How prayer can impact a neighborhood
In late 2013 I began consistently prayer walking a specific route around our home in the town where we live near Málaga, Spain. The area contains our neighborhood plus two adjacent neighborhoods and a portion of the old town center in the pueblo (or town). I began praying in hopes that the Lord would shift the spiritual environment towards the spiritual hopes we have for this area.
On my walks I often find myself praying for many different themes surrounding our pueblo: the citizens of the town — all ages and families — the education system, the municipality and its leaders. I pray for economic blessing, for old curses that have bound the society to be broken, for the land itself to be cleansed and healed, for spiritual hunger to be awakened, and for new foundations upon which Jesus’ Kingdom can be built.
You'll notice there is a theme of prayer that is not only for the inhabitants but also for the land. My wife, Doralicia, and I have been more intrigued about how land itself plays an important role in the lives of the people living on it. It is also an important theme in the Bible. In fact, there are over 1700 references to land in the Bible. Doralicia and I are praying according to 2 Chronicles 7:14:
"If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land."
Isn't it interesting how God promises that the fruit of our humility, prayer, and seeking will be healing for our land?
Last week, as I was taking pictures of the route that I walk, I noticed something interesting. Along that route there was a lot of activity — improvements that started all in the time I have been praying for the area. Here are just some of the things that have transpired in the time since I started praying:
- A beautification project along a major road providing wider lanes, a bike path, and new beautiful palm trees
- A large Chinese Bazaar in several abandoned warehouse spaces
- A new supermarket and gas station
- A beautiful green area with a walking path, bike path, and gorgeous landscaping
- A second beautification project like no. 1 above in a different part of town
- A large multi-use park with a children’s playground, exercise area, workshop space for the community, picnic tables, and trees and landscaping
- A large, beautiful marble plaza with underground parking
- A facelift to the local skateboard park with an extension for the kids to enjoy
- A new multi-sport space for basketball and mini-futbol (court soccer)
- A third beautification project still under construction with wider streets and space for a footpath and bike path
How incredible! Is this a coincidence? Did the municipality already have those plans in place before I began praying? Does it really matter?
I am convinced that God's timing and sovereign plans were guided to coincide with my prayer walks in such a way that this area was impacted positively with different improvements and businesses along the route I had been asking God to heal and bless. I choose to believe that God is cleaning up the land and cleansing the spiritual environment. I believe these improvements will change not only the physical and social realities of our city for the better, but they will also prepare people’s hearts to receive the seeds of God’s Kingdom — his love, connection, intimacy, beauty, and more.
TAKING THE NEXT STEP
Here are a few simple steps to start praying for your own neighborhood or city:
1. Lay out a simple route — short or long, depending on how much time you have — and commit to walk it on a regular basis. This could be once a week, every other day, every evening after work, etc. Pick something that you know you can follow through on over time. This kind of consistency is powerful not only for the effectiveness of our prayers, but also for the fruit that we get to see as a result.
2. As you walk, you can pray out loud or silently to yourself. One simple thing to do is simply ask Jesus to walk with you and ask his Spirit to fall wherever your feet do. You might also bless specific houses, streets, businesses, etc. with his presence and his will.
3. As you get more comfortable with your route, start blessing the positive attributes you see around you: families connecting, kids playing, parks, gardens and grass, clean streets, places to eat, places of employment, street art, etc. As you bless these, also bless your route with what you do not yet see — the things that are unseen — such as peace, abundance, purpose, reconciliation, beauty, passion, selflessness, etc. Every neighborhood is unique in what its gifts and “sins” or shortcomings are. Pay attention to yours, and bless the people around you with what you believe God wants to give them.
4. Pay attention to how things change! Notice if more people are out and about, families spending more time together, businesses opening, street improvements and beautification projects happening, tenants taking better care of their homes, neighbors making kind gestures, etc. All of these are signs of God’s Kingdom. Praise him for what he is doing, and then ask him how you can start to practically jump in!
5. Finally, allow yourself to fall in love with the place and the people for whom you are praying. Jeremiah 29:7 says, "Seek the peace and prosperity of the city … pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Randy Gonzales and his wife, Doralicia, and their two daughters, live and serve in Málaga, Spain.
Click here to see pictures from Randy’s Prayer Walk Virtual Tour.