I'm a prayer walker.
The first few times I said that, or shared about my prayer walking experiences, it felt an awful lot like bragging. Like I was standing up straight, squaring my shoulders, puffing out my chest, and lowering my voice to that level of deepest importance and then saying it more like:
IIIIIIiiiiiiii am a PRAYER walker.
It's an unlovely thing to brag and so I was always hesitant to talk about those (usually) early morning walks. But then I realized it was similar to making the statement, "I am a female" or "I have brown eyes". It's just woven into my DNA. And so I'm going to unashamedly talk about it.
Because it's how I connect with God. If you find me not prayer walking for a significant period of time, there's cause for concern that my relationship is slipping. Not because it's a requirement or ritual or the best way to pray but because it's the way I find myself truly sensing the presence of God. It's where I have my mountaintop experiences. It doesn't mean it's where you'll have yours.
For going on 5 years now, I've been walking with God in the quiet of the morning. I take my prayer journal and sometimes my Bible, though my Bible gets heavy and so on many days I rely on the scripture I've intentionally stowed away in my mind. I speak them back to God as I praise, confess, repent, invite the Spirit, and intercede. God's word and prayer must always be beautifully tangled into such a knot they can't be separated. The power of prayer is unlocked within the scriptures. We stand on the surety of what He's already done, the certainty of what He's said He's now doing, and the hope of what He's promised He'll do in the future.
And so I walk and talk and listen. Sometimes I cry or smile and occasionally I even laugh. God is personal.
Our place is buzzing with activity by 5:30am on weekday mornings during the school year and so getting up early enough to have this uninterrupted time is a commitment. There are nights I don't get to bed early enough, and I know I need the sleep, so I don't get that pre-dawn start when the property is still mostly at rest.
And on those days Satan whispers into my ear that it's pharisaical to walk around praying when people can see and they know what I'm doing. He tells me it would be like parading for the purpose of having others applaud. Sometimes I nearly believe him because scripture does say, "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." (Matthew 6:6)
But, in context, that verse is speaking to the temptation to do things (including prayer) for the accolades you'll receive from others. However, because I'm simply wanting to meet with God in the most intimate way I've found, I slip into my sandals and go anyway.
Most of the time getting a late start means many interruptions and sometimes small people shadow me as I circle the pond. One morning recently I had three with me and I almost felt irritated that my quiet communion was being broken. But then I heard Him speak so clearly that He doesn't just want me when the circumstances are perfect or serene. He wants me to include Him even when they're not. So I took Him along as I walked giving those three children the attention they craved while still maintaining that prayer connection. In some ways, it took the experience deeper because I realized I didn't have to choose ... I could do both, it just takes intention.
The other morning, however, I was especially struggling because my boys were about to return to America. I really wanted that quiet but it was another day where I had to fight for it because the hour just wasn't early enough. I decided to leave the gate and walk down the road toward the pig farm.
I'd taken only a few steps off our property when I realized I picked up a pebble in my shoe from the gravel on our path. It was annoying, and immediately distracting, yet I didn't want to stop to remove it so I kept walking.
I made it a fair distance down the road before recognizing that, while I was certainly attempting to commune with God, the pebble was getting in the way. So I kicked my foot around a little as I walked, trying to get it to come out on its own. It shifted, but not enough. I kept walking.
Arriving at the pig farm, which was my turning back point, I decided to stop and take the pesky thing out and be done with it. It took only a little effort to remove the shoe, knock the pebble out, and put the shoe back on. I was on my way and, as soon as I starting walking again, I heard God speaking to my thoughts.
"That pebble is so much like the things in your life that I try to point out to you but you don't often want to stop long enough to do anything about them. You'd rather walk with them distracting you than putting in the effort to remove them. I'm here to help but you seem determined to push through your own way."
Sometimes in my experience with God I feel like everything around me fades away and I'm standing there alone with Him. When that happens there's always an accompanying sense of having been exposed and yet finding Him eager to forgive. That's what happened on this particular morning. He was exposing me to myself, while simultaneously assuring me He wasn't asking that I perfect myself for Him. He simply wants me to come surrendered so He can do a perfect work in me.
I walked the rest of the way home with no distractions and no guilt. He'd brought me to the point of repentance and promised that "...He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ..." (Philippians 1:6)
If you're finding it difficult to connect with God, seek out new ways to break through those barriers That's the asking, seeking, knocking process and, when we persevere, He can always be found. Prayer walking may not be your answer but your answer is out there.
You just have to go after it until it's found.