I've been taking my son on prayer walks around our neighborhood for a few months, and a funny thing has happened. To my eyes, the neighborhood hasn't changed much, but my prayer walking is changing.
On our most recent walk, I passed a guy working on his lawn. I said hello, threw out a quip about being productive, and kept on walking. As soon as he was out of my periphery, I got the idea that I should ask him if I could pray for him.
"Next person," I told myself as I continued on, speaking out loud my prayers as I pushed Nathan in the stroller.
A few streets later, Nathan pointed to a little girl standing in her driveway. Her mother was taking out the trash.
"That's a little girl, huh?" I commented, followed by a friendly "hello" to the mother. We were past the house before I remembered that I was going to ask if I could pray for her. I wondered if I was being forgetful or willfully negligent in passing up these opportunities.
Heading up our street to go back home, we saw one more person, a woman raking weeds in her front yard. I said hello and commented on her yard and her diligence. Before the conversation ended, I crossed to her side of the street and mentioned our mission for this walk.
"Our neighborhood needs it," she said.
Then I made my pitch: "I don't mean to push anything on you, but is there anything we could pray about for you?"
Without hesitation, our neighbor explained what was happening lately in her life, and how we might pray for her. We learned that she follows Jesus and she shared a good deal about her family. Before walking on, I prayed a quick prayer aloud for her requests, then wished her a good day.
Over all these months of praying over our streets, it's never once struck me to stop and pray with our neighbors. I've prayed for husbands, wives, parents, children, and I've prayed that God would reveal himself to our neighbors. I just didn't think that he wanted to reveal himself right there on the street during our prayer walk. I'll be walking a lot more carefully on our next walk.