We have been encouraging everyone to go a prayer walk in their community. People can go with their group, a friend or spouse, or by themselves.
It is important that we consistently seek the Lord through prayer, but often times we get stuck in a pattern of simply petitioning God for our felt needs and those of others. There is not anything wrong with it. But it can make you weary of prayer if 90% of your prayers are, "Lord please help _____." This is what C. John Miller calls maintenance prayer. It is often short and mechanical focused on physical needs of people in the church.
But Miller also notes there is "frontline" prayer: prayer that is expectant, hopeful, challenging, transforming, and a cry for the kingdom of God to come. Frontline prayer involves three things:
1) A request for grace to confess sins and to humble ourselves
2) A compassion and zeal for the flourishing of the church and the reaching of the lost
3) A yearning to know God, to see his face, to glimpse his glory
There are remarkable Biblical examples of this. Famous passages of truly powerful prayer are Nehemiah 1; Exodus 33; Daniel 9; and Acts 4 (the Elders and I used Daniel 9 as a guide in a planning retreat we did last fall for this year). Throughout Christian history, moments when God brings a fresh movement of his people have come with "frontline" prayer. God is sovereign in his acts of grace but he rarely moves without moving people to pray, to see his kingdom come, to humbles ourselves and seek his face. I know my own prayer life needs to be more frontline focused and less routine maintenance.
I have become convinced in my studies on prayer in recent months that we need to do more "Frontline" prayer. This is why I am challenging everyone to go on a prayer walk and use the simple guide we have available in our lobby.
Why Prayer walking? It gets you out of the routine. As Christians we ought not to live as though there is no connection between the spiritual and physical. Therefore Christians, and missionaries especially, throughout history have walked through towns, villages, cities, and bare soil asking God to bring conviction of sin, compassion for people, to see his kingdom expand and to see his face.
So get out, walk around, take a little time to see your neighborhood and pray for your neighbors. Pray for things you notice. Pray God would move our hearts and create opportunities to share the love of Christ with people in word and deed. Pray with expectant hearts that God would bring a fresh wind of his grace.
*The information on frontline prayer here has been taken in part from Tim Keller, Center Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), p. 73.