Note: This blog is based on an email article I sent to the members of my church this week. As part of our Texas Hope 2010 participation, we challenged our people to begin prayer walking their neighborhoods. Last Sunday we took pages from the Canyon Telephone book and asked our people to pray name by name for the individuals, families and business listed.
18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. Matt 4:18-20 (NIV)
In the modern world of horseless carriages most of us rarely ever walk anywhere, except when we speed walk for exercise with earplugs and mp3 players creating background music to our huffing and puffing. Walking has become old fashioned. We circle the Wal-mart parking lot or the lot outside the Activity Center six times looking for the nearest parking place so we don’t have to walk too far. I fear driving has robbed us of more than cash in our wallets when we pull up to the pump. I fear driving has robbed us of the gift of community and wonder.
Jesus walked most everywhere he traveled. His annual treks from Nazareth to Jerusalem were more than walks around the block, they were closer to pilgrimages. On these journeys of the heart Jesus had time to stop and smell the sweet smells of the country side. He saw the poor, blind, and lame lining the streets of the cities and villages. He overhead the sights and sounds of the city, and took time to stop and talk to people along the trail. His paths were much too slow for those calibrated to the modern speed of life, but his paths were in step with the ebb and flow of a life in the Spirit.
Next time you read through the gospels, notice how many times Jesus “stumbles” into a ministry opportunity by “accident” as He is walking along. Notice how he was willing to change plans, and meet people in the streets. How what was urgent to some could be delayed for the opportunity of the moment and the life that could be changed with a word or a gentle touch.
This week many of us took up the challenge of prayer walking our neighborhoods. As you walk the streets and lanes around your house. Pay attention to what you see around you. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with the neighbor you “accidentally” bumped into on the street. Buy lemonade from a child, and listen to his or her story about what they are going to do with their treasure, and don’t be afraid to pay concession stand prices for your paper cup of watery lemonade. It will be an investment in a child worth making. Look for boats, motorcycles, old cars, and toys in the yard. Each item will tell a story and will help you pray more effectively for those who call this house their home.
Prayer walking is really “Jesus walking”. It is learning from the Master the importance of slowing down and noticing the people all around you. It also gives your friends and neighbors a good chance to get a look at you, so you will no longer be the stranger that magically appears pulling his or her car out of the garage only to go back into your box when you get home in the evening.
I fear the modern small town is still small, but it is no longer the village of friends and neighbors it once was. Our front porches have been replaced with backyard decks and our closest confidants email or text us but rarely speak to us face to face. Jesus did ministry in a “face to face” world, and I believe the best ministry is still done that way.
Enjoy your walk, and don’t be surprised if you return home more changed than your neighbors.