LEARNING TO PRAY WHAT YOU SEE
The following is an excerpt from Chris’ book “Pray What You See”. In it he talks about the power of prayer in church planting. Interested in reading more? Pick up a copy on Kindle by visiting Amazon.com.
I hiked out of the Grand Canyon a few years ago.
I remember stepping onto the edge of the rim with a gasp of triumph, proud of my coat of dust from the bottom of the canyon. With an exhausted smile I staggered over to the shade of an oak tree and sat down to catch my breath and blink the sweat out of my eyes.
After a few minutes of blissful solitude an air-conditioned tour bus pulled up and spit out an army of tourists armed with Canon’s and khaki shorts.
30 minutes and 3,000 pictures later, the tourists marched back onto the tour bus and drove off to the souvenir shop, with the oil stain on the parking lot the only trace of their visit. Both the tour bus and I had seen one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World that day, but the difference between our encounters was a wide as the canyon itself.
Such has been my experience with prayerwalking.
Early in 2014 my pastor asked me to consider planting a church in University City, a city 30 miles northeast of where we lived, towards the center of St. Louis. To discern God’s call I got off the tour bus, so to speak, and pray for the city while I walked through it. Hiking the Grand Canyon taught me there were things I could only see- and pray- after I was covered in the dust of the city.
From my very first prayerwalk, as it’s called, I marveled at the way viscerally experiencing the city made my prayers more vivid, more intense. Instead of praying in my quiet living room with head bowed and eyes closed, trying to ignore the sound of the air conditioner, I was interacting with the city through my prayers, praying for things I would never mention if I had stayed home: For that home with that lady gardening. For those kids shouting on that playground. For that waiter on the patio of that restaurant.
Instead of praying in my quiet living room I was interacting w/the city thru my prayers
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One year, 100 miles, and 52 prayerwalks later, and I am forever changed by what I prayed, what I learned about prayer, and what God did through those prayers.
During the course of the year, I invited some friends to join me on prayerwalks. Some of them were interested in our church plant. Others were simply friends who wanted to pray with me. But, on every prayerwalk, a pattern emerged- people would begin the walk with questions and apprehension. After listening to me pray for what I saw, they’d give it a try themselves. Within a few blocks, their words began to lose stiffness and their phrases became more reactive. Halfway through our walks I could literally hear their confidence in their feet as much as I could in their prayers.
Nearly every prayerwalk would end with a “This is so cool- thanks for bringing me!” or “Wow, that was fun- I had no idea what to expect!” followed by a repetitive question, “How do I start doing this on my own?”
That is what this book is all about…
Interested in learning more about the power of prayer walks? Listen to Chris’ interview with Matt Peeples on the “Life of a Church Planter” podcast.
BY CHRIS PAAVOLA
In order to reach new people, the church must start new. Seven Steps to Start is a practical guide for starting new. Whether that be new churches, coffee shops, a missional community, or a new small business, this book will guide you in starting strong.