A tremendous amount of planning and detail work went into the organization of the prayer walks. We tried to anticipate any obstacle to success and overcome it before we sent people out. We wanted everyone to have a positive experience and to have no distractions from effective prayer.
Each prayer walk was divided up into several evenly distanced routes. We walked or drove every route ourselves in advance to make sure each one was logical, flowed well and was safe. Our first prayer walk (the one mile perimeter of the church) had fifteen different routes. After deciding on the routes we highlighted them on map segments we had copied on 8 ½ by 11 sheets.
Additional information and detail was noted on the routes if we had it. We marked buildings of interest where we felt special prayer was indicated. We gave a start and stop location if we knew what was convenient.
We chose to have our walks on Friday evenings during the summer from 7:00 PM to about 9:00 PM while it was still light. We encouraged the whole family to come and bring along strollers if needed.
Everyone met in the church sanctuary for praise and worship for about a half hour first. This is a very important aspect of prayer walking. Praise can prepare people for the walk; for hearing from God and being sensitive to his Spirit. It also strengthens the walkers for any spiritual warfare they may engage in.
After worship we divided up the walkers based on the number of routes and the number of people who showed up. We assigned a leader within each group and gave that person the route sheet assigned to them. Then we let each group individually plan how to car pool etc.
Additionally, we passed out an instruction sheet to every participant every time we had a walk. (See "Instructions for Prayer Walkers" for details) Our congregation had a good understanding of spiritual authority so we never had any issues of anyone going outside the parameters we set.
After that we released them with the final instruction that they must return to the church and turn in their route sheets before going home. They were to write their impressions and detailed information about their walk on the sheets. That was our record of what happened.
The most fun happened as people returned to church. Since the routes were similar distances, everyone returned at about the same time. The parking lot was filled with excited folks, buzzing about what had happened and all that they had seen and felt as they walked and prayed various neighborhoods. It was so much fun in fact, that this became the "don't miss" event of the season.
Here are some additional tips for planning a successful prayer walk.
Be prepared. Better to over-organize behind the scenes so people are not standing around wasting time and not knowing what is going to happen.
Keep on schedule. Start ON TIME.
Make sure to plan for one or two "driving" routes for anyone who may not be physically able to walk. No one should be left out because everyone can pray.
Since you don't know how many people will show up the first time, be flexible with the number of routes available. Be ready to condense or expand plans.
Encourage every prayer walker to record their thoughts and impressions on the route sheets. One person gets one piece of the puzzle and another gets a different piece but every person is important.
Space the walks about every two weeks so people are not overburdened but so that they maintain interest.
Take pictures and provide follow up so people realize they made a difference.
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