May 25, 2015

Reach

Prayer Walking Your Campus, Part 2


In a follow-up to his first piece on prayer walking, Joshua Lee Henry shares about five Kingdom benefits to praying on and for your campus.

Why prayer walking? Because effective, evangelistic intercession through specific, Spirit-filled, and on-site prayer can be the key to penetrating a particular place or people group with the life-saving message of Jesus Christ. So whether prayer walking individually or in a group, here are five Kingdom benefits to prayer walking your local university campus.

  1. Incarnational Intentionality: Being the tangible presence of Christ at the university. Prayer-walking provides an opportunity for our ministry to literally manifest as the Body of Jesus. As Jesus says in regards to binding and loosing, making decisions, and resolving conflict, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20 ESV). In prayer-walking we bind the works of the Devil, loose the overflow of the Kingdom, seek reconciliation for our lost brothers and sisters, and partner with Jesus in intercession for seeing our campuses “On earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10). With all the communication of different philosophies, worldviews, and ideologies present at many of our secular, academic institutions, the need for a body of believers to incarnate the presence of Jesus is vital to gospel demonstration and declaration.
  1. Missional Impact: Bringing the Good News as a sent people to the primary academic and social environment of young adults. College campuses are typically the trend setting centers of culture. Along with major world cities, no other organizational entity shapes the thoughts, beliefs, and values of the majority of American society quite like higher education. And so they make perfect sense to target, especially if you’re interested in reaching the millennial generation. Prayer walking prepares us to go and tell.
  1. Communal Intimacy: Building a culture of teamwork among the Body, with dependency on Christ the Head for the results in ministry. 1 Corinthians 12 gives a beautiful illustration of how biblical ministry should work. Each member is dependent on one another and all are reliant on Christ. “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit, and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone” (12:4-6). In prayer-walking, every gift is needed. Encouragers help motivate the group going out, teachers give instruction on how to serve faithfully, those with the gifts of wisdom and discernment are able to direct others to the location most in need of prayer ministry. But Paul also tells us in Colossians 1:18 that Jesus is the “head of the body, the church.” And so while evangelistically gifted people are helpful to have on a prayer-walking team, the responsibility for turning hearts and creating communal intimacy throughout the group is the Lord’s.
  1. Experiential Initiative: Becoming a community that takes risks for Jesus. John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard Movement, was fond of saying “Faith is spelled R.I.S.K”. While we read about the apostle’s imprisonment in Acts and hear stories of persecution in other parts of the world, American Christianity is often seen as a religion of comfort and convenience. Recently there has been a push to reinforce being a 24/7 follower of Jesus, rather than just a periodic “fan”. Terms like “fully devoted Christian” and “committed Christ follower” are becoming more common. These efforts are attempting to address the same general need; namely a faith that is real, active and experiential. People want to enjoy and grow in their faith in every area of life. Prayer-walking stretches many out of their comfort zone in good ways, and recaptures a sense of adventure in mission—even danger–shared by the early church leaders.For example, the first time I took our group of ministry leaders out to prayer-walk a new student apartment complex, we came across a group of beer-chugging, gun toting thugs out having a good time. Though nervous at first, with the Spirit’s leading, I was able to engage them in conversation, and get to several deep heart issues the young men were struggling with. While I didn’t lead any of them in the “sinner’s prayer” that night, we did get to pray a blessing over them and asked God to fill the empty voids in their lives.
  1. Sacrificial Influence: Blessing others by giving yourself away. As followers of Jesus we are called to sacrificially influence our world with love. The kind of “agape” love Jesus models moves compassion to action and turns charity into real change. This kind of love can soften even the hardest of sinners and be felt by believers who put their faith into action and hit the streets for some hands on prayer ministry. While not every prayer-walking adventure requires interaction with people not in your group, I do believe that anytime we can engage someone in a Gospel conversation is a good thing. The best way for doing this I’ve found, is to be sensitive to the Spirit’s prompting and search out the person of peace. This strategy comes from Jesus’ instruction to the 72 in Luke chapter 10. “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’  And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you” (Luke 10:5-6

Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk

Prayer-walking really isn’t that hard. Many find the most difficult part is stepping out and actually getting started. If you have a heart for reaching college students but do not know where or how to serve, I would encourage you to just take these lessons and begin to implement them at your own local university. If your city does not have a college but you still have a heart for ministering to young adults, begin frequenting different social place environments. Twentysomethings are always looking for two things: fun and friends. If you are able to find one or both of these happening, that would be a good place to begin prayer-walking and building relationships. Other locations worth mentioning are apartment complexes, neighborhoods, shopping malls, sport stadiums, concert halls, and generally anywhere else massive groups of people gather. Again, prayer-walking is basically talking the talk and walking the walk. We hear from God and get around where the people are.

For more tips on prayer-walking checking out this helpful article from the North American Mission Board.


about the author

Joshua Henry


Joshua Lee Henry is the Assistant Director of Coaching on Purpose, an executive level leadership development and training program that equips marketplace leaders with both biblical principles and best practices for doing business as mission. Joshua is also a missions strategist, and consultant for churches, ministries and nonprofit organizations. He is published author, and regular conference speaker on the topics of discipleship, the Millennial generation, and missional church.