Prayer changes everything. We believe that. We believe that our faith can impact what we’re praying for. We also believe that prayer changes the one who is doing the praying. As we authentically have a conversation with God, we’ll notice that God will start to impact the way we see the world around us. So, with that in mind, you are invited on a prayer walk with us today. You can take that walk through your mind’s eye or get out in this chilly weather for a little exercise.
Let’s begin today in John 17, where Jesus is praying for unity and for Him and others to be witnesses to the world.
Read John 17:20-26 with your own communities in mind - your community of faith and the community that you live in.
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
Notice that Jesus’ prayer is not just for His faithful followers, it’s for those who will be impacted by His faithful followers, too. To me, the first thing that came to mind was my neighborhood, my community. So today, we’re going to take a short prayer walk of our neighborhoods. You can bundle up and head outdoors or stay inside and take the journey in your mind. This guide is designed for those staying indoors. But you can adapt it for journeying outdoors.
I invite you to begin by taking a posture of prayer. However you are most comfortable and most able to focus in on God. Close your eyes and picture your neighborhood. It might be your personal neighborhood, the one surrounding your church or another one that’s weighing heavy on your heart.
As you know, a prayer walk is not just about walking around and it’s not just praying. It’s walking through your neighborhood with your heart wide open. It’s noticing signs of hope and signs of need, and how God calls you to be present to both. As you imagine your neighborhood, be present as servants, not tourists. As veteran prayer walkers say, “You can be on the scene without making one.” And it’s easy in some ways with this method to not make a scene. But our minds can wander. Try to stay focused.
Notice people groups: Who is hanging on street corners, going into businesses, playing in parks, waiting in line at the store? How much do people interact with one another?
Let’s pause and pray for the people who flow in and out of our neighborhoods. Pray as God leads you to pray for them.
Notice Structures: What are the types and conditions of the structures (homes, businesses, roads, parks)? Let’s pause and pray for your City’s infrastructure, for the businesses, for the homes.
Ask God to put you a place where you can best serve the City.
Notice signs of hope: Where do you see evidence of God’s grace and God’s people at work? Look for churches and nonprofit organizations, playing children, uplifting artwork, faith symbols, social gatherings, gardens.
Let’s pause and pray about the ways that God is on the move in your neighborhood. Pray for God’s spirit to increase. Pray that God will help you be a part of that movement.
Notice signs of need: Look for evidence of hardship, hurt or injustice. Is what you see specific to particular areas or affecting the neighborhood as a whole? Remember that marginalized people and social problems are often hidden, especially in communities that appear well-off.
Let’s pause and pray for the needs of our communities.
• Pray for discernment – Seek the gift of seeing the community through Christ’s “lens,” and to discern what God is already doing there; ask God to show you how you can pray with greater insight for the people, events and places in the community.
• Pray for blessings – Pray for every person, home, school, business and situation you encounter.
• Pray for empathy – See and feel what your neighbors live with every day; offer intercession for signs of brokenness and give thanks to God for the blessings and gifts in the community.
Mark 12:30-31, 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.”
In closing, we are going to just give some space for you to journal and pray. Spend some time making observations about your neighborhood and asking God how He’d like you to be at work in 2021.
Journal and Pray
• What did you learn about the neighborhood?
• Where was God’s presence especially apparent?
• What surprised you?
• What was hard? What was engaging?
• What ministries and what worship would truly speak here? With whom could you partner and learn?
• How can you better share the love of Jesus in your neighborhood in 2021?