Several years ago I participated in a week-long retreat for “Personal Growth in Christ,” sponsored by Twin Rocks Friends Camp. Most of the week was actually spent in silence, but every morning the directors would present a spiritual discipline for us to try out during the day. It was there I learned about prayer walks, a practice common in rural monasteries. It seems each monk chooses a route through the surrounding countryside. At set locations, the monk stops and prays in specific ways, repeating the process each day. These are prayers for personal growth.
We were encouraged to try it on the beach, imagining walking the path with Jesus and directing our prayers to him in conversation. We were encouraged to memorize the path and the prayer sequence, so that when we went home after the retreat, we could continue the practice in our imaginations. Since my imagination is alive and well, and since I love the ocean, I tried it, and it’s become a prayer exercise I frequently come back to. Photos of my “prayer stations” help. Here’s the exercise as I developed it:
Preparation: As I walk the path to the beach, I read a portion of Scripture and prepare my heart to meet Jesus. I joyfully anticipate our meeting.
Station 1: A bench with a view of the ocean. As I approach the bench, I see Jesus coming to meet me. We are both smiling. We greet, hug and sit down together. We don’t talk much at this point. We both sense a quiet joy in being together. If needed, I confess whatever I need to, receive his pardon, and then just rest in his love.
Station 2: We get up, and walk slowly down the beach to a log, where we again sit together. He asks me what gift I would like him to give me. I repeat my theme verse (2 Peter 3:18) and tell him I want to grow in grace and in my relationship with him. I ask him that I might more and more live out my core values of gratitude, wisdom, compassion, poetry and humor. We linger for a while, and get up and approach the surf.
Station 3: At the edge of the water, I pray for relationships. I present to Jesus my key relationships and ask his help in being the person I need to be for the people he has brought into my life. I present myself as wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, friend, elder, and in any other relationships that God is currently placing in my path.
Station 4: Then we continue walking down the beach, hand in hand, until we reach the river, coming down from the mountains. We sit on another log. As the river runs into the sea, I focus on the various ministries God where has asked me to partner with him. I consider myself as a writer, teacher, intercessor, elder, and however else God may want to use me. I ask help in being a good team member, able to value and encourage the contributions of others. I ask to grow in my ability to hear God’s voice and work as a co-laborer in God’s mission. I take my time.
Station 5: We arise, walk back to the surf and follow the water home. We are silent. My heart is full of praise. I glory in the beauty of the sea and the sky. I glory in the presence of my Lord and friend, amazed that he is both. I carry the beauty back with me into the world. Amen. Amen.