God doesn’ t just love the world; he loves every person and every place! The Lord is really interested in the town you live in, the place he has put you. He is concerned about the specific problems; He grieves over the local sins and injustices; He wants to draw out the godly destiny and spiritual potential of each conurbation that exists today. When we pray, it is important for us to be earthed and grounded in prayer for the place we live. Prayer groups may all have specific burdens but, as a rule, it is good to press in for a spiritual breakthrough where we live as well as across the world.
So how do you pray for your local place?You may have just moved to the place you are in, or you may have lived there all your life. Yet surprisingly many Christian are not confident in knowing how to pray for their city or locality. We can ask God for three gifts: we can ask for His heart; we can ask for His perspective, and we can ask for the gift of faith.
When my wife and I moved to the city of Stoke on Trent, we were strangers there. Yet it was remarkable how quickly the Lord gave us His heart and love for the place, how quickly He started giving us insight into the needs of the place, how soon we began to have faith for revival there!
Here are five things we have learned at the Beacon house of prayer about how to pray for our city. You might want to try some of these:
- Prayer walking. You can pray for the streets of your place as a kind of spiritual mapping exercise, to see what God is showing you – areas of darkness, or places where He is strongly at work. You can also walk in prayer to bless your community. A team from the Beacon HOP prayer walked every street in our city a few years ago, connecting with local churches and declaring God’ s glory and goodness. When you prayer walk, you definitely connect more strongly with the land. Whether claiming ground (Joshua 1:3) or carrying the gospel of peace (Matt 10:11-13), prayer walking is a great way of getting out of the church into the community!
- Praying the headlines. Many cities still have a local newspaper or local news websites. We cut out headlines every week of good and bad news stories from our newspaper. We use them to pray over the gates of local life – politics, health, business, law & order, education, arts & media, and community. It is amazing the number of answers to prayer we have seen as we watch the headlines. Psalm 24 says, ‘ Lift up your heads, you gates, that the king of glory may come in’ . You have the spiritual authority to turn back the battle in the gate (Is 28:6), in the spiritual atmosphere where you live.
- Re-digging the wells. As you consider the life of your town or city, it is helpful to look at the spiritual heritage of your area. Where and when did the church start? What revival history is there? When we moved to our city, God impacted my wife in the first month, about the call to re-dig the wells of revival – long before we had a vision for a house of prayer here. In Genesis 26:18, Isaac re-opened the wells from his father’ s day. How often God moves more than once in power in a place. You can contend for your revival wells to be opened again to bless your churches and community.
- Praying for your street. One of the easiest focuses for prayer is the street or estate you are living in. Most neighbourhoods in our nation have at least one Christian living in them. I wonder who on your street knows that you are praying for them and the felt needs of people who live nearby? As lights on a hill, Jesus says we can shine for him so people can see him (Matthew 5:14). Often that starts with prayer. The group Neighbourhood Prayer Network is encouraging every street in our towns to be a prayed for streets.
- Standing together for a breakthrough. Sometimes church or ministries have specific pushes in mission or outreach. It is good to get behind those things in prayer together. Like in Nehemiah’ s day, we can come to the aid of someone else working on the walls of our city (Nehemiah 4:19-20). A few times in recent years, a team from the Beacon HOP has gone for a day or evening, to stand in prophetic prayer with a church or Christian ministry. We have prayed for a breakthrough, for acceleration, and for a new anointing in ministry. That has been so appreciated by those receiving it. We are in this together; a breakthrough for one part of the church is a blessing to the whole body of Christ.
In the prayer journey of our city since 2001, our corporate church gatherings have held on to two ‘If’ s: 2 Chronicles 7v14 – ‘If my people…will humble themselves and pray…I will forgive their sin and heal their land’ ; and John 11v40 – ‘If you believe, you will see the glory of God’ . The twinning of these, the continued humbling and praying, and the continued faith and believing, help us to have God’ s heart, see with His insight, and pray with more faith. May your community be blessed because you are praying for it.
Rev Dr. William Porter is the team leader at Beacon house of prayer, Stoke on Trent.