A friend recently asked about prayer walking because she felt led to do some prayer walks in her city. After writing it out for her, I realized that these instructions could be useful for others who God is leading to become part of a spiritual swat team in their cities. So here is my Practical Guide to Prayer Walking:
Before you start, each teammate must realize that you’re going against the enemy on his turf, so I recommend fresh prayers for protection over yourself, anyone going with you, and all family members. This is to remind the enemy (and yourselves) that you’re protected, covered by the matchless Blood of Jesus.
Everyone that is going with you needs to commit to being there for all of the preparation, and if they can, to also be there for the debriefing at the end. If someone wants to go pray, but is unwilling to commit for the whole process, pray and ask the Lord if they should be involved. Unity is absolutely critical, and failure to commit to the whole process could damage unity. It could also be a sign of a rebellious spirit, which also threatens unity.
Start at the church because you don’t want to step out the door until the Holy Spirit indicates that you’re ready. If you don’t have the willing participation of your church (at least in allowing preparatory prayers and worship), pray about doing this step in a local House of Prayer or in the home of a teammate where everyone in the home is willing to host this activity, whether they are all born again or not. All teammates must be born again, spirit-filled, and know something of spiritual warfare.
What we do first is intense worship, really pour your heart out in extravagant worship, lifting Jesus high. You might dance, wave flags, but there’s got to be freedom—each person worshiping as the Spirit leads. Let the Holy Spirit lead you in worship and in everything that follows. And that is it in a nutshell right there.
Then spend time together seeking the Lord about how to pray in these places. Bring a map of the city before the Lord—you can circle the neighborhoods in question. The Holy Spirit may indicate different approaches in each place, but sometimes not.
He may lead you to do some prophetic acts involving:
- water, wine, or salt (mostly those items speak to purification);
- olive oil
- God’s Word (either whole or part, maybe just a key verse, which sometimes we have planted into the earth in a place indicated by the Holy Spirit);
Other items may indicated by the Holy Spirit. So go prepared, with the items the Lord indicates. Other prophetic acts could be making declarations in those places, based on scripture; or simply praying and sending the enemy away. In everything, the Holy Spirit knows exactly what to do, and what will be most effective.
This preparation time may be lengthy, so budget at least half a day for this important step. The actual prayer walking will usually take less time. But the whole thing from start to finish will likely take a full day (figuring for meal breaks, too). And it’s pretty exhausting, so I wouldn’t make any plans for the evening.
Remind teammates that our prayers are powerful. You may run into witchcraft, voodoo, or some other demonically powerful nonsense. So it’s always good to remind the whole team of the power of our prayers and that “greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world,” (1 John 4:4). God has equipped us with everything we need to “wage the good warfare,” (1 Timothy 1:18, NKJV), and “having done all, to stand,” (Ephesians 6:13)—it’s so simple, yet powerful: the only way we can possibly lose is by retreating (we’ve got no armor for the back of us!). A former witch once revealed to a friend of mine that the spiritual atmosphere he had prayed thirty times to build was completely wrecked by one Christian prayer—so he decided to switch sides!
There are some we don’t do, and a few things that we always do:
- We don’t go out to share Jesus—not that day! Your purpose on a prayer walk is to clean the territory in the spirit realm. Keep that in mind.
- We don’t make a spectacle of ourselves. Declarations don’t have to be loud to be heard in the spirit realm. Most of the passers-by never had a clue that we weren’t just talking among ourselves. For this reason, if you have a big group, it’s best to split up into smaller groups of two to three people, certainly no more than six. If you have a few places in mind, it makes for easy division by asking those involved, “which place draws you?” Undecided teammates can go pray at the place with the fewest people praying. My experience is that the Lord draws the people He wants to the right place. If you split up, then you need to designate a leader for each place. If you have six in each place, you may ask each leader to consider breaking their group in two, and going to different parts of that neighborhood, while close enough to still see each other. Never have anyone pray alone.
- Stick to whatever the Holy Spirit has instructed, while remaining flexible about exactly what that actually looks like. Sometimes He adds final instructions on site, so this can be really important. Each leader should have a written list of instruction for her/his place so that s/he can keep everyone on task.
- We let each person pray or do the specific act that the Lord revealed to them. For example, if Bob got a vision involving chickens, and there is a chicken yard or chicken coop in the neighborhood he’s praying at, then Bob is the one who should pray into that aspect, as the Lord leads. And if the Lord indicates pouring wine into the chicken’s water, then Bob should very stealthily do that—but only a few drops are needed, we don’t want drunken chickens! And perhaps the Lord indicates singing a particular song at the chicken coop. If so, come prepared with a guitar, harmonica, or whatever. And if Bob feels led to do the Chicken Dance, then encourage him to do it. Sometimes the Lord has us do crazy stuff, and we only discover later how it affected someone or something. Obedience is more important than feeling momentarily foolish.
- It’s best to appoint someone (usually the group leader) to keep watch while the group is at the scene. If someone approaches the group, the leader needs discernment to know if the person is a threat or just curious. In either case, the leader may have to break off from the group and go engage the person or try to head them off. But it’s best to keep the flow of prayers going if at all possible.
- We always have a follow-up session at the church, in which people share any visions, prophetic words, unusual experiences (drunken chickens), or significant encounters with the locals. It is possible that the Holy Spirit may indicate continuing prayer in one or all the places. If so, then the people that live there (if there were any on the prayer team), then they are the logical choice, since they will be a daily physical presence in that place. Otherwise, let the people the Lord revealed this to be the ones to continue praying.
With good preparation and the Lord’s leading, you can make some neighborhood improvements that will have a lasting effect. God is good!