4 Ways to Pray on Your Feet This Summer
June 19, 2019
There are myriad ways to connect with God and your inner life and to offer peace and love to others. There’s also a lot of different language for doing that, some of which might land for us, and some of which won’t. Pray, Meditate, sending love and light, sending good thoughts, sending positive energy — these are all words people use for this practice of connection, hope, and longing.
And if you decide you want to take part in that practice, it can be hard to find an approach that is helpful and generative for you — centering prayer, journaling prayer, mindfulness meditation, group prayer, listening prayer, the examen (some guides to these can be found here). Again, not all of these land for all of us. If you’ve had trouble connecting with these spiritual practices, here are 4 ways for you to mix things up by getting moving.
1. Pray in a Labyrinth
Labyrinth prayer is an ancient Christian practice. A labyrinth is a walking path leading to and from a central point. It’s not a maze – there are no dead ends or traps. The experience of walking a labyrinth can be like a mini pilgrimage — one takes by all appearances a meandering walk, but the path is purposeful, and the destination specific.
- One way to use a labyrinth is to ask God a question upon entering the labyrinth, and as you walk, pay close attention to what God might be saying to you, and feel the presence of God with you on your walk. Rest in the center, and journey back out knowing God’s love for you.
- Another way to pray with a labyrinth would be to practice Breath Prayer as you walk. Choose a word, a phrase, or a short prayer to repeat internally as you inhale and exhale. You could slowly inhale the word “peace” and the exhale “peace” for the entire walk. Or you could inhale the words “Lord Jesus, Son of the Living God” and exhale the words “have mercy on me”.
You can use this tool to find a labyrinth near you — many churches, abbeys, and gardens have them, and many have hours for the public.
2. Prayer Walk
Prayer walking is a little bit like praying in a labyrinth, in that you are praying while walking. Prayer walking generally refers to the practice of intercessory prayer over a particular area. While labyrinth prayer is very inwardly focused, prayer walking is outwardly focused.
- Take a walk around your neighborhood, and pray for the flourishing of all who live and pass through there. Pray that each person who walks these sidewalks, drives on these streets, and lives in these homes would experience God’s smile on them, God’s abiding presence, and the joy of connection with others.
- Choose an encouraging verse from the Bible that jumps out to you, and that you hope would touch the lives of others. Go to a public park or walking path, and meditate on that verse with the intention of offering it to those who use that park or walking path.
3. Go Visit Someone
Get up and use your feet to spend in person, physical time with someone else, especially if you suspect they might suffer from loneliness. Loneliness is deadly and self-confirming (as we become more lonely, we develop more anxiety around human interaction, which increases our loneliness).
Don’t stay inside and pray for someone, text someone and invite them to coffee or lunch. Call someone and see if they are home, and tell them you’re coming by. Bring cards, your Netflix account, a six pack, or pastries. Leave your phone in your pocket and give that person your attention, your presence, your words, your physical contact.
4. Make Eye Contact (Or more!) With Your Neighbors
We’ve spent some time talking about neighboring here. It can be easy to isolate from neighbors in this day and age. This guide on neighboring has some practical ideas on how to be a neighbor and foster relationships with your neighbors.
Take a walk around your neighborhood like in item number 2 above; only this time, keep your attention out. If you see a neighbor, make eye contact or (gasp!) say hello. Tell them to have a nice evening. Say “I hope you’re well”. Stop and have a full conversation if you feel comfortable, or just leave it as a polite wave and a nod
Keep doing that. Next time, get one of their names.