Walking with Intention
Prayer walking…intentionally invites people to go to the site of their
concern: the office, the conference room, the dining room, the kitchen,
the school, the hospital, the government buildings. The immediacy of
context can fuel prayer and offer a way for listening more deeply
to God, to what his concerns for this place might be.
-- From Adele Ahlberg Calhoun Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us
Like many this spring, I found myself doing a lot of walking. Some of it was purposeful, but much of it had been just to have a distraction. Even though we were still relatively early into the pandemic, frustrations were swelling all around me, and I was finding myself getting caught up in a cacophony of news and social media posts about COVID-19.
An opportunity arose to participate in the New Mexico Pilgrimage for Unity’s virtual “Pilgrimage in Place” on Pentecost weekend. I decided to try prayer walking as a way of getting some clarity and lifting up my community in these confusing times. My goal was to pray for unity through an awakening to compassion and caring for others, focusing on some of the division stemming from the pandemic.
I found a liturgy for Christian unity online (https://justiceunbound.org/liturgical-resources-for-the-week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity/) and plotted out a route that would take me to six historic churches in downtown Lexington, Kentucky. My plan was to stop by my home church to ask for God’s guidance and blessing, then drive to my starting point. At each church I visited, I would read a prayer from the liturgy and spend some time considering the words that stood out to me. Between stops, I would be as open as I could to whatever God wanted me to see or hear.
Leading up to my planned walk, the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd had shown light on the long-standing, deep wound of racism in our country. When I began my walk, my original goal of praying for unity stayed the same, but the focus changed. I was moved by what God showed me about myself during this experience, and I wanted to put together a tool that others with an interest in racial equity and justice could use in their own neighborhoods or communities.
To that end, I located prayers being shared online that seemed to speak to the concerns and issues I have been seeing and hearing most, and I excerpted and adapted them for use with the kind of prayer walk I tried. You can find a link to the resulting resource at the bottom of this post. It contains prayers for six stops and could be used in any setting.
If you try using this particular resource to do a prayer walk of your own, I would encourage walking in a place that is meaningful to you. To deepen your experience, the document includes scriptures and sample reflections based on some of the things that spoke to me when I walked.
Finally, I am grateful beyond words for Dawn Goodman, who made me aware of and encouraged me in the New Mexico Pilgrimage for Unity; my husband Steve, who gave me the space and time to pursue this project; and for Christine Stanley, Rosalind Harris, and Eric Hughes, who lovingly gave their time and valuable feedback to help me bring it to a place where it felt ready to share.
God’s grace be with you as you walk and pray! If you have questions or suggestions, please feel free to comment below or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This resource was created in August, 2020. I do see it as a living document. If changes are made based on feedback I receive, I will update the file here in the post, adding the revision date in the file name.