The last week of each month focuses on a spiritual practice. This week is the spiritual practice of neighborhood walking.
One spiritual practice I was able to be a part of regularly while working down in Chattanooga, Tennessee was neighborhood prayer walks. It's a spiritual practice using prayer or mindfulness to focus your thoughts on the community you are in.
Intentionally putting yourself in the neighborhood where you live, where your church is located, or just anywhere you find yourself, can be powerful if we allow it to be. Sometimes we are so busy and occupied with everything going on in our world, that we miss the opportunity to be present where we are at.
The beautiful thing about neighborhood walks is seeing the area in a new light. Many times it transforms our thoughts and perspectives and ultimately who we are as individuals.
Below is a video titled "Open Your Eyes" created by Leading Congregations in Mission showing how we can see with new eyes when we are intentional in what we do. The man is running in his neighborhood instead of walking but uses the same concept as this spiritual practice. This man in particular uses the mission prayer to refocus his thoughts. Enjoy!
God where will your spirit lead today?
Help me be fully awake and ready to respond.
Grant me courage to risk something new and become
a blessing of your love and peace.
Why Take Up Neighborhood Walking?
Prayer walks can provide a lot of benefits as a spiritual practice. I have listed and explained some below.
1. Awareness of Community - Our awareness about what is going on in the community or neighborhood usually immediately increases from this practice. We notice the roads, the houses, and the noises around us. Questions roll through our heads about why something is the way it is. These questions ultimately bring potential ministry opportunities where we can get involved and make a difference in others lives.
2. Uplifts the Neighborhood - This practice focuses our thoughts on uplifting this space in a new way. It is a shared space among many people where so much happens for both good and bad. Despite the bad you can choose to make it a sacred space. Your hope for this area brings forth a spirit to work and be present in and among the community.
3. Meet People/ Cultivate Relationships - Walking neighborhoods creates countless opportunities to visit with people some you may know and others you may not. Relationships can be deepened when you take the time to just visit and meet people where they are at. Authentic relationships create community. People want to know others care about them. This practice can sometimes be a way to cultivate relationships with those you meet.
4. No Agenda - There is no specific agenda when using this spiritual practice other than praying or being mindful of the community in which you are in. It's not about going a set distance or meeting a certain number of people. It's merely welcoming what may come and opening yourself to the mystery of what might be.
5. Help & Pray For Others - Sometimes along neighborhood walks you may find opportunities to help others or pray with individuals you feel led to pray with. The help might be something specific you notice an individual doing such as digging, carrying, etc. You may also pray for the individual or just ask them to pray with you as you pray over the neighborhood. It can be odd to ask strangers to pray with you however what I find is that most people want the best for the place in which they live and are more than happy to participate.
Get Into Your Neighborhood
I hope this has at least intrigued you enough to give it a try. Here is a Guide to Prayer Walking provided by the United Methodist Church of Wakarusa just in case you want more specifics of how to get this started. It provides some great insight into community observation and some specific ways to chart what you see.
Here is also a "Thirty Days of Praying Through The Neighborhood" resource produced by Nav Neighbors. It gives specific things to look at and pray for when participating in this spiritual practice.
It is important to note that you should always be alert and look out for your safety when walking in an unknown area. Even if you are prayerful in what you are doing, you never know what you may encounter. Take someone with you if possible, let people know where you will be, and follow your gut.
Best of luck to you as you get into your neighborhood!
Next week will be a full year since we started this blog! It has been an incredible journey as we have heard so much positive encouragement. Thank you all for journeying with us!
This week walk through your neighborhood and notice what you see.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.