A Prayer Walk That Changed My Perspective

A Prayer Walk That Changed My Perspective

Posted on May 24, 2018

Last weekend, I did something that I’d never done before. As a part of the “Rooted” program at Grace Church, one of the things we were asked to do was to participate in a ‘prayer walk’. This exercise was designed with the intention, I think, to remove us from the outside world, its distractions, and focus on nature and our surroundings, and ultimately, to listen for the voice of God.

Our group sat together for about 20 minutes discussing our thoughts on what we expected, and then made our plans to return to our location in approximately an hour. Many of the guys brought a bible, their workbook, a chair, and a notepad. I opted against those things, simply because I didn’t want the distraction of having to carry around a bunch of stuff. I had one thing with me: my journal.

I’d been having a few disagreements lately with my son, so before I took off for my hour, I asked God to reveal to me what he felt was most important for me to hear on that morning. As I searched for a path down into the park, I came across a family that was taking photos with a professional photographer. I stood across the creek from them and noticed how loving the father was to his little one. He held him in his arms, smothered him with kisses, and most importantly, they were both happy and smiling.

I’ve experienced a lot of stress when thinking about my own son’s future. He’s 17 now, so picking him up in my arms and smothering him with kisses seems a daunting task. However, as I stood there observing, I heard a voice inside my head tell me, “Stop trying to control your son’s life. He’s my child, and I’ve got this.” Then I remembered a story told by two different guys in my group the week prior. Both gentlemen had sons that were what we’d call ‘rambunctious’ sorts, and both of those boys, after years of raising cane, turned out to be pastors as adults. My son has expressed an interest in the same, so the voice inside my head was speaking to me clearly.

I walked a little farther down the path, and observed a different father and son, both with cameras, and both taking pictures together. This made me remember the days when I did everything with my son. Now, with two other children to worry about, I realized that though we spend a lot of time together, that we rarely spend quality time together. I vowed on the spot to make sure that I didn’t have any regrets as my children got older, about not having spent time doing things that we loved, and more importantly, that they loved.

As I continued my walk, I noticed that the only distractions I was feeling, was the birds in the trees singing. I wasn’t worried about social media, how I was going to pay the mortgage, or put food on the table. I just observed the beautiful things of this Earth that God put there for me to enjoy. I was surrounded by trees. Life-giving trees. I was surrounded by animals. Beautiful creatures. And everywhere I turned, I there was water in some capacity, be it a creek, a puddle, or the bottle in my hand. As I continued to walk on the path, I realized that I was on a firm foundation and solid ground. This reminded me that in order to live, I needed to also have a firm foundation and solid ground to stand on, and those things are afforded to me in the sacrifices made by Jesus Christ.

About 30 minutes into my walk, there was a tree that had fallen across the path. This tree was once alive and now was no longer. This reminded me that no matter how beautiful something is, be it a relationship, a loved one, or a tree, that eventually, the things of this Earth will come to an end.

About 50 feet past this tree, I noticed that not only was the path that I was on continuing, but there was another path that started where I was, led up about 6 feet in the air, went on for about 100 feet, and then came back together with the path that I had originally been on. Both paths led to the same place, so why were there two different ones going in the same direction? This reminded me that there are times when we think we know what is best for us and our family, but God has a different better plan, and though he tries to keep us going in the right direction, sometimes we stray. But, in his infinite wisdom, he brings us back to where we need to be, on the right path. Wherever you are going, God will provide a path.

The more I wandered, the more I began to notice that this park was like a metaphor for the broken world we currently live in. There were some places where resources were abundant. Lots of trees, plants, and plenty of water. However, there were also places where the resources were not so plentiful. There was a little vegetation and barely enough water for those things to survive. But the one thing I noticed in all that I observed was regardless of what was trying to survive in each particular area, food and water were a necessity for life, and there were times when neither was readily available. There are places in the world where humans don't have enough. 
In the last few minutes of this walk, I made three additional observations:

  • There was an open field, and it was surrounded by a sea of green trees. All except for this one tree that was purple. This tree stuck out like a sore thumb and made me remember that I am uniquely made to stand out, and not be like everyone else around me.

  • I heard birds chirping. Sometimes, one bird would whistle, and then seconds later, another bird would whistle back. They would repeat the same patterns over and over, for what felt like minutes. I pictured these birds being different from each other, like a cardinal talking to a blue jay. This made me realize that even though we all have something to say, there will always be others that have something equally as important to say. And just because two things are different, they can still find a way to try and communicate without harming the other.

  • Finally, I noticed a mom and her young child playing near the creek as I headed back to meet my group. She was on one said, and the young boy was on the other. I watched them for a moment or two. This mother was encouraging her child to explore. She inspired him to take in his surroundings, and to be inquisitive. I tried to picture the majority of parents that I know that have little ones, actually inspiring and encouraging their kids to take in their surroundings. This mom wasn’t concerned with test scores, reading or math ability, or the ‘dangers’ of the world. She just let her kid be a kid. To top it off, this kid got into the creek, shoes and all, and started to play. His mother was there the whole time and didn’t once try and stop him from having fun. This made me think of the number of times I’ve ‘helicoptered’ over my own kids, and stopped them from having fun. How many times was my child on the brink of pure joy, only to have a stick in the mud parent come along and stop them in their tracks?

We live in a world where information is instantaneous. Where we know where our loved ones are at any moment. Sometimes it’s difficult to shut all of that off, and just, be. Though I was ‘forced’ to participate in this exercise as a part of this experience, I don’t regret it. In fact, I’m encouraged to do it again. I’ve even talked to my family about all of us taking part in the next prayer walk. When I put down the phone, and just walked, I was surprised on what I’d been missing out on.

An Important Side Note

Though I was a Christian as a young boy, I’ve spent decades away from the faith, only returning about 3 years ago. Though I spent a lot of time denouncing God’s existence over the years, I could see His hands and heart at work in everything I did, even if I didn’t know it yet myself. When the opportunity to participate in the “Rooted” pilot came up, I’ll admit I was very skeptical. I’d been a part of Men of Grace for almost two years, and it had become a very important part of who I was and helped shaped me into what I was becoming. After being in “Rooted” for about 5-6 weeks, I can say that it has forced me, and the others in my group, to confront many topics, most of which we would all find tough to talk about in front of others. A lot of times, we’re afraid to share because we think we’re the only ones that have ever been through what we’ve been through. I’m here to tell you that is just not true. We’ve all got ‘things’, and we all need each other. I’ve connected on a deeper level with each of the other seven guys in my group over the last several weeks, and I’d encourage you to get involved in the Fall launch of “Rooted”. Knowing that I’m a new Christian, I still thought I had it all figured out, and didn’t need anyone else. As the weeks go by, I realize, we were never intended to do life alone. We need our brothers and sisters in Christ to be our solid ground, while we continue to seek His firm foundation. If you have questions, contact Harrison and he would love to talk with you and get you connected!