A few weeks ago, our Sunday class at Central chose to go on a prayer walk. We met first in our classroom and then were divided into groups to walk and pray on assigned streets around our building.
In some ways, our group was a motley crew. Kim, who has been coming to class and church for several months; Rob, who, in recovery, started at our free dinners on Wednesday nights and now comes every Sunday and is totally and enthusiastically involved; Steve, my husband, the now retired preacher there for 42 years; Mariah, a teenager who has attended everything possible for several months; and Victoria, a teen who grew up in our church and whose mother came to stay with us for a few days after Victoria was born. New and familiar, young and old, and in between.
We were given t-shirts that said “Prayer Team.” I was embarrassed by the idea. To me, it smacked of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees that Jesus condemned, saying, “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward” (Matthew 6:5.)
But I try to cooperate, so I wore my bright blue t-shirt, as did all but Kim. I didn’t realize that she wasn’t wearing one until we had left the building, and I was humbled and felt a bit chastised that I hadn’t stood by my beliefs and not worn one. I’ll know the next time. When our leadership team talked about the shirts, for some reason I expected the name of our church or a scripture rather than “Prayer Team.”
We were given few instructions: sample prayers or pray as you wish, aloud or silently. The printed prayers we were given were carefully worded and powerful. Here is an example:
Lord, our Redeemer, bring revival to our city. I pray for spiritual revival, bringing repentance, restoration, joy, peace, love, and a renewed focus on You. May that revival begin in my own heart and spirit right now. May we be a city of lights, set on a hill, waking in Your ways. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
We walked a while on our assigned street, then stopped under a shady tree and I prayed for our walk and our prayers to bear fruit. After passing a few more houses, I asked Mariah to read one of the prayers, which she did nicely.
It was a hot July day, so we always stopped in shade. At various locations, someone read one of the prayers or prayed their own.
We passed a woman who was unloading her groceries from the back of her car, up the sidewalk, and into her house. Steve and I greeted her and got out of her way; Kim and Rob each took an armload of groceries into the house for her. Again, I was humbled.
We stopped at a large house that I believe to be a “half-way house” for recovering addicts. I made the point that we are all in recovery in some sense or another and prayed that they and we could follow through with determination to improve our lives and be closer to God. My tears flowed for all in recovery, and Kim sweetly put her arm around me.
Rather than retrace our steps, we made three left turns to return to the church in time for worship. The second turn put us in front of a familiar house where one of our deceased members had lived. Her son, who had continued to live there, had died recently, so I prayed for the family in their grief and especially that they would turn to God with their whole hearts. Again, I had trouble speaking through my tears. Mariah put her arm around me. It’s interesting how the human touch can help to stabilize me when the tears flow.
We returned to the church building and enjoyed sharing with the others who had either walked or stayed at the building to pray. We all agreed that praying for the neighbors is something we need to do more often, however we choose to do it. I’m looking forward to the next one, the fifth Sunday in October. Who knows what the physical weather or our spiritual forecast will be by then!