For the last fifteen years, our church has regularly opened its doors and sent 150 to 200 prayer warriors onto the streets. Our mission: to call on the power of God and to bring hope to a discouraged community.
Our method involves groups of three people praying spontaneously and conversationally on a subject. There are no amens and no prolonged speeches.
I tell my people, "Look, I'm not spiritual enough to concentrate while the guy next to me goes on for ten minutes. And I know you're not, so let's not pretend we are." So each person keeps his prayers short. Just like a conversation, there's back-and-forth but the subject stays focused.
When we're out on the street, we pray for what we see as we walk: "Lord, we pray for that school. Help those kids, Lord."
"Bring the kids to you, Jesus. Tear down the walls in their hearts, and bring them to you."
"And the teachers, Lord. Give them patience. Give them wisdom. Help them love the kids."
"Keep them safe, Jesus."
Or it might focus on the people we interact with:
"Father, we lift up Mo, here, in Jesus' name. Fill his life with you."
"Give him peace, O God. Take away that fear, and let him know you're with him."
Levels of prayer
On a typical night of prayer meeting, we take prayer to the street in one of three ways. Each involves progressively more vulnerability.
1. Prayer en masse. The safest and least intimidating type of prayer we do is the mass march. We group together in threes so we can walk together along the sidewalk, and all of us head out in one long line, walking and praying. For the most part, urban people are used to seeing strange things, so there isn't much reaction.
Sometimes someone will call out, "Hey, who are you guys?" and a triplet or two will peel off to explain what we're up to. Sometimes cars will slow down to see what we're protesting, looking for picket signs. We don't march for causes or publicity, but to cover the community in prayer.
We once had someone get upset and call their alderman, who in turn called the police, who in turn drove by to question us. But we just peeled off a triplet to talk with the officer, and the rest kept on marching.
2. Squadrons. Our second approach is slightly more intimidating for our marchers, but it also allows us to focus our prayers on key areas. Before we leave the church, we break the group into squads of 10 to 15 triplets and send various squads out in specific directions.
We usually send a squad each of the four directions: north, south, east, and west. But we also send squads to any area where prayer may be specifically needed. Maybe there's been some drug traffic. Or maybe there's a false religion gaining a foothold on a certain block. We've even contacted the police to find out the "hot-zones" and concentrated prayer there.
3. Def con three. The third way we march is the most intimidating, but also allows the most opportunity for direct community impact. On the nights we engage in "Level 3" prayer, I ask for prayer captains to come forward and line up along the front of the church.
Our captains are people who have been through all three kinds of prayer and are confident enough to lead a triplet. They have a real passion for praying for the people on the street. We don't have a formal training program; I don't keep a list. I just call for the volunteer captains and they come.
Once 50 or so captains have gathered at the front of the church, I announce, "Each of these people needs two partners. If you're willing, please come and join them now." Then I send the triplets out.