Our prayer team was introduced to the concept of praying on location for the nations by Marty Lombardo, a missionary to Italy. His main calling to Italy was, however, not as a missionary in typical evangelist fashion but as an intercessor. He established a regular routine of praying on location at the Vatican, the Parliament, and the President’s Palace.
At first he was persecuted by the police, but an Italian newspaper published an article questioning why the police would be beating on a man of prayer, and ultimately Marty actually became friends with his persecutors. Then there came a day when Parliament was evacuated because ofa car parked in the plaza, but Marty refused to leave his prayer assignment. God got the glory as the newspapers reported that the man of prayer kept praying and the car bomb never detonated.
Marty was called to pray for the government, the Mafia, the Catholic Church, and Christian reconciliation. And, while few of his prayers were answered as dramatically as the car bomb incident, he has seen governmental corruption exposed, the Mafia’s chokehold broken, the Catholic Church revive, and a genuine move of reconciliation between the Protestants and Catholics.
We were privileged to join Marty’s intercessory ministry by taking a prayer journey to Rome in 1995. There we discovered that our intercession was brought to a new level by being present where the need could be seen. This experience of praying “on site with insight” makes the prayer journey a uniquely effective way to pray for the nations.
We have returned to Italy many times since 1995, building relationships, teaching, and even evangelizing. But we were never again called to make a prayer journey to Italy. Instead, God moved on our team to go to other nations, as well as locations in the U.S., to pray “on site with insight.”
One of our most memorable prayer journeys was a trip our team took to England and Ireland in 1998. This trip provides an illustration of the elements of a prayer journey.
Go with God’s calling.
Just as Paul and Barnabas were called by God for their missionary work while at a prayer meeting in Antioch (Acts 13:2), so a prayer journey must begin with a ca11 from God. The ca11 to go to England and Ireland came to our team members separately and jointly in corporate prayer. Over the next few months the team got a clearer understanding of exactly where to go, but scheduling the trip proved difficult as one suggested date after another was rejected.
It was not until after the date was set and the tickets were bought that the reason for God’s timetable became clear. Our team was scheduled to arrive in the midst of a climatic confrontation between the Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. We would never have taken such a risk had not God’s call and His timetable been revealed to us.
Go under authority.
Paul and Barnabas did not begin their journey until they had been sent out by the Antioch Church (13:3) and they held themselves accountable to the Antioch Church when they returned (14:27). If Paul submitted himself to his church, how much more should we. Our team operates under the covering of our church elders, and our trips are submitted to their review. Once, when we were planning a prayer journey to Israel, our elders vetoed the trip because the Intifada had broken out. After things bad settled down a bit our elders allowed the trip to proceed, and we had a safe and successful journey, thanks to the protection of operating under authority.
In addition to our own church, we normally try to obtain an invitation and covering from a pastor or other spiritual authority in the destination nation. This additional covering strengthens our authority in prayer and, brings another layer of protection to the team. We have found that many intercessors who experience “backlash,” or suffer in the aftermath of a prayer journey, have not submitted themselves to proper spiritual authority prior to undertaking the prayer assignment.
Go in unity.
The great prayer principle of agreement (Mt. 18:19-20) is vital for a successfu1 prayer journey. A time of team bonding, such as the time of worship and fasting at Antioch prior to sending out Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:2), is necessary to: bring the team into agreement. Often a small group will be more successful than a large group because unity is much easier to achieve in a small group.
For our trip to England and Ireland we chose a team of five. Three of the, group had prayed together regularly for years and were veterans of other prayer journeys together. The other two members were from the next generation submitted and willing to learn from the more experienced intercessors.
Bless and do not curse.
We believe that we are called to be a blessing and that our intercessors should bless and not curse (1 Pet. 3:9-11). Some have taught that we should curse the spiritual principalities and powers, but out experience has been that cursing:, often brings “backlash,” in the form of a curse back upon the intercessor. We believe that these principalities exist because the people living in darkness elect to follow them. Prayers of blessing can open the blinded eyes, letting light scatter the darkness.
In the case of our trip to England and Ireland, the darkness we faced was caused by centuries of religious and ethnic violence. We prayed for repentance for both sides and asked God to cleanse the land of its bloodshed. We prayed in places where wars had been launched and battles had been fought, asking God to bring peace to a situation which was poised to explode into violence.
Expect God to meet you there.
Just as Abraham began his journey depending on God to show him where to go (Gen. 12:1), so we begin our prayer journeys depending on God to show us how to pray when we arrive. That is not to say that there is no preparation for a prayer journey. On the contrary a study of the history and culture of a nation can yield vital clues concerning its prayer needs. However, even the most thoroughly researched journey will depend on God’s revelation on site for success.
The England and Ireland trip is a good illustration of the need for God’s guidance in the nations because the confrontation in Northern Ireland was unanticipated by die team when the prayer journey was organized. lt was on the first leg of the journey, in England, that the team became aware that their prayer assignment was directed toward the conflict which was scheduled to occur as Protestants marched to celebrate the Protestant triumph over the Catholic forces at the Battle ofthe Boyne in 1690. God’s hand was evident as the team realized that they were landing in Dublin, Ireland on the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.
The crisis in Northern Ireland deepened as the Protestants assembled in a field with weapons and bombs, preparing to force their way through hostile Catholic neighborhoods. Then, a horrible incident occurred where a child was murdered in a fire bombing. Yet it seemed that this murder brought everyone to their senses.
The Protestant militants abandoned their plans to march. Some even left their weapons and bombs in the field where they had gathered. We had seen a miraculous change take place, as peace emerged from die near disaster. Our prayers, along with many thousands of others, were powerfully answered and peace between the Irish Protestants and Catholics has been advancing since that day, as evidenced by an August 2007 article in Charisma magazine titled “Christians Say Prayer Is Behind Peace Deal.”
What a joy it was for our team to participate in a prayer assignment where our prayers were added to those of both Protestants and Catholics. seeking God’s help for reconciliation. Such immediate and dramatic answers; to prayer are seldom seen. Most of the time the prayer team is planting seeds: sometimes of evangelism, sometimes of reconciliation, sometimes of forgiveness, sometimes of protection, but always of blessing. God sends others to bring the seeds to fruition, and we rejoice as we see the answers t our prayers manifested in the nations.
God is looking for intercessors who are obedient to His call, working under authority and in unity to bless the nations God will take such people on prayer journeys that will change the destinies of nations and shake whole world.
Questions for Further Thought or Discussion
1. Why would God call intercessors from one nation to go pray in nation?
2. What advantages are there to being present in the nation when you praying?
3. Can you think of a nation for which you have a prayer burden that cc lead to a prayer journey?
The author: Pat Allen is President of Corporate Prayer Resources in Dallas, Texas
SUGGESTED ADDITIONAL READING
Crawford, Dan and Calvin Miller. Prayerwalking: A Journey of Faith. Chatanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002.
Otis, George Jr., ed. Strongholds of the 1040 Window. Seattle, WA: YWA Publishing, 1995.
Richardson, Don. Eternity in Their Hearts. Ventura, CA: Regal, 1981.
1. ‘The phrase “praying on site with insight” is the subtitle of a book Steve Hawthorne and Graham Kendrick, entitled, Prayerwalking: Praying on Site with Insight, (Orlando, FL: Creation House, 1993).
Taken from Giving Ourselves to Prayer, (c) 2008 PrayerShop Publishing. Used by Permission.