Doing Church Incarnationally: Prayer Walk

Several months back I set up a prayer walk for the teens group that I was leading. I wasn’t really sure how it was going to go, but I was a big hit, so I thought it’d be fun to share and hopefully hear back how the experience is for others. The idea came in part from ancient prayer labyrinths used in many faiths and cultures around the world, and from the stations of the cross practiced largely by my own faith. Feel free to put your own spin on things! Below is a copy of the instruction sheet we put on each station with a list of materials included for the station. When we had our prayer walk we did it outside at night, and the entire way was lit by candles and torches which added a really cool feel to the whole thing. The teens went through in groups of 2 or 3.

Station. 1
Materials
– a yoke (believe it or not I had one laying around.)
Instructions:
Matthew 11:28-30
28  Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Yokes are used bond two oxen together. The yoke keeps the two walking and working together side-by-side. In Jesus day the teachings of Jewish Rabbi’s were also know as their yoke. It was that Rabbi’s way of keeping Torah (Jewish law). Jesus is calling us to take his yoke because it is light and brings rest to those who are weary. In our day to day lives we have many things that weigh us down. They can become burdens that yoke us to systems of this world. Jesus is to give up the things of this world and take his yoke upon us because it is light and brings rest to those who are weary.
Pray to be able to throw off whatever yokes you and weighs you down. Pray to be able to take on Jesus yoke and walk with him.

Station 2
Materials
– mirror (the bigger the better or multiple if you have a large group)
– dry erase markers
Instructions:
James 1:22-24
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
We are to be a reflection of Christ and mirror the image we see of Jesus in the Bible. Take some time to pray, and ask God to help you better reflect him, or to show you a piece of your life that does not mirror him.
After spending some time in prayer, if God has revealed something to you that you would like to write or draw out use the markers to write or draw it down on the mirror.

Bonus: save the mirror words and all and use it for a lesson a week or 2 after about Jesus washing away sin.

Station 3
Materials
-sharpies
-smooth river rock (I wrote one of the fruits of the spirit on each rock, but they could be left blank and people could write what they wish)
Instructions:
Ezekiel 36:25-27
will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
Sometime in our lives our hearts can become hardened. We can become defensive and untrusting. In building walls around our hearts we can harden them to what God is doing. In Ezekiel God promises to remove our heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. When ever something bad is removed from our lives it has to be replaced with something good, something that gives us the life to the fullest that Jesus promised.
Pray and take what you need most. The rock symbolizes the removal of our stone hearts and what’s written on it represents what it’s being replaced with.

Station 4
Materials
– lots and lots of yarn (the more colors the better)
– optional: pendants crosses, hearts, doves ect. (Be careful if you provide pendants most people will want one and it can get expensive avoid it all together of you’re on a tight budget)
Instructions:
1 Corinthians 12:12-14
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
We are all very different. Just like a body each of us and many unique gifts and talents to offer, and just like a body all pieces are essential to the function of the body as a whole. There is no one piece that is greater than any other.
Use the different colored strings to represent the different people that come together to make up the body of Christ. Weave them together as a reminder that in our differences we are all united by God, and made stronger through him.
If you’d like You can attach a charm and us it as a necklace or bracelet as a constant reminder of belonging in the body of Christ.

Station 5
Materials
– construction paper cut into strips
– stapler
Instructions:
Chains are something that can bind us to many different things. Chains can hold us captive to systems, substances, ideas, or feelings that may not be good for us. If we are chained to these things then those chains are very harmful, but if we bind ourselves to things that bring life and to each other like the links in a chain, then the idea of a chain can be very positive. In a chain each link is connected to one another. When a strain is placed on the chain each piece bares part of the weight sharing the burden so that no one link is given more than it can handle. In this way we are to bare one anthers burdens in the Body of Christ.
Galatians 6:1&2
(6) 1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Pray for God to show you a spiritual strength and an area of weakness in your life. Use one strip of paper to represent your spiritual strength(s) and another to represent an area of weakness. If you’d like you can write your strengths and weaknesses on the strips of paper, if not than leave them blank. Make a loop and staple each to the chain to represent your place in the Body of Christ, and that we are all connected in following Jesus.

Bonus: save the chain that gets made and hang it all around the sanctuary during a communion service. It can serve as a visual reminder of our deep connection through the body of Christ. (Extra points if the chain starts and ends at the communion table!)

Station 6
Materials
-candles
-lighters
-something f to protect your table if the candles aren’t in containers.
Instructions:
Isaiah 42:5-7(#14 of 25 Bible Verses about Light)
5 This is what God the LORD says-he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: 6 “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, 7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
Luke 11:33-35
33 “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35 See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.
John 8:12 ESV
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying,  I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
Matthew 5:14-16
14  You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

After everyone had gone through the prayer walk the came back together to close the night out. This could serve as a really special time to take communion together.

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace!
That where there is hatred, I may bring love.
That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness.
That where there is discord, I may bring harmony.
That where there is error, I may bring truth.
That where there is doubt, I may bring faith.
That where there is despair, I may bring hope.
That where there are shadows, I may bring light.
That where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort, than to be comforted.
To understand, than to be understood.
To love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.

Amen.

Saint Francis of Assisi Image

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