I’ve identified four concerns about prayer walking, concerns that might dissuade congregations or individual Christians from prayer walking. It’s time to address them.
“What do you mean by Prayer Walking?”
A few Christ-followers are tripped up by the phrase “prayer walk” because it sounds contradictory. The historical postures for prayer, from kneeling to standing, are much better known than walking. What are we supposed to do? Walk around the sanctuary during the Prayers of the Church, mumbling to ourselves and trying to bump into each other?
Fortunately, this level of concern is easily addressed through describing prayer walking. A couple of Christians walk together in the neighborhood or downtown or a nearby community, allowing what they observe to inspire petitions.
“This ‘prayer walking’ is not only unbiblical, it goes against Scripture!”
I was about 15 minutes into training a mission team in prayer walking when a team member blurted out the above statement. She thought the mission team was being encouraged to violate Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6:5:
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”
Jesus’ warning teaches us how not to prayer walk, as opposed to teaching us not to prayer walk. We should check the motives of all our activities, including prayer walking. While walking, pray quietly or silently. The idea is to intercede for the community, not show off personal piety.
“We’re going to look like a cult.”
This was another concern raised by a mission team member. This time the team member was worried the prayer walk would be counterproductive, driving people away from the mission church.
Be wise in how you dress for a prayer walk. Avoid dark suits or matching t-shirts with the church name. Wear what you normally wear. Do not hand out fliers or put up posters. If you would like, bring church business cards, but only for people who ask for information about the church.
“I don’t think it’s wise to take the place of God.”
This comment came from a longstanding member of a well-established church. He was reminding congregational leaders that their responsibility is to faithfully gather together. God’s responsibility is to bring people to faith.
Fortunately, prayer walking respects these biblical principles. When prayer walking, we ask God to intercede on behalf of people, organizations and businesses in the community. So, it’s exactly like the prayers offered in worship services. It is up to God to respond to the petitions as God sees fit.
And it’s my prayer that addressing these concerns about prayer walking will help your congregation or mission team engage in prayer walking. If you like a guide for prayer walking, go to the Resources page.
How do you handle objections to community engagement such as prayer walking? Leave your knowledge in the comments or shoot me an email.
Additional materials and content on prayer walking:
“Four Motivations for Prayer Walking”