Prayer Walking

Apr 23, 2003 08:00 PM EDT

Luke 10:25-37 (NRSV)

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "whatmust I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is writtenin the law? What do you read there?" He answered, "You shall love theLord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and withall your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor asyourself." And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; dothis, and you will live." But wanting to justify himself, he askedJesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "A man was going downfrom Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, whostripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now bychance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, hepassed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to theplace and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan whiletraveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine onthem. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, andtook care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them tothe innkeeper, and said, 'Take care of him; and when I come back, Iwill repay you whatever more you spend.' Which of these three, do youthink, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of therobbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him,"Go and do likewise."

Who is my neighbor?

- Luke 10:29 (NRSV)

SOMETHING unusual is happening in my neighborhood: Complete strangersare praying for my family. I didn't know we were being prayed foruntil I read about it in a newspaper article. We aren't the victimsof tragedy or illness; we just happen to live in a neighborhood wherethere are "prayerwalkers."

According to the newspaper article I read, prayerwalkers are a groupof people from a local church who have taken walking for exercise to aholy level. As they walk past each house, they pray for the occupantswithin. Simple observation helps them to personalize the prayers forthat particular household. A swing set tells them children are partof that family; a handicap sticker in a car window tells them to prayfor occupants with special challenges. As I read this article, Ithought about how Jesus defined being a neighbor in the Parable of theGood Samaritan.

I don't do much walking through my neighborhood, but I do a lot ofdriving. So instead of prayerwalking, I have been testing"prayerdriving." I'm now more aware of who my neighbors are and whatthey're doing, and I feel a special connectedness with them and withGod as I pay attention to their lives and pray for them.

Prayer: Dear God, hear our prayers for those whose names we know andfor those whose names we do not know. Amen.


How can I express God's love in my neighborhood?


My neighbors

By Mark Strauss, Massachusetts