Our home sits on the edge of the largest park in town. As I take my daily walk on the winding asphalt paths under towering cottonwoods, the people that populate the property captivate my attention. I watch young children playing on the playground, teens disc golfing, elderly walkers meandering, avid tennis players competing, and skateboarders of all ages practicing new jumps and moves. I wonder about their lives. I look to see if they are smiling or crying, laughing or arguing. When I perceive joy, I often thank God for the moment these people are experiencing. When there is obvious pain, I immediately intercede for that which I can observe and the agony I know nothing about. Occasionally, I see someone I know and we take a few minutes to talk. Overall, my walks exercise my body, my emotions, and my spirit. I grow healthier and stronger in my prayer life—able to carry more concerns and lift heavier intercession to the Father.
In the past, I have spent time prayer walking with others around schools, businesses, and government buildings. We always had a clear prayer focus, and I am confident our prayers moved the heavens. However, I feel more closely connected with those who live and recreate near my home. Although I am praying, I feel more like I am simply caring.
This month, organize several opportunities to "care walk" near the homes of your small group members. In order to meet the varying schedule needs, sort the people into smaller groups that will meet on different days at different times. Before the first care walk, discuss the purpose and plan of action. Encourage each care-walking group to do the following:
- Notice needs -
Most people exhibit signs of their current emotional health even when they are in a public place. Ask your group members to watch body language for negative and positive clues to prayerfully discern possible needs. For example, a person sitting alone on a park bench may be peaceful and enjoying the solitude, or agonizing over a life-changing decision, or struggling to not drown in depression. Share your thoughts with those with whom you are walking.
- Pray purposefully -
Spend a few minutes prayerfully listening for God's leading in your prayers. Begin speaking out loud words of thanksgiving, conversationally voicing gratitude to God for His creation. Thank Him for the people you see and for His plan and purpose for their lives. Intercede for perceived needs, acknowledging that there is a spiritual battle that is fought in the heavens.
- Contact with care -
When appropriate, talk with the people you meet on your walk. Listen to the Holy Spirit and, when led, offer to pray for someone on the spot.
After your care walk, spend a few minutes writing down your thoughts about the people and situations you encountered. Commit to praying for the perceived needs throughout the week.
Small group leaders, encourage your group members to:
- Randomly wave and smile at ten people in the next week.
- Offer to read to a small child or elderly person.
- Give a massage gift certificate to a teacher to celebrate the beginning of summer.