A neighborhood feels different after you’ve walked its streets, praying. That’s one of the reasons Jesus came here. When you’ve prayed your way down it’s sidewalks, observed its families, smiled at its kids. It changes how we perceive the people when we get the dust of their streets between our toes.
Jesus chose to do that rather than just issuing instructions from His safe place. Prayerwalking has been defined as praying on site with insight. Jesus invested His presence and He is pleased when we do that, too. Our hearts begin to bond with the hurts of our neighbors. Try it if you haven’t already. Walk casually, preferably with a partner or two, and look for clues. One person prays out loud, the others pray silently. Look for toys on the porch and pray for the kids. Look for signs of poverty and ask God to show you how you can help. Don’t hand out tracts; it takes your focus off your goal. If you meet someone just say something like, “We’re prayerwalking on this street, is there anything we can pray about for you?”
Pastor Don, can’t I do as much good by prayer driving? Prayer driving is for wimps. Or for blizzards, driving rain, 108° temps, the physically handicapped, or when there are riots in the neighborhood. You’re still protected; you’re still insulated. It’s like putting a sign out in front of your house that says, “Walk past here and I’ll pray for you!”
In prayerwalking we begin to feel what they feel, taste what they taste, hear what they hear, understand how they hurt. And we can serve better when we understand the hurt.
Do you know the story of J J Ramirez? Three ladies in Byron, TX, were assigned to prayerwalk a four block area of homes. They weren’t terribly excited about the assignment or the area. But they took it and began. Week after week they walked and prayed. Month after month. They met a few people, but mainly they walked. And prayed. What they didn’t know was that this neighborhood was the home of J J Ramirez. Nearly everyone knew J J., including the police. He was a gang leader with a lengthy rap sheet. But the ladies kept on walking. And praying.
One day a Christian artist came to town and hung out his shingle. Someone invited J J to attend, and to the amazement of everyone, he did. At the conclusion of the concert the guest musician made an appeal, and there was an audible gasp when, from the back of the auditorium, J J Ramirez stood and made his way to the front. “What a miracle!” everyone said. And it was. But not the first miracle in the story. I like to think that the first miracle was when three devout ladies began walking the streets of J J’s neighborhood and wouldn’t give up.
The next Friday night J J got his gang together in his living room. As they sat in a circle on the floor, cleaning their guns, J J read to them from the gospel of John in the new Bible he had just received. J J would go on to establish J J Ministries and he would spend the next twenty years traveling the world telling the story of his new life in Christ.
Is there a J J in your neighborhood? Why not check it out and see?
By Don Jacobsen