Over the past six years, Christ Otto and a team from his ministry Belonging House have been doing strategic prayer in Boston. They have seen a series of dramatic answers to prayer in the South End and in the area near the Massachusetts State House.
Today’s blog post is an excerpt from Christ’s report on these prayer initiatives called “Healing the Land.” The following points are the foundation of transforming prayer in cities and regions.
1. Listen to the Lord and Do what He tells you.
Effective prayer is a dialogue, and He who knows all is your best guide for each situation. We begin with scripture. Taking time for silence, waiting on God, and journaling has been helpful. I have found that God’s simple direction is better than a thousand strategic planning meetings.
2. Teamwork is essential.
The biggest breakthroughs have happened when someone gave me an insight I never considered. No one has all the answers and working in a team has helped us all hear God more clearly. The most helpful insights have come from people who live outside of Boston. Their fresh perspective often brought the breakthrough.
3. This is a ministry of healing and reconciliation.
Most of what we have done is address the specific things that release curses on the land–the shedding of innocent blood, sexual immorality, breaking of covenants, moving of boundary stones, and the breaking of relationships. When these sins are confessed and forgiven we can then invite God to heal the brokenness. You will notice that we did not hold large “reconciliation events.” Although we often had one person who represented the parties involved, we did not focus on trying to get parties together to have an event. All of the prayer has been strategic and precise, and often in almost secret.
4. There are no magic bullets.
One interesting aspect of this ministry has been hosting groups from outside Boston to pray in the city. Many times these visitors have come with the attitude that they have the “answer” and that if we would apply their “method” things would be done “right.” Most of the gimmicks have produced little or no lasting fruit. We have found that the long, low, humble road of obedience has been the game changer.
5. Being weird is not intercession.
My ministry Belonging House and the people I work with have a supernatural worldview. Sometimes we have had to depend on the simple direction of the Holy Spirit. Because I work with many groups I have seen how some have felt they needed shofars, flags, victory shouts, swords, or complicated “rituals” while they pray. Right up front, we have done all of these things at different times, but they are not the center. Sometimes prophetic acts are part of what we are doing as an expression of what God has already done.
6. The Cross of Jesus makes everything possible.
It is the finished work of the cross and applying of the Blood of Christ to the sin of the past that real change happens. As we openly confess sin, and our current agreement with it, and apply the forgiveness of the gospel, shifts begin to happen.
7. Listen to the Land.
We pray with our eyes open. We have taken time to learn the real history of where we are– and that means going into the library and doing research. It means getting to know the streets and terrain. It means knowing where and when things happened. Some of the delays in this process were because I did not do the right research in the beginning, and I trusted local “folklore” and polemical versions of history rather than accurate sources. Listening to the land has also involved noticing things like wildlife behavior, odd topography, and the wind. For example, we have noted dramatic gusts of wind during important breakthrough moments.
8. Praise and worship are our chief weapons.
Many times we have asked those with us not to enter into “intercession.” Most of this kind of prayer only reinforces the negative beliefs and judgements about a place or a situation. Praising God shifts the atmosphere in a given place and opens up our ability to pray and hear God. Entering into praise also gets us in tune with heaven, and God’s perspective. In praise we are able to pray from a place of triumph.
9. Authority comes from honor.
God directed me to spend almost two years giving honor to the people who prayed for me to come into New England, even though neither they nor I understood this at the time. I also sought permission to be on the land from the first nations people. By honoring and receiving this blessing, I have walked in a base level of authority that many ministries lack. Rebellion is the root of witchcraft. A culture of honor breaks this.
10. A large part of this ministry has been about “going low.”
We have taken the directions of Jesus to take the lower place at the banquet seriously. In praying on Beacon Hill, we chose to not take the road of political activism, and we have chosen not to build a ministry. We have simply walked and prayed. This story is a report of the outcome.
Christ Otto has recently published a book entitled An Army Arising and is also available to lead prayer tours of Boston and to share how prayer and creativity is transforming New England. Learn more about Christ’s ministry at belonginghouse.org