A prayer walk will help to ease your stress
In the summer of 1980 I participated in an internship in Miami, Florida. Just committing to travel to Miami and spend three months there took this West Texas novice out of his comfort zone. I suddenly found myself in the heart of Little Havana. It was my first experience feeling like a minority.
I felt that way, too, when it came to prayer and sharing my faith. Prayer was a struggle for me at 20 years old and still can be. And I had been in few opportunities to actually share my faith seeing as how I spent most of my time with people who were already believers. The internship threw us all into both areas where none of us had much training. Our mornings started with an hour of prayer. Our afternoons would be spent serving people and looking for opportunities to share our faith.
It took about half the summer before it dawned on some of us that the prayer time in the morning and the witnessing in the afternoon were not disconnected. They went together. When we started connecting the two we began to see more opportunities right in front of us and as a result, more fruit.
The Apostle Paul thinks both are critical. He tells the Colossian church: “Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.” Literally, the Greek reads: “Prayer — devote yourselves to it.” By placing the word “prayer” at the start of his directive, he emphasizes it. Prayer is an integral part of the life that follows Jesus. So Paul gives a short lesson on prayer and mentions three characteristics of a praying Christian.
First, one is to be devoted. The word can mean to be persistent, but it also carries with it the idea of patience. Devotion does not mean a person stops everything else they are doing and gives every minute of the day to prayer. But it is to be regular and central in our lives.
Another characteristic of prayer is that we are to be “watchful” or “alert.” We need to be asking God to search our hearts and help us to be wise in our lives. But there may be more Paul is referring to. He may be connecting devotion and alertness in prayer to our walk as we will see.
But before we get there, a third characteristic of prayer is thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a theme in Colossians. This is the fifth time Paul has mentioned it. Thanksgiving in our lives grows from a life that has learned to trust God.
“We learn that in life we are dependent on God and interdependent on the people of God. Paul asks the church to pray that God “may open a door to us for the word …” Paul may be in chains, but his prayers are unchained. It has been said, “When we work, we work. But when we pray, God works.”
And often God works through us. We pray and then he moves us to walk. But eventually we pray and then walk. We go on a prayer walk. After Paul tells the Colossians to devote themselves to prayer, he says, “Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time.” Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.” The Greek word for “act” is the word “peripateo.” Paul has used the word in 1:10 and 3:7. It has to do with the way you go about your life.
They are to walk in “wisdom.” This is the wisdom of Christ and not of the world. When he says to walk in wisdom, Paul is tying together all that he has been teaching them since chapter one.
“Walking in wisdom” is explained by Paul as “make[ing] the most of our opportunities.” We watch for opportunities to speak and opportunities to do good. In other words, you don’t have to go out and try to manufacture a time to witness. Instead, pray for open doors and then be alert.
When you do speak wisdom includes using gracious speech. People with gracious speech use words that are “attractive, winsome and wholesome.” “Gracious speech” is to be “seasoned with salt.” Salt brings out the flavor in foods. We need to learn the art of seasoning our speech so that it leaves a good taste with the other person.
Gracious speech takes prayer. This is what we learned to do in Miami. Pray in the morning. Walk in the afternoon. What might happen if we learned this two-step rhythm for our lives? Prayer, then walk. Prayer Walk. We might be less stressed about both.