In “The Practice of the Presence of God” Brother Lawrence wrote –
“There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual walk with God. Those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it; yet I do not advise you to do it from that motive.”
How many times have you heard the phrase “a walk with God?” Brother Lawrence qualifies it a bit by calling it a “continual walk” but one way or another I think the phrase is familiar to us and does not strike us as odd.
You might use the phrase, as I do, to figuratively describe our “communion” with God. It is certainly a wonderful image.
But might we be right to take it more literally at times?
A few weeks ago I came across the following quote from Frank Laubach (taken from his book, Letters by a Modern Mystic),
“I have just returned from a walk alone, a walk so wonderful that I feel like reducing it to a universal rule, that all people ought to take a walk every evening all alone,…and that during this entire walk they ought to talk with God,…and let God do most of the talking.”
Have you had one of those kinds of experiences? You find something so wonderful and so enriching you want not just to recommend it to everyone else, but to “require” it of everyone else. After all, you know how good it will be for them.
I guess that was not a “literal” walk with God, but then again it sounds like it was close to that for Laubach.
Let me share one more item that came to me recently from a mailing by Church of the Savior (Washington DC),
“I, too, pray while I walk. This started after the death of our son. Consumed by grief, guilt and anger, I could not pray. So I took walks. Though I was angry with God, still I prayed, “God, God, God,” as I walked… Soon this became my regular method of prayer. We lived by the Potomac then, so as I wept and walked, the water of my tears and the water of the river felt unifying. All around the river was death and decay, as well as life and rebirth: a new universe. As I prayed for myself and my own pain, I could not ignore those brothers and sisters around the world who suffered with me, whose moans and groans rose like incense on an altar. Now, many years later, I am healed of my grief, but I still do my prayers while walking….. In the Gospels, Jesus gives us little direction in methods of prayer, but he walked a lot so I like to think he prayed while walking. When I am walking, I practice centering prayer for half the distance and then begin intercession and petition. It is important to pray for family, mission group, my church and special persons God has given me. Thanksgiving is woven through it all.”
For this individual, healing came about through walking and prayer. Notice she writes, “… I could not pray. So I took walks.” That is the part I would like you to consider today. When prayer does not seem to come; when you do not find the words or even perhaps the spirit of prayer, where do you turn? What do you do? For this person walking became an avenue by which she was able to find her prayer voice once again. For others it has been the liturgy of Morning Prayer, or liturgical worship or being alone in nature, or the Psalms.
Have you had an experience like that? Where did you turn? Or, if you have not experienced such dryness, where do you think you might turn if that was part of your life?