Vital Families in Schools: Churches Plan for “Prayer Walks” Around Schools and Surrounding Neighborhoods Before School Starts
By: Mary Carol Pederson
Pastor Greg Ferguson and Larry Daniel have been a part of a team leading a powerful, long-term Prayer Walk initiative at First LR, a campus of First NLR Assembly of God Church. “We have a group that walks around the neighborhoods surrounding Chicot Elementary School (their church’s partner school) and prays for each house as the group walks. The group puts a door hanger on the door letting them know that they have been prayed for, asking for any specific prayer needs, and a way to contact their church. One side is in English and the other side is in Spanish.” This is a three-year effort for the small church, and they have covered about 6,000 homes in southwest Little Rock in prayer over the past year and a half. And, three of their other campuses have started doing the same thing in their areas.
Larry shares this special connection with one family during a recent prayer walk:
I had a kid watching me last Saturday. I was on the other side of the street. When I got to his house, he said, “I want one of them!” referring to the door hangers. I said, “Well, here’s what they are,” and described them. He was probably about 10 or 12. I told him, “We are just out praying for our neighborhood.” He said, “Will you pray for my grandma?” I said, “Absolutely. Do you mind if we pray now?” He replied, “No, that’s fine.” And then his mom comes out, and I explain to her why I was talking to her son and said, “Sorry for interrupting your Saturday.” She confirmed, “Yes, my mom has pancreatic cancer, and it’s critical.” So, I had the opportunity to pray with them, and then I wrote down her address, and plan to send a card this week just to let her know that we continue to pray for her mom and their family.
And, the Prayer Walks are increasing the congregation’s understanding of and compassion for areas previously considered “places to avoid.” Larry goes on to say,
Our prayer walks have changed people’s perceptions of southwest Little Rock. One week our plan was to walk around one of the rougher parts of southwest Little Rock, where, if there are shootings, it often happens in that area. There was one lady who was hesitant because of the ongoing violence. But, by the end of it she said, ‘You know, this is really okay.’ She realized that what she thought the neighborhood was, was not the reality.
In praying specifically for schools, Larry shares, “Last year we prayed for Baseline Elementary. We provided a detailed list of what we want our people to pray for, as well as a list of administrators, staff, and teachers for them to pray for. We are intentional – it’s not just ‘God bless the school.’”
Do you want to organize a “Prayer Walk” for your church and your partner school?
- Choose a date and time (could be for an hour the Sunday afternoon/early evening before the first day of school) and reach out to the school administrators to let them know of your plan to pray for their school on-site during non-school hours. You can ask for any prayer requests they may have for the staff, students, and families of the school, and their hopes for this upcoming school year.
- Invite members from your church to come with their families and join in a prayer walk around the school and neighborhood. It could be just a group of your church friends, or a larger appeal to the whole church. Invite your school contacts as well, if they wish to come.
- Provide a prayer guide (CityChurch Network’s August Prayer Guide will be perfect) and roster of school staff for those in attendance at the Prayer Walk. You could have someone bring a guitar and sing some songs of praise where others could sing along.
- Consider having a few people write a short note of encouragement to each staff person and let them know that you have prayed for them. You can drop off the notes to the school the first week.
As you consider planning a Prayer Walk, keep in mind that it changes and blesses those who participate as much or more as those who are lifted up in prayer! It’s also an opportunity to engage the hearts of your congregation toward your partner school – and to make sure that school is covered in prayer and teachers are encouraged.
For more information and resources, please reach out to Mary Carol Pederson, who leads our Vital Families in Schools Initiative, at firstname.lastname@example.org.