People such as George Otis Jr. (Informed Intercession, 1999) have made much of this understanding plain. We can say that:
it is an attempt to see our region as it really is, not as it appears: For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to the light (Mark 4:22) it is the using of diagnostic tools (prayer, revelation and research) to discover the inroads that Satan has made that blocks the spread of the Gospel, and in particular the historic bondages that resist the presence of Christ.
Victor Lorenzo says that spiritual mapping combines research, divine revelation, and confirmatory evidence in order to provide complete and exact data concerning the identity, strategies and methods employed by spiritual forces of darkness to influence the people and the churches in a given region.
Harold Caballeros says that what an X-ray is to a physician, spiritual mapping is to intercessors.
It reveals the conditions behind enemy lines. In other words, spiritual mapping can be described as seeing a city or town, community or region from God’s perspective. And that includes its redemptive call, the seed sown into it by the early pioneers and how the enemy has gained legal ground there.
What spiritual mapping is not:
- Spiritual Mapping is not an end in itself – it is a means to an end. Jesus, in giving the Great Commission, did not say go into all the world and spiritually map. Mapping is a tool to help us accomplish His desire of the Gospel transforming lives and people
- It is not demon hunting or searching for names of demons, although the Holy Spirit will reveal names and /or identities where He feels we need to know.
- It is not a one person task, but teamwork.
- It is not about learning a lot of principals and carrying them out, but about doing the God appointed thing for your city.
- It is not the only way that God works in transforming the city, but it is a major component.
- It is not conclusions based on inadequate investigations. It must be done properly.
- It is not spiritual warfare, but a preparation for it.
What is the purpose of spiritual mapping?
The main purpose is to give information that helps sustain fervent intercession and pave the way for effective evangelism. George Otis Jnr calls this “informed intercession”.
- To see the city released from the strongholds of the enemy – enabling evangelism to be effective by first binding the strongman.
- To see the city transformed by the Gospel and the power of God.
- To see God’s Kingdom come in a greater way in our city.
- To see the redemptive call of our city realized.
- To see nations, regions, and communities released.
We see it in the example of the spies going in to the land (Numbers 13:1-2, 17-20). They come back with details about the location of the people (Numbers 13:29); Paul in Athens (Acts 17:16, 22-23) takes time to see the city before making an entry to it.
These Scriptures are not exact examples of spiritual mapping, but give the principle. The Bible often does not give us a program to follow:
- otherwise we would do the program but for the wrong reasons (reducing it to a tradition)
- it keeps us focused on the main issue of proclaiming Jesus
- we have to dig beyond biblical texts to a theology that then helps us read the texts experience is to shape us: experience that is judged in the light of Scripture (Acts 15 and the relevance of the law to Gentile converts is a good example here)
Land and History
The theology that undergirds spiritual mapping is that there are events in history that shape a geography spiritually.
John 10:40-42 is a key Scripture on this:
In chapter 7 Jesus moves from Galilee to Jerusalem. There the response to him is negative. He is called a sinner, a Samaritan and even described as demonised. The response is negative for Jerusalem has become the city that rejects the prophets. The history there has impacted the geography spiritually.
But in the last three verses of chapter 10 there is an overwhelming response as people believe in him ‘in that place’. There is a continual underlining of the shift in geography. I embolden each part:
He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptising earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him and they were saying John performed no sign but everything that John said about this man was true. And many believed in him there.
Six geographical references and one historic one: John had been baptising earlier.
Using word association most Christians if given the word ‘heaven’ would instantly associate the word ‘hell’ with it. Understandable as those are tied to issues of eternal destinies. However, in Scripture it is normally heaven and earth that are associated, they are compared and contrasted.
It is our prayer that the kingdom of heaven will come to the earth.
The earth is given to humanity to steward: Psalm 115:16. Our stewardship will either bring a blessing to the world or it will curse it. Adam’s original sin caused the land to be cursed (Gen. 3:17).
The relationship between the people and the land is consistent in Scripture. (Rooted in Adam, seen in Cain). And this is not just an issue of Israel and the Promised Land:
Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, for by all these practices the nations I am casting out before you have defiled themselves. Thus the land became defiled; and I punished it for its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you shall keep my statutes and my ordinances and commit none of these abominations, either the citizen or the alien who resides among you (for the inhabitants of the land, who were before you, committed all of these abominations, and the land became defiled); otherwise the land will vomit you out for defiling it, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. For whoever commits any of these abominations shall be cut off from their people. So keep my charge not to commit any of these abominations that were done before you , and not to defile yourselves by them: I am the LORD your God. (Lev. 18:24-30).
There are four primary sins that pollute the land:
- Sexual Immorality
- Broken Covenant
When these take place there is a pollution and there follows a process of an increasing draw of pollution to the land. There will be a resistance to the people of God living there in righteousness. The effect is of layering on the land.
What is here today will be rooted in history. The manifestation is on the surface – the root is beneath.
So a study of the history of the land and its peoples is crucial in spiritual mapping. We must be able to understand the mind set, habits, and customs of the “original” people. So part of the research will be concentrated on finding out the unrighteous practices and beliefs of the original inhabitants. We often have to deal with whatever strongholds the original residents opened the door to through their sin.