From the time we’re very young, many believers are taught to prepare for prayer with these instructions: “Fold your hands, close your eyes, and bow your heads.” It’s a great way to keep kids quiet for a moment while you bless a meal, but it’s not the only way to pray. In fact, I’ve found that doing the exact opposite is a great way to pray, as well: stand up, open your eyes, and walk around the neighborhood. Here are some reasons why:
1. Walking is good exercise. Staying active is vital to physical health. Praying is vital to spiritual health. Why not do both at the same time?
2. Walking engages the mind. A walk is great for inspiring creativity, including creativity in prayer. I think better when I’m moving rather than sitting still. I’m able to focus my thoughts and keep them focused for longer periods of time than when sitting. Others don’t necessarily think better when they move, but their minds work differently from when they sit, opening up new possibilities to tune in to God’s spirit.
3. Walking can make prayer more social. Walking and talking seem to compliment each other really well, and when you include God, they get even better. I frequently walk with someone else, whether it’s my son riding along in his stroller, or another believer that shares a similar interest in praying for our community. I’m able to be an example for my son of how to talk to God, and I’m able to learn from other believers as they speak the prayers God has put on their hearts.
4. Unexpected things can happen when you walk. God reveals himself surprisingly quickly when we go into the community and talk with him. It’s almost like he’s been waiting for us to join him in our neighborhoods, and when we do, he jumps out and yells “Here I am! Look what I’m doing over here! I want you to get in on this!”
5. God can make you the answer to someone else’s prayers when you walk. Sometimes as I’ve approached people on the street during my prayer walks, I’ve felt God prompt me to talk with them, leading to some pretty cool conversations. I’ve even been able to pray with them right there on the street.
6. “As a man prays, so he is.” AW Tozer was on to something. Sometimes, prayer can feel like a repetitive chore to check off the religious checklist for the day. Walking puts a different spin on prayer. As a friend of mine put it, “I believe there is an intentionality to getting out of your routine and location that moves us from religious repetition to relational conversation.”
There’s really no wrong way to prayer walk, but it can take some practice and some patience. It’s okay to test it out by yourself a couple times to get a feel for the right pace and distance. It can also take some time to get comfortable praying out loud while you walk around with your eyes open. Give it a few tries and see if God does something powerful through your prayers.