What a Prayer Walk is (and Why it's Powerful)
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The first time I learned about the idea of a prayer walk, I was a newlywed in college. Late one Friday night in the fall, after having just gone to sleep, my husband and I heard a lot of voices in the hallway landing outside our apartment door, then a knock. Derek got up and answered, and I overheard the following question, “Hey, we’re going on a prayer walk around the campus tonight? You want to come?”
We were new to town, but it didn’t take long before we were welcomed into a community of college students who lived nearby. We all attended the same church. I soon learned that this group was unlike any I’d known before. It was a good kind of different. They didn’t just go to church on Sundays out of duty. They lived their faith out in practical ways, every day, and they seemed genuinely excited about what it meant to be a Christian.
Then, I couldn’t say the same about my faith- but I liked these people. What they had, intrigued me. We couldn’t think of a good reason to say, no, so my husband and I grabbed our coats and went with them. As I walked down the hill towards the center of campus, with about twenty other students, I nervously wondered what this prayer walk was. I didn’t want to be a part of something weird that called attention to us. I thought I’d leave and walk back home if I was uncomfortable.
We stopped first at the old administration building first. It was after dark, but we were near Greek Row, and the campus was still buzzing with activity. The same guy who knocked on our door seemed to be leading this expedition. He directed our group to form a small circle, and he told us he’d start the prayer, but we could go around, and anyone who wanted to could pray. After about five students had prayed: for the president of our school, for the decisions that were being made, and for the God’s favor and blessing on the leaders, there was a pause- then the prayer was wrapped up, and we moved on. We walked to several more buildings that night.
We prayed for the musicians at the music building, we prayed for new students and their adjustment to college life as we paused outside the freshman dormitories, and we prayed for the athletes as we walked by the gym. It wasn’t weird. Anyone passing by might have seen us praying, but they also might have just thought we were a group of people talking together.
I could feel a deep peace with this group. The love that these students had for these other people, people they didn’t necessarily even know, was heartfelt. I had no doubts that God heard those prayers. After walking around for about an hour, thoroughly cold, we walked back up the hill towards the apartments where we lived.
We were invited into the home of another newlywed couple that was a part of our group. Being poor college students, they didn’t even have furniture- so there was plenty of room for our large group to gather in their apartment. They served us tea and hot cocoa, and we just hung out together after that. It was fun.
I was happy we said yes to the prayer walk. It’s not only a fond memory, but I believe that God heard those prayers and they made a difference. I may not ever know what difference they made until I get to heaven, but I trust the truth of God’s word that says,
“But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.” –Psalm 66:19
After that fall evening, prayer walks became a regular occurrence with these friends. My faith grew, and I even began praying out loud myself. Praying over my school did something to my heart. It helped me see my fellow students in a new way. I started to love them more- the way God loves them. I’m sure there are still college students walking around my old college campus, today, and on thousands of other college campuses’, praying over their schools, trusting God and asking for his blessing and guidance over the people in these buildings.
Now that my daughter is a college student, I like to think about the prayers that have gone before her as she goes about her life on campus. Prayer walks aren’t just for colleges, of course. These walks can happen anywhere. A particular variation that I love, from my friend Lori, isn’t a walk at all. She mentioned that when she folds her family’s laundry, she uses it as a time to pray over them.
You can pray silently or out loud. You can go on walks by yourself or with some friends. A benefit of praying out loud, with friends, is that, when we see specific prayers answered, someone will usually remember and point it out. That’s always exciting, and it serves to build up our faith.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” –Matthew 18:20
A prayer walk is merely a tool, something to trigger your thoughts about how and whom you can pray over people. It’s a powerful tool. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to try it. Have you ever tried a prayer walk? If so, you have any helpful ideas you'd like to add?