I became interested in prayer mapping and prayer walking in 1998. The difference between the two is this: prayer mapping involves strategic assessment of the spiritual condition of a particular geographic territory. Prayer walking is a natural follow through to this as you physically walk out areas you have mapped, praying based on the mapping. While it is possible to do one without the other, they make natural partners and paired together produce powerful prayer.
Several factors played into my developing interest. I was in a small weekly prayer group at the time and God was working on several of us independently, raising divine curiosity about the spiritual condition of Toledo, Ohio. Almost simultaneously, our church felt a burden to beginning prayer walking with a purpose.
The church wanted someone who would organize and conduct a series of prayer walks and I immediately volunteered. There were five of us in all; one was a church elder and he acted as a liaison to the pastor. I had already done a substantial amount of research into Toledo’s history. I was beginning to formulate ideas about both curses and blessings that applied to this city with the nickname, “Holy Toledo.”
The church leadership, which had not done any investigative work at all, prayed and picked the four sites where we would prayer walk over the summer of 1998. Interestingly, based on my research, I felt the choices were right on the mark. This was a confirmation to me that God was directing us and we were on the right track. In the end we added two additional prayer walks to our itinerary.
Prayer Walking On Purpose
Before we discuss the specifics of the various prayer walks we conducted, let’s take a moment to talk about purpose. The ultimate goal in prayer walking is to prepare a city or geographic region for evangelization. The question is raised: is it easy or hard to be saved in our city? What obstacles exist preventing our city from receiving the gospel? What curses and blessings operate in our city? Discover those answers and now you can develop an effective prayer strategy. Follow that with a strategy and actual implementation to evangelize the city.
There are other purposes for prayer walking also. Prayer takes effect immediately as groups go out and walk and pray. Prayer walking draws people into prayer. It was apparent to us immediately that this prayer type was much more attractive than regular prayer meetings which are generally sparsely attended. People were excited and our attendance was phenomenal – way beyond the ordinary.
Prayer walking increases effectiveness because people can actually see what they are praying for. At first their natural senses tell them how to pray but as they tune in to God their spiritual antenna goes up. They begin to receive information from the Holy Spirit. This is exciting to them and to the project and everybody feels “now we’re really cooking.” Debriefing at the end of each prayer walk provides more insight for future prayer.
Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty. I have broken down the study of my personal experience with prayer walking into various areas of interest ranging from the practical aspects of organizing a walk to prophetic insight into the city.