Shortly after Bob Beckett learned that the Hemet, California, property he planned to occupy had been a transcendental meditation hot zone, he pulled out an area map and marked the spot.

His finding eventually turned into a concerted, ongoing probe into the dark, spiritual underside of the desert community, southwest of Palm Springs. Beckett, who later planted a church in the city, believes that this spiritual reconnaissance—which he now recognizes as spiritual mapping—provided the fuel for focused prayer that not only unleashed church growth, but has begun to transform Hemet's social fabric.

Beckett's report was one of a half-dozen success stories presented to 400 participants from 31 countries at the first International Consultation on Spiritual Mapping in Tacoma, Washington, in November. Other descriptions of transformation came from Kenya, Nigeria, Colombia, Ecuador, and Guatemala, where Christians claim that a breaking of a territorial spirit's power over their country resulted in unprecedented church growth and the end of 36 years of civil war (CT, Feb. 3, 1997, p. 76).

A PRAYER TOOL: Spiritual mapping is a term coined in 1991 by the Tacoma meeting's organizer, George Otis, Jr., but enthusiastic proponents say it is really the reprise of an old practice that can help propel the church toward fulfillment of the Great Commission.

Spiritual mapping, says Otis, president of the research agency the Sentinel Group, is nothing more ethereal than creating a spiritual profile of a community based on careful research. It is a tool, he says, for intelligent prayer aimed at opening spiritually blind eyes to the gospel.

Otis poured seven years of global research into his new book, The Twilight Labyrinth: Why Does Spiritual ...

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