In Luke chapter 8 verse 11, Jesus compares the word of God to a seed planted in soil. As Jesus told the parable of the soils to the disciples, He described how different types of soil responded to the seed of the word in different ways. Just as we would prepare the soil of a garden in order to grow healthy plants, so the "soil" of a particular city or region needs to be prepared in order to see the seed of the gospel take root and bear fruit. It doesn't make sense to throw seed on concrete, so why do we think seeds of the gospel will bear fruit when thrown out in an environment that has not been plowed and cultivated spiritually?
If we take the analogy of a garden we can begin to see the steps that help prepare the soil to receive the seed. First, the hard ground must be broken up and plowed. Next, the rocks and roots need to be removed. Thirdly, the seeds are planted. Then there must be water, fertilizer, sunshine, and constant vigilance to pull out the weeds. The birds of the air must be prevented from digging up and stealing the seeds, and patience must be exercised as the seeds begin to take root and grow.
Hosea 10:12 says, "Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on you." We see when Jesus came the first time, that John the Baptist was sent before Him to prepare the way. John's message was, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt. 3) Repent means, "change the way you think" and recognize that God is your creator and your king. He calls people to turn from their own ways and acknowledge Him as Lord and King of their lives.
We can start by plowing the ground in our own heart and asking the Lord to reveal the areas where we need to change our minds and come into agreement with Him. Then we will be able to pray on behalf of our families, neighbors, and communities. We should be willing to pray the same things for ourselves that we are praying for others. As we humble ourselves and repent, we will then be able to identify with those around us and ask the Lord to grant grace and forgiveness to them as well.
In the book of Daniel chapter 10 we see that Satanic principalities can control territories on the earth and actually impede the flow of revelation from God's throne. It took Daniel 21 days of prayer and fasting to break through and receive the answers to his prayers. This does not mean that we must all do what Daniel did, but this is one example of how to achieve spiritual breakthrough. As always, we must listen to the instruction of the Holy Spirit in any given situation. Satanic entrenchments can greatly impede the progress of the gospel and only God can show us how to pull down the strongholds that are blocking His word from going forth in power and bearing fruit that remains. Two modern day examples of Satanic entrenchment are the nation of Japan and the Islamic nations. Japan has been known for years as the "graveyard of missionaries" because there has been very little response to the gospel compared to the numbers of missionaries who have attempted to evangelize in that nation. The Islamic nations are another example of a major stronghold where we are just now starting to see the spiritual climate change.
In order for people to truly change the way they think and to understand their need for God, the Holy Spirit must draw and enlighten them. As we pray for whole cities full of people, the presence of the Holy Spirit is released to hover over the area and woo their hearts to God. Just as John the Baptist prepared the way for the Lord, so we too can help prepare the way for the Lord to come to them through the Holy Spirit and respond to His invitation of salvation. As we wait on the Lord, He can show us which parts of our city are most open to hearing the gospel and which people are ripe for harvest. Jesus did only what He saw the Father do and said only what He heard the Father say (John 12:49; John 5:19). As a result, He made maximum impact on the people around Him. If Jesus needed to do that, can we say we have no need of doing that as well? How did Jesus know what to say and do? He had to listen to God. Amos 3:7 says, "Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets."
When the Lord first brought me to Atlanta, He reminded me of the verse in Jeremiah that says to pray for the welfare of the city to which the Lord sends you, for in its welfare will be your welfare (Jer. 29:7). Where do you start to pray for a huge city like Atlanta? As I pondered this, the Lord began to lead me to information that would help target my prayers. Someone recommended a book by Cindy Jacobs called Possessing the Gates of the Enemy and I learned about the concept of spiritual mapping. I decided to start by reading about the history of Atlanta and learn more about why the city was built and what its original purpose was. Then the Lord impressed on me that I should watch the news regarding Atlanta because He would speak to me through events and issues brought out by the media. He revealed things about the spiritual climate in Atlanta and gave me strategies for prayer. Eventually I was able to hook up with a prayer group and we began to pray for revival in Atlanta. We knew we were only one small group of hundreds, maybe thousands, who were crying out for the same thing. The Lord continues to lead me on an exciting voyage of discovery and I encourage you to enter into the adventure. As we all join together and share our piece from the Lord, He will begin to compose a picture that will lead us to breakthroughs in our cities and our nation. May His will be done on earth as it is in heaven!
Spiritual mapping is not an end in itself, it is simply a tool that enables us to gather information that aids us in praying and evangelizing more effectively. We need to share this information with each other and move together as a corporate body of believers if we are going to see an entire city or region reached for the Lord. As we share and connect with each other, the Lord can begin to reveal the strategies and plans He has for bringing in the harvest.
Listed below are some of the ways you can begin gathering information to pray over and take before the Lord. Ask Him to give you targets and strategies that will result in breakthrough and transformation, that He might be glorified.
Spiritual Mapping Reconnaissance Tools:
- History books - check the public library
History museums - some of these also have libraries with archives
Newspapers - current and archived articles (public libraries often subscribe to newspaper archives)
Interview elderly residents
Title search to see who owned a particular piece of property
Look at a map of the area - note any unusual layouts or formations
Look at an aerial photo of the area - aerial photos of most areas can be found on the internet
Look at the geography of the area - is it near a river? Near mountains? On the seacoast? Geography affects the history of the area and the kind of events that occurred as well as the type of people who settled in the area.
Look at public works of art - statues, sculptures, paintings - especially large scale paintings on buildings - etc.
Look at the architecture - notice anything unusual?
Drive the area - are you sensing anything spiritually?
Check statistics - crime stats, accident stats, poverty stats, education stats etc. - most of these can be
found on the internet
Internet surfing - much history, statistical information, and current news can be found here!
Ask God to show you what is going on that is positive - even when you see the negative, remember it is usually a misused positive.
Ask lots of questions! When was this city founded? Who founded it? What was the ethnic background of the founding residents? Were there any battles fought in the area? Were there any atrocities/bloodshed on the land? Who are the "movers and shakers" of the city? Who were they in the past? Etc.
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what you need to know in order to pray effectively.
Share with others who are interested in transformation. God will begin bringing pieces together that result in amazing revelation.
Ask the Lord to show you how to walk out your prayers and be a vessel who is transformed personally in order to be a carrier of His glory!
Once you have gathered the information, begin to look for patterns such as persistent poverty, high crime rates, entrenched immorality, etc. Ask the Lord to reveal root issues that opened the doors for evil to invade an area. Ask Him to show you the redemptive gifts that have been perverted. Ask Him to show you how to address the issues that have been revealed. Ask Him who you should connect with in order to maximize the impact of the gospel on the community.
We serve an awesome God. So dig in, have fun, and watch our mighty God do wonderful things!