Begin your gathering by taking communion together, whether as a full meal or some version of the bread and the cup that proceeds the meal. If you don’t already have a Communion liturgy, feel free to pray this prayer based on Paul’s words to the church in Corinthians:
Father, Son, and Spirit – Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. Help us to remember that our weapons have divine power to demolish strongholds. And teach us to use them to demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. Be made much of in our midst. Amen.
Read This Overview Aloud Together
Painted through the pages of Scripture is the reality that we, the people of God, are blessed in order to be a blessing. Rightly understood, this is a divine invitation to see everything we have as a gift from God – our money, our time, our skills, our jobs, our families, etc. Everything God gives us is meant to be passed along or used to bless those around us, including the mind-boggling ability we all have to talk to the Creator of the universe about anything, or prayer. But prayer is more unbelievable than that: not only can we talk to and hear from God, our prayers can change reality. When we pray, God acts.
At Bridgetown, we have reached a precipitation point with prayer that we’ve seen coming for a while — we knew that, at some point, our experiences with God’s presence in prayer rooms (both Bridgetown’s or our own) would begin to pour out onto the streets of our city; we knew that in due time the potential energy of our private prayer times would begin to overflow as we took to the streets and encountered God’s presence beyond the walls of the church. We want to funnel all of this into a Practice called Prayer Walking.
At its most basic, prayer walking is simply praying with your eyes open. Instead of letting the Spirit meet us in a private prayer room, we go out looking for him and for what he’s up to. And as we do, we find, unsurprisingly, that Jesus is always showing up amongst the margins because, although evil has marred our city, every inch of it still holds within it seeds of God’s in-breaking Kingdom. God loves when we gather on Sundays and in Communities, but he also longs to host us in these other parts of our city, the parts most people overlook.
When we prayer walk, we pray eschatologically, or “with the end in mind.” Since God is making all things new (Isaiah 43v19 & Revelation 21v5), we pray with eyes open – both physically and spiritually – watching for what God is actively doing in our city and praying in line with his vision for renewal and revival. So, this week, we will take time to get a better framework for what prayer walking looks like and then plan a prayer walk together.
Discuss The Following Questions
- Has anyone ever done a prayer walk? What was that experience like?
- For years we’ve used the language “taking spiritual responsibility for Portland.” How can prayer walking be seen as a step towards this?
- What fears come up in you when you think about prayer walking? What excitement?
Prayer Walking: A Framework
When starting something new, beginning with a unified framework gives us a common language and containers when talking about how it went. So, while there are so many ways to do a prayer walk, we’re going to ask every Community to do at least one prayer walk this July in the following format.
Where are we going to pray? We have selected one neighborhood in each of the five quadrants of our city. Please pick the neighborhood within the quadrant in which your Community meets and prayer walk as much of this neighborhood as you’re able. It’s ok that this may not be your neighborhood. The goal of this Practice is to take ground together. We want to watch what God does as we concentrate on these locations this summer. (Note: You can click on the neighborhood below to see the exact streets they included.)
- North: Arbor Lodge
- Northeast: Grant Park
- Southeast: Woodstock
- Northwest/Downtown: Portland Downtown
- Southwest: Multnomah
How are we going to pray? Keep these things in mind on your prayer walk:
Go in Groups of 3 to 5: We really encourage Communities to split into smaller groups of 3 to 5 people. This way 1) your Community can cover more of the neighborhood in which you are praying and 2) we don’t bombard sidewalks and streets with large groups of people.
Pray Quietly to Yourselves: For the sake of limited distraction, being respectful neighbors, and easier focusing on God’s voice and leading, we think it’s best to pray quietly to yourself. We do so remembering that we already have God’s attention and affection as we pray; he does not require loud or intense prayers before he will act.
Stop at Symbolic Places: As you’re walking, stop at certain places that feel symbolically significant and to circle up to pray – government buildings, historical statues, marijuana dispensaries, hospitals, churches, memorials, landmarks, etc. Note that, for places of business, it may be wise to circle up to pray down the street or around the corner and not right in front. Use wisdom and be courteous.
Follow The Spirit’s Prompting & Use Wisdom: Feel free to engage people as they come up to you or as you sense the Spirit’s invitation. But please make sure to use wisdom and consider your safety and that of those with whom you interact.
What are we going to pray? As we walk, we will be asking God to do three things:
Ask God to Reveal: Spend time asking God to reveal to you what he’s already doing in this neighborhood. Ask him to open your eyes to where he’s currently working, redeeming, and restoring. Remember that we are not bringing God to this neighborhood, we’re meeting him there. So take time to ask him to give you visions of his plan for this neighborhood.
Ask God to Renew: As he reveals what he’s up to, pray into the areas of renewal that he brings to mind. Contend alongside him in prayer for systems of injustice to be righted, for the traumas of poverty and mental illness to cease, for the spiritual darkness of our city to bow to Jesus, for loneliness to be replaced by community, and for anything else that he shows you. Pray big, bold prayers, knowing that he is releasing glory, light, and power into our city as we pray.
Ask God to Revive: Finally, spend time asking God to bring revival to our city. More than people having a wild encounter with God (though certainly not less), revival is a series of profound, communal encounters with God that pour over into salvation and sanctification – into right relationship with God and into a move of holiness and prayer. As you pray for revival, ask for God to encounter each person you see, to draw them to repentance through his kindness. We want to see our whole city come to faith in Jesus and know the love of the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit. And as much as we want it, we believe God wants it more. So, again, pray big, bold prayers here!
Planning Your Prayer Walk
With all of the above in mind, work through the following prompts together to plan out your prayer walk. Note: It could be helpful to have someone take notes and send them out to the group, so that everyone is on the same page.
Day & Time – Begin by deciding what day and time your Community wants to do your prayer walk. Given how late it stays light, it might be ideal to do it on the night your Community typically meets. But, if you have children in your Community who usually go to bed at some point during your Community night, perhaps you want to consider doing it on a weekend, when you’ll have more time and the kids can participate. Also discuss how long you want to commit to prayer walking. Do you want to cover the whole neighborhood or stop after a certain amount of time?
Groups – With our request of going in groups of 3 – 5, decide how you want to split up. Maybe your Community already has Triads, or the dads want to take the kids, or couples want to pray together. The decision is yours, just figure out what the split up will be.
Kids – We encourage you to bring and include your kids! As you plan ahead, consider asking them: What would you want to see God do out on our prayer walk? Is there anything specific you want to pray for on our prayer walk? What would you want to see God do in our neighborhood?
Map – Next, pull up the map for the neighborhood you’ll be praying through (remember that you can click on it in the list above).
- Where does each group want to start? You could all start at one corner and work your way out; you could each start in different corners and meet in the middle; you could split the neighborhood into sections and each take one.
- Also, discuss if anyone knows of any significant locations in that neighborhood that you want to make sure to stop and pray through. (Note: It could be cool if someone was excited about doing some research on the neighborhood before your prayer walk to let you all know about certain landmarks or things to pray through.)
Be Prepared! – Lastly, make sure you prepare for your prayer walk. Remind everyone to bring water and maybe even some snacks. You could even bring a journal or notebook to write down what God reveals, so that you all can keep praying into it.
As you close, remind everyone of the plan. Then pray, committing your prayer walk to God.
End in Prayer
Close your time together thanking God for the ways in which he has guided each of you. Ask him for help to pay closer attention to what is happening in our city. Ask him to give you his eyes to see not just problems or brokenness, but to prophetically see what could be.