is a type of the spiritual warfare aspect of prayer walking. We understand that the world governed by the evil one and we are invading his kingdom. Now we do this whether we intercede from our prayer closets or on the street. But when we are on the street we are confronting Satan on his turf. We are spiritually attacking and tearing down strongholds and temples of idolatry.

God may whisper to us that an area is home to overt evil; strongholds of generational curses, occult practices, or abuse of many kinds, etc. We strategically bind the power of darkness in these areas and loose the power of heaven.

An idol is anything or anyone to whom we look for protection or provision other than God. We have created an idol when we get our self worth from any source but God or when we focus on something that keeps us from being whom or doing what God desires or demands.

As we prayer walk, ask God for direction in how to pray over physical representations of what may be an idol. Institutions, relationships, and activities may all fall into one or more of these categories. These, when subordinate to our relationship with God can be good, but evil when they replace God.

The more common are places representing power and influence, such as: government buildings, headquarters of business and labor, educational institutions, and churches. Other places might signify where people are distracted from whole heartedly serving God, such as casinos and sport/recreational facilities.

These potential idols are neutral. It is the people involved that should be the focus of our prayers; freedom for those worshiping these idols, and wisdom and power for believers to be Godly influences in these arenas.

We must pray for the people of Longview/Kelso; pray in our prayer closets, pray in corporate prayer settings. And whether or not we partner for the January 14th prayer walk as part of Global Impact week, take our intercession to the streets any time we walk, run, bike, or drive the streets of Longview/Kelso. We will be forcibly advancing God’s Kingdom.

Jim Venable


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