The world is now over 50% urban. According to Mike Davis in ‘Planet of Slums’, in 1950 there were 86 cities in the world with a population of more than one million; today there are 400, and by 2015 there will be at least 550. If cities are where the world’s population are moving then how can we respond in mission-focussed prayer?
What you need to get started:
- A large map
- A history text on your city (or the internet)
- Good walking shoes
- An open heart
Step One: Study
Get to know the place you live in. This may take a little research and an investment of time but the better you grasp the places and people that make up the urban landscape the more informed your prayers could be.
- Understand the History of your city: growth patterns, why it’s growing, who are the immigrants to the city, where did they settle and where do they work?
- Understand and map the different areas: downtown, blue collar neighbourhoods, ghettos, industrial parks, commercial areas, etc.
- Understand the power centres: political figures, police departments, religious leaders, media outlets, centres of commerce, finance, schools, and areas exploring the arts?
- Understand the spirituality of your city: what temples, churches, mosques and sacred monuments are there?
- Understand the social make-up: what ethnicities and social classes live and work in which areas?
Step Two: Walk
- Observe: the streets, different areas and people. What do you see?
- Meet People: find out what the needs are in the different communities, hear stories, ask questions.
- Pray: Walk the streets and ask God to show you what he sees and to know His heart.
Step Three: Pray and become the answer to your prayers
Now you have a good understanding of your city and the people within it, share your knowledge with your community. Decide how you will pray for the city personally, with friends and as a church community. Bless the good, pray for the leaders within it, and pray for God’s Kingdom to come and His will to be done in areas of deprivation or difficulty. If God particularly gives you a heart for a need or social challenge how could you and your church be part of God’s solution to the problem practically as well as prayerfully?