Upon arriving at Shawnee St.Paul’s in 2017, I found myself desiring a good way of building relationships and getting to know the people of my new faith community. My wife and I had begun walking together in the early mornings and the conversations we were having were wonderful! At that time I would’ve told you that a light bulb went off and I had an extraordinary idea. On this side of things I want to give glory where it is due and tell you that I am confident that it was God who had laid something powerful on my heart. If I was strengthening my relationship with my bride through our walking time together, how much could that same activity bond people together within the church? All the while increasing health and being a visible presence in the community!
I got out my pedometer and found that walking 5 times around the church property was equal to a mile. I was getting pretty excited about assembling some St.’s Steppers when suddenly the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “Great, but what else?”
“What else?” I replied, “We’re going to build relationships with each other and increase our health! What do you mean, ‘What else’?”
God laughed lovingly and said, “What about building further relationship with me? What about increasing the health of your faith?”
“Hmm, I’ll pray about that,” I thought.
“Ah, prayer,” smiled Jesus, filling my heart with joy, “Bingo.”
Last summer St. Paul’s began a prayer walking initiative.
Prior to our first walk together I wanted to have a few prayer objectives. As St. Paul’s has been growing it became clear that there were many things, both general and specific, that we should be praying for and trusting God with. Whether about facilities, leadership, members or guests, there is plenty to pray about for our church.
One of my favorite things about St. Paul’s is the church’s heart for local mission. This led me to recognize we should also be praying for our community. For the civic leaders, educators, the homeless, our neighbors and their families…there are countless aspects of our community in need of putting into God’s care.
And in thinking of families, why not pray for our own? For those private and personal prayers pertaining to our own lives and our own families, we shouldn’t be afraid of lifting our petitions to God.
Being that we would be walking around 301 N. Beard we set a goal of walking 301 miles. This would be the equivalent of walking from our church home to the far western edge of the Oklahoma Panhandle! It certainly seemed like a daunting challenge, but I was delighted to find out that there were many who were up for it.
Over the last six months I was blessed to walk with over 20 different people and 2 dogs! We alternated our laps between praying and visiting as our conversations varied from getting to know each other to sharing dreams of the future for our lives and the life of St. Paul’s. The discussions were fantastic and the praying was too. One of the most fulfilling aspects of our conversations was when we could look back and see how some of our prayers were already being answered and how amazing God is!
One day I became aware of an added bonus to our prayer walks that I hadn’t considered. I had gone into the bank to the east of the church and the teller asked me what we were doing on Tuesday mornings walking around our property over and over. She said that the bank employees had taken a notice to our group and had become curious. It gave me an opportunity to talk with her about the power of prayer and I was pleased to share that we had even prayed for her and her co-workers while walking past the bank each week. It was moving to hear her tell of the things God has been doing in her life and to hear that she was excited to let everyone know what we had been up to!
I’m overjoyed to report that as of the first week of the new year the last mile has been walked and we have met our initial goal! I’m so thankful for those who walked along side me as well as the many who have been turning in miles that they walked and prayed on their own time. I have heard a lot about how their faith and prayer lives have grown as a result. In this I proclaim that God is GOOD!
As seasons change and weather warms up a new goal will be set and we will begin walking again. I hope you will consider joining us either in person walking around St. Paul’s or in spirit walking on your own. I’d even love to see you organize your own small groups of prayer walkers in your neighborhoods. Let me know and I’d love to join you when I’m able!
In the meantime, for you and your family, for our community and for the great work God is doing at St. Paul’s, keep praying!
Tate Monroe, Director of Discipleship and Development