Minor Answers to Major Issues: Are Prayer Walks Biblical?
Prayer walking is the practice of some Christians to walk through a neighborhood or town while praying for the people they come across. Sometimes those involved will go door to door reaching out to the people in their community by asking how they can pray for individual needs; effectively engaging in evangelism. Sometimes participants simply walk their neighborhoods pleading with God for Him to touch hearts and souls; to bring revival that will transform their community.
Some point to the famous march around Jericho in the Old Testament as the premise of God’s desire for the church to engage in prayer walks today. This walk was a special manifestation of God’s sovereignty by which He used the nation of Israel to conquer a pagan people and their city, all the while giving witness to the surrounding nations of the awesome power of God. While this is often cited as the inspiration for modern day walks of power, we must remember that this was not ever repeated in scripture and was not motivated by evangelism.
So is your local church’s planned prayer walk unbiblical? Not necessarily. In fact, a prayer walk done in the right way with the right heart can be a healthy form of outreach as well as a great way for your church to connect with each other when done in pairs or a small group.
Where prayer walking becomes dangerously unbiblical is when it is done with the belief that the march is accomplishing spiritual warfare by driving out “territorial” spirits. This belief says that there are demonic spirits who control geographical locations, thereby effectively limiting Christ’s influence over a community or region. Therefore, it is believed that before the gospel can be effective in an area the territorial spirit must be driven out by means of prayer walks and fasting, among other things. While the idea of fallen angels having influence in the earth is biblical, the idea that it is up to God’s church to get rid of them before the gospel of Jesus Christ can be effective, is not.
So the next time you plan a prayer walk with your small group, youth group, or a Christian friend, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons – your community is full of hurting people who need the powerful message of the gospel to be displayed in word and deed through His people.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16b KJV