Walking Toledo - Summer 1998

One Mile Perimeter Walk

There was no doubt in any of our minds that our first walk must be the one mile perimeter of the church. Take care of home first we thought; secure our own boundaries and then go out from there. This was also the walk that would set the tone and work out any kinks. If it was successful it would draw more people. We had no idea how many might be interested in spending a Friday evening walking and praying but we were about to find out that if properly organized, this was the hot place to be on Friday night. We were wildly successful.

This walk encompassed a local park and golf course, a historic cemetery, neighborhoods, the former DeVilbiss High School and a nearby church. The associated driving route circled the whole perimeter plus covered the nearby Jeep plant.

The visit to the church inspired the hosting of a barbeque dinner on a Sunday afternoon for that neighboring congregation. Bridges were built and ethnic walls came down as we got to know our neighbors over good food and fellowship.

We also had an interesting outcome of this walk only one week later. During the de-briefing time, some walkers had noted a particular house they had prayed for. They felt something evil there and particularly prayed for it to stop. The following Saturday there was a major story in the local paper. The headline was: "Bust nets 'good find'" and detailed a very large drug bust at that very house. Naturally, this is the kind of thing that spurs the excitement of the prayer walkers. They HAD made a difference.


Old West End

Our second prayer walk was in Toledo's Old West End which boasts: "THE LARGEST NEIGHBORHOOD OF LATE VICTORIAN, EDWARDIAN, AND ARTS & CRAFTS HOMES EAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI." It is also home to a large number of old historic churches on Collingwood Ave. that line the street like stately oaks.

While many streets are restored to their original elegance, others are run down and crime ridden. This is a very diverse neighborhood, both ethnically and culturally. A great number of elements co-mingle in the Old West End: Artsy types, large gay community, liberal churches and witchcraft practitioners.

Our prayer walk trailed through streets of mansions and houses boarded up or covered with graffiti. We circled Scott High School, The Collingwood Arts Center (formerly Mary Manse College and the Ursuline Convent), and The Toledo Museum of Art. We anointed every church with oil and prayed for revival of every denomination.

A large number of prayer walkers reported feeling spiritual heaviness in the Old West End along with demonic oppression. Witchcraft and occult activity was discerned quite often. There was a sense that this area needed cleansing and a great deal of repentance.


The East Side

The Maumee River divides Toledo. The "East Side" is across the river to the east. In a way, the East Side is like a different town, often distained by the west side of the city.

The East Side has lots and lots of railroad tracks and active trains making traveling sometimes difficult and irritating. There is also an oil refinery with associated smells and pollutions. Therefore, east and west frequently thumb their nose at each other; there is a real spirit of competition.

Our goal in prayer walking the East Side was to pray for unity in the city and reconciliation of ancient wounds and offenses. We drove quite a few of these routes. We covered the site of one of the Indian Mounds and the government housing project which now rests almost on top of it. Also, grain elevators, the oil refinery, the water treatment plant, International Park along the Maumee, The Sports Arena, and Collins Park.


Downtown Toledo

Our fourth prayer walk blanketed Toledo's downtown. We concentrated on government buildings, court centers, the Indian Mound site on the west side of the Maumee River, the Seagate Convention Center, the Toledo Port Authority and various world headquarter businesses.

Included in the routes where the names of Judges for each court so we could pray for them by name. At Government Center we were able to pray for the mayor and the city council and city employees. We also prayed over a garage full of police cars.

Additionally, we walked Monroe St. back from the river where there were a large number of adult businesses including seedy bars, nude dancing and adult bookstores. I say "were" because all of that is completely gone now. Instead, the new Mud Hens baseball stadium occupies this land along with new restaurants and businesses which feed off the revitalization.

Did our prayer walks help to bring that about? We probably helped but it is very hard to tell a direct cause and effect. God no doubt had many more people than just us praying. Still, it is very exciting to go to a baseball game in the summer and see the great change that has taken place in downtown Toledo.


The High Level Bridge

After our initial four prayer walks were so successful we decided to add two additional ones. With the prayer walk over the High Level Bridge we wanted to make a prophetic statement and that's how we staged it.

I previously mentioned the animosity between the east and west sides of the city. This walk was to demonstrate bringing the city together in unity so we asked people to meet at the base of the bridge on either side depending on which side they desired to represent. Surprisingly there just happened to be about the same number of people on both sides.

By calling each other on cell phones we were able to synchronize our start times and off we went, praying as we ascended the bridge. We met in the middle and all prayed together publicly and out loud even as cyclists and strollers passed by. We extended our hands out to the city in all directions and prayed.

There was such a sense of exhilaration and hope at that particular prayer walk. Our fame had spread through a number of our youth and we had young adults from other churches and even other nearby communities join us. This was an unforgettable prayer walk.


Adult Businesses

Our final prayer walk for the season actually took place in October. We decided to map out and track all of the adult book store type businesses in the city. This is a serious problem in Toledo. All of these were driving routes - no walking until we actually arrived at each establishment.

This walk fanned out in several directions but in most cases, adult type stores clustered together and each car load of people probably visited eight to ten locations. We instructed people to pray as a group while driving instead of allowing any chit chat.

As inconspicuous as we tried to be when we arrived, we were noticed in several places and even asked to leave, which we did. But nothing stopped us from continuing to pray from the cars and as we headed out to the next spot.


Where should you prayer walk?

Does this sampling give you some ideas of your own about where to prayer walk in your city? I hope so but I also hope you will devote some serious prayer to it before choosing your spots. The Holy Spirit is the "go-to Guy" for the places where you will be most effective.

Mainly you want to target seats of power and influence whether for good or for evil. Where you find good; bless it and pray for it to continue and prosper more and more. Where you find evil; take authority in the name of Jesus and reverse any curse you find.

As you prayer walk, tune in to God's voice - try to stay in receiving mode before you pray so you will be praying right on the mark. Now head out and start walking your city too!

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