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PRAY: Praying Through Distractions

“Do you mind the music?” my neighbor asked as I entered the small gym in our neighborhood clubhouse. A steamy June morning combined with hay fever symptoms had prompted an indoor prayerwalk. “Not at all,” I responded. After all, he’d started his workout first, and my walk would take forty minutes. Surely I’d outlast him and his boombox. And surely his songs wouldn’t all consist of Latin pop/rock. Wrong—on both counts. Not only did I not outlast him, but he had an entire CD of the driving Latin beat. Because I seek to concentrate on intercession, I don’t always take my iPod along when I prayerwalk. Now, I faced a new test. How could I pray effectively amidst the throbbing bass and screaming vocals? Although Zumba (an aerobic-style workout set to Latin music) has intrigued me for several months, today’s musical offering didn’t promise much in the way of a prayerwalking experience. Wrong again. I began my treadmill time by confessing my distraction and frustration. I asked God to help me worship regardless. Suddenly, I realized: The following day, my two youngest daughters were leaving on the first leg of their summer mission trips to South and Central America. And in about two weeks, I was traveling to Guatemala and a mission trip with SUSIE Magazine. “Listen, and pray for the people who listen to this kind of music every day,” God whispered. That day, I had no trouble keeping up with the fast-paced treadmill. (Maybe there’s something to this Zumba idea after all). And I had no trouble concentrating on my prayers, either. While I walked, I could see the faces of the people in whose countries my daughters and I will serve. As I heard their music, I prayed for their lives, their hearts, and their responsiveness to the Gospel. I prayed for the teams and leadership who would minister to them. And the more I prayed, the more easily my prayers flowed. God’s grace allowed me to deal with my distractions by turning them into prayers. What about you? What distractions threaten your prayer time? How can God use them for good? Let us pray—and talk about it,...

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PRAY: Prayerwalking: The Secret of My Success

My tongue-in-cheek title makes me smile. Don’t misunderstand. I don’t mean success in material terms. And I’m the least likely person to point to any spiritual successes. The title came to me this morning while I was (you’ll never guess) prayerwalking. Prayerwalking is in some ways a secret because, except for any neighbors who frequent this blog, people don’t realize I’m doing it. To anyone else, I’m one more homemaker out for her morning constitutional. And actually, prayerwalking started that way for me. I knew I should walk or do some form of exercise every day. When my children were small, I found ways to accomplish that in the house (they still groan about the Stormie O’Martian exercise video). But about ten years ago, God allowed me to start a near-daily habit of prayerwalking. (I say “near” because I rarely prayerwalk on Sunday, and I sometimes miss other days, too). Prayerwalking was also a secret because, for a time, God kept its value secret from me. I thought I was out there for the exercise. He knew my spirit needed work and refreshment as much as my body did. Before too many weeks of regular walking, I found my mind wandering. Eventually, it wandered to the people and situations for whom I needed to pray. I knew God had called me to be a knee in the body of Christ. I already thrived on multi-tasking. Why not use my exercise time as a time for intercession, too? I didn’t—and don’t—take my prayer list along with me. I simply walk and allow God’s Holy Spirit to bring people and situations to my mind and heart. I almost always start with prayer for family and close friends or coworkers. But often—as happened today—God lays someone on my heart about whom I’ve not thought for a while. It has become my joy to lift each one before Him. Sometimes He allows me to see a part of the reason I was praying, sometimes not. I enjoy praying for the people I pass in my neighborhood, too. Those construction workers on the corner don’t realize I’m praying for their safety, their marriages, and their job security. The students headed for the bus stop don’t know I’m lifting them up as they face the challenges of their day. The success? I have a healthier body and (arguably) mind. I know the heart of God more and more. God has used this time to teach me new things about Himself and about my living, growing relationship with Him. I get to join Him in His work. And yes, He often gives me a new insight for my writing as I prayerwalk. In fact, as I...

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