Maybe prayer comes easily and naturally to you – but to this pastor, it does not. Prayer is a lot of work. Hard work. I’ve tried to sit in my office, fold my hands, bow my head and pray for an hour. But I can’t do it. I’ve tried.
Last week, I invited a fairly new believer to join me in a prayerwalk around town. He had a lot of questions about it. He wanted to do it, but was unsure about what to do, how to do it or where to do it. It was enjoyable and meaningful to walk the streets with him. During the prayerwalk, he thanked God that he didn’t own a car so that he could see town for what it is and not just behind a windshield. I think he is exactly right.
No doubt, prayer is essential to the life of anyone who is serious about the teachings of Jesus. Absolutely essential. And as a pastor it has to be the top priority for me. This is a continual area of growth for me. I constantly have to ask myself questions like:
- How can I reorient my schedule to reflect a life of prayer?
- Am I praying regularly for my city?
- Does my schedule reflect a life of prayer?
- What in my schedule do I think is more important than prayer?
- Am I saturating everything I do with prayer?
I pray best in four ways: (a) spontaneously as people and situations come to mind (b) with other people (c) journalling and (d) prayerwalking.
It’s the last one – prayerwalking – that is becoming a greater priority and important experience for me to remain intimately connected to Jesus. I bet for most people reading this, the first three areas are ways you might have experienced prayer before, but might have had little experience in prayerwalking.
The ancient rabbis said that you pray with your feet. And they meant that quite literally. Praying as you walk. It’s active. Experiential. Tactile. Physical.
I’m not an expert, but I have enjoyed making this a regular rhythm in my week. I was challenged to do this by a friend who is a church planter on the Upper West Side in New York City. Instead of taking the 12 minute subway ride from his apartment to his office) he walks – rain or shine – to his office (1 hour each way) every day. But he doesn’t walk; he prayerwalks. I was floored when I realized that he prays for his city for two hours.
I’m lucky if I can prayer walk a few times a week! It was his challenge that prompted me to participate in this and make this a regular part of my schedule. I’m so glad he did.
How do you do it? people ask me regularly. Not to be overly simplistic – nor sarcastic – it involves two very simple things: praying and walking. So simple, the excuses not to do it are miniscule. Over the next several posts I’ll be writing more reflections and answering specific questions that have come up repeatedly when people ask me about prayerwalking.