I don’t know if you’re like me, but when I hear the word evangelism, I have a visceral response. My heart sinks, and one of three images usually comes to mind:
- The bearded, scruffy-looking man walking down the sidewalk with the cardboard sign declaring, “The end is near!”
- The street preacher dressed to the nines on the corner, bullhorn in hand, shouting out a pointed sermon to a mass of weekend shoppers, all of whom are nervously trying to avoid eye contact.
- The kind, old lady attempting to pass out tracts to anyone who will slow down long enough to see what is in her little, frail hand.
I have had so many fears when it comes to evangelism. The training for sharing faith that I’ve learned in the church has, more often than not, been far from helpful. For me, it’s honestly just something that doesn’t come very naturally. The tension I have felt is that I really want my neighborhood and city to experience the good news of Jesus, but I haven’t known how to do evangelism in a way that looks like Jesus.
One day, I was sharing this struggle with a friend. She suggested prayer walking as a simple way to start. She said to me, “You’re more prophetically gifted, Deb, so use that area to grow in evangelism!” This sounded like a great idea, but all sorts of questions came to mind:
- Where do I start?
- How do I even begin?
- What exactly do I pray for?
- Do I just meander around the neighborhood trying to come up with good ideas of things to pray for?
I had visions of walking through our neighborhood looking like a strange, wandering nomad!
Eventually, I began to practice, and I got some help and training from others who were prayer walking their neighborhoods regularly. We got some practice and then began training our missional communities in a simple, prayer walking practice.
The 13 Steps
- Gather up in groups of 2-4 people.
- Imagine Jesus walking with you.
- Simply talk and listen to Him as you go.
- Ask God to give you a sense of what He feels for the people in the neighborhood.
- Ask what would it look like if the Father’s Kingdom came more fully in this place? What would be different?
- Ask God for insight on how you can serve and love the people here in ways they can understand.
- Pray that the Spirit would make the Father known to the people who live here.
- Ask God to provide opportunities for conversation and interaction with people while you’re out walking.
- Stop and talk to anyone you see while you’re out walking, or simply say hello.
- Ask God to give you People of Peace in the neighborhood.
- Ask for grace in everything you do as a missional community in this neighborhood.
- Write down pictures, scriptures, words, impressions, etc.
- Take some time to debrief and discuss with your team anything you noticed or heard from God as you walked.
This has frequently been an incredibly powerful time for us, especially for the kids in our community. Kids often have a particular sensitivity to God that is absolutely beautiful. We all have begun to see with new eyes and feel God’s heart for the neighborhood.
Prayer walking is a way of simply looking and listening. We want only to do what we see the Father doing (John 5:19), so we ask to see what He sees. We ask for His heart. We ask for His Kingdom to come. God loves to speak to us, and prayer walking is a simple way of doing evangelism that helps us to look for where He is already at work and to join Him in it!
What About You?
Have you been fearful of evangelism? Have you ever tried prayer walking? What have you found to be helpful in your own evangelism?