By Jerry Wiles —
In recent years “Prayer Walking” has become an important topic in relation to ministry and mission strategies. It is often referred to as praying onsite with insight. Prayer Journeys and prayer walking initiatives have taken place all over the world. We like to emphasize that prayer walking is more than prayer, and more than walking. It is an integral part of the “Prayer-Care-Share Strategies.” It can take on many forms of expression, and is an activity every believer can engage in. In this context, sight-seeing, and fact-finding are about observation and being alert to the needs and interests of the people we encounter in our normal traffic patterns. The Holiday Season is an especially excellent time to meet people and make new friends.
Joining God’s Redemptive Activity
Sometimes, simply greeting people, making a comment, or asking a question can help make connections with people and begin a relationship. As followers of Jesus, we should have an awareness that God is always at work in all places. When we realize we are “On Mission with God,” we can expect to often have some divine appointments, those spontaneous and natural witness and ministry opportunities.
The late Manley Beasley said, “Find out what God is up to, and get in on it.” Henry Blackaby put it this way, “Identify the activity of God, and join Him.” Fact-finding, sight-seeing, and prayer walking are ways of doing just that.
Fact Finding with Purpose
Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity of being part of fact-finding delegations to several foreign countries. On those trips our delegation would meet with and interview business professionals, church leaders, and government officials. It was during a time when the news media was not giving accurate coverage of what going on in those regions of the world. It was a great learning experience and insightful regarding ministry and mission strategies.
Intended to be Salt and Light
When you think about it, each of us can and should be on a continuous sight-seeing and fact-finding mission. Wherever we go, we can be in a spirit of prayer, we can observe people, listen, and learn, and make spiritual connections. A key factor is being aware of our spiritual union with Christ, recognizing His presence and power that is available to us. As ambassadors of Christ, we are representatives of the Lord, and we are to be salt and light to those around us.
The Solution to Removing Barriers
I am often around those who are struggling with spiritual growth issues. Many true believers are often trying and striving to be mature and become fruitful in their witness and ministry to others. However, there are often barriers to appropriating the fulness of life in Christ and living the abundant life that God has promised in His Word. The answer to this dilemma is no secret, and the solution has been expressed in many ways over a long period of time.
The Saving Life of Christ
Ultimately, it takes the Spirit of God to reveal to us that it’s “not I, but Christ” living in us that is the key to abundant living and fruitful ministry, according to Galatians 2:20. There are many other places in Scripture that affirm this truth. God is faithful to use many ways to show us the futility of our own self effort. For me, it was during the Jesus Movement of the early 1970s. The Lord used several different individuals in my life. One of those was the late Major W. Ian Thomas, founder of Torchbearers International, and author of “The Saving Life of Christ” and other books.
Seasons of Spiritual Transformation
It was a season of transformation for many of us, especially among college students and young people. After experiencing that reality, I began to actively share with others and see more people come to Christ, seemingly “by accident,” than I had ever been able to produce before on purpose. It was a discovery of the difference between my human effort on His behalf and experiencing His work through me. It’s the outworking of the indwelling Christ that enables us to be fruitful and to experience the reproducing life of the Risen Lord Jesus.
Power of Relational Connections
When we consider God’s will and purpose and why we are here on planet earth, we must think of the mission we are on and the mission field we live in. A pastor friend likes to emphasize that we are to reach our neighbors, our networks, and the nations. It’s the presence and power of the Holy Spirit that makes that possible.
In recent years, the Lord has brought the nations to our doorsteps here in North America. Where I live in the Houston area, we have in our neighborhood families from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Literally, God has brought the nations to us!
Furthermore, each person who comes to Christ has a family, a network, and relational connections to impact many others.
Amazed and Surprised at the Work of God
Wherever we happen to be, whether in our neighborhood, a shopping mall, an airport or on the job, we can and should be salt and light to those around us. We can all engage in prayer walking, sight-seeing and fact finding. When we do so, we can trust that the Holy Spirit will connect us with people who need the Lord. As a follow up to our Orality Training Workshops, we sometimes actually go out to where people are and show them how that works. People are often amazed and surprised at how many people are open to having spiritual conversations when approached in an appropriate manner. It has been said that it’s easier caught than taught. We certainly need teaching and proclamation, but demonstration is also important. Word and deed, show and tell, integral mission are all ways of expressing how the Gospel needs to be heard and experienced.
Those of us involved in using orality strategies, like to emphasize that it’s not enough to proclaim the Gospel, people need to hear it, understand it, process it (usually in community), remember it, and pass it on. Reproducibility and multiplication are vital for lasting and far-reaching impact. We have many examples and impact stories of how the concepts of Orality, Storytelling and other Oral Art Forms have been fruitful in communicating the Gospel, making disciples, racial reconciliation, community development and many other applications.