Prayer Walking: Learning to WalkMarcus Verbrugge
/Wednesday, October 19, 2022
Just before my granddaughter turned two, she learned how to walk. Most of us learn to walk around that age, and when you are that young, learning to walk is the development of a brand-new skill that opens whole new worlds to be discovered and enjoyed.
We tend to lose that joy as we get older.
The same dynamic is at work in our prayer lives. As new Christians, we discover the wonder and joy of talking to God, but somehow as the years pass the joy of prayer and the wonder of prayer somehow seem to get misplaced.
Just like walking, prayer somehow tends to drift into a mundane activity. It becomes just a way to get somewhere in life, and a way that at times, we are even reluctant to take.
Oswald Chambers said of prayer:
“No spiritual exercise is such a blending of complexity and simplicity. It is the simplest form of speech that infant lips can try, yet (also) the sublimest strains that reach the Majesty on high. It is as appropriate to the aged philosopher as to the little child.”
So it is, and so it is with prayer-walking too.
Prayer-walking is something we can all do. A child can do it. Youth can do it. The aged can do it. Even the mobility challenged can participate from their homes using Google Street View!
Prayer-walking can also be a powerful tool of discipleship, a pre-cursor of evangelism, and even be a prophetic act. Prayer-walking has as many forms and expressions as walking does, but the easiest and most common form is exactly what it sounds like: prayer, while we walk.
Prayer-walking is the use of our outside environment in our devotional lives. There is a very strong Biblical precedent for doing that.
- Genesis 3:8 tell us that God used to walk in the garden in the cool of the day. We can infer from that, that Adam and Eve had a habit of walking and talking with Him before the fall.
- In Genesis 15, God took Abram outside to show him the stars of the night sky, and Abram talked to God as he walked in the night, confessing his fear to the Lord.
- The Lord ministered to Elijah after a long walk in the desert when Elijah was depressed and despondent in 1 Kings 19.
- The two confused and upset disciples in Luke 24 had a deep conversation with Jesus as they walked along the road to Emmaus.
There are many more such cases, but those brief examples show us people prayer-walking in different seasons of their spiritual lives, at different times of the day and with different needs foremost in their minds.
A Dialogue with God
In all cases though, we see this common thread – people had a dialogue with God. They didn’t just lecture Him or talk at Him.
They spoke and they listened.
To prayer-walk is to do both! To speak, and then listen.
Speaking to Him is the easy part – just talk as you would with another walking with you. Speak to Him about what is going on in your soul, about the challenges you face and about the things He is doing – both in you and in your circles of influence.
Listening is a newer skill for some. As you walk, pause and ask the Lord what He is saying to you through your environment - through what you see, what you hear, what you sense and feel. More often than not, the Lord will direct your gaze or use something in your environment to remind you of something He said to you earlier in His Word - of His care, His love and His compassion. Perhaps He will express His passion and great mercy for the lost around you in a new and fresh way you hadn’t thought of before. Whatever He says, it will be meaningful. For He always speaks with purpose!
6 Things You Need to Prayer-Walk
There are six things you need to prayer-walk:
1. A PRAY-ER (the person who ‘does’ the prayer-walk)
2. A ROUTE (where you will walk)
3. TIME (to prepare for and complete the walk)
4. FUEL (the content of prayer – and again, in prayer-walking 101 you want to practice giving the Lord time to respond to you)
5. PRACTICALITIES (appropriate shoes and clothing)
6. COMMON SENSE (without which you shouldn’t be prayer-walking at all)
I’ve taken the opportunity to create a tri-fold guide to explain those six things in slightly more detail. You can download it at the "For Individuals" page on the Kingdom Link website (you'll need to scroll to the bottom of the page).
Some Common Sense Notes
Let me just emphasize the common-sense aspect:
It is common sense to plan for the PLACE you’re going. That means to consider the grade and the kind of ground you’ll walk on. Around my house you can really only walk on gravel or mud, so my low-cut thin-soled runners are not the best. Common sense means not prayer-walking alone at night in sketchy areas of town. It means wearing high-visibility clothing if you are walking along a road that doesn’t have a sidewalk. It’s common sense to consider the weather and to ask yourself if you need a hat, sunscreen or an umbrella. Just remember the helpful German proverb, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just poor choices in clothing.”
It is also common sense to plan for the PEOPLE. I like long walks. If I’m prayer-walking with my wife, I have to remember that she likes shorter walks!
It is common sense to commit yourself and the prayer-walk to the Lord before you even head out. At the very least, examine yourself first, that your prayers might be unhindered. I say that because if there is sin in your life, the first thing you will hear from God is a call to repent, and let me tell you, it is hard to walk while you are weeping in repentance.
Lastly, it is common sense to PLAN for the unplanned. Nowadays, everyone carries a cell phone so they can call for help if needed. Perhaps you need to take some bus money if you get tired. If you are traveling some distance to start your prayer-walk, you might need to think about bringing water or medication or a snack.
We don’t want to make a big deal about it, because prayer-walking at the simplest level is just going out for a walk with God. But if you are going someplace new, remember to tell someone where you are headed and what time you will be back. And by all means, watch where you’re going – don’t step where you should not step! That’s just common sense.
That’s it. The rest is up to you.
You are going on an adventure. Anytime we walk with God, it is an adventure – but a blessed adventure!
I can’t think of a time I purposefully went on a prayer walk and didn’t come back blessed. Our Lord is always gracious, always kind, always eager to speak to us. And He is still about His mission to bring the blessing of Himself to this broken world.
So go and be blessed!
Rev. Marcus Verbrugge and his wife reside in Ontario. Prior to working in full time ministry, Marcus was in the business community where he led a number of business startups. Past service included NFP board work, short-term mission leadership, founding a prayerwalking ministry, KingdomLink (a mission mobilization ministry) and the Transform! Prayer Course (a prayer mobilization tool). Marcus is also the author of, “Beginning – Growing in Prayer through Genesis” and a Kairos head facilitator.
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