Prayer Walk: What It Feels Like to Encounter the Holy Spirit

I’ve never really been a prayer walk type of person.

I’m not spiritual enough.

I mean, my faith matters to me. A ton. But I’ve never been one of those super-Christian who dedicates hours to walking around and praying. Like, who has the time … or the patience or the self-discipline … to actually do that? Maybe the “devout,” whoever they are, but definitely not average people.

Two years ago, everything I thought about prayer walks changed. Back then, I worked part time at an school for teens at risk of dropping out of high school. This school is located in a low-income community, and it’s staffed by some of the most amazing, caring, committed prayer warriors I’ve ever met.

Prayer walk

Two years ago, for the first time, I joined in this school’s their yearly prayer walk. We went around the school, stopping in every single room, and spent well over 3 hours in prayer.

In each classroom, a teacher shared his or her hopes, goals, and concerns for the year — and then we brought them all to God in prayer.

More than any prayer I’d been a part of before, the stakes were high. Students faced everything: peer pressure, homelessness, violence, broken family relationships, learning challenges, fear of safety, and countless other worries and fears.

Holy Spirit

In those classrooms, listening to the teachers and staff pray aloud, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Finding those moments — encountering those “thin spaces” — is so beautiful and so rare. For a short period of time, the walls between heaven and earth wear away, and the presence of God we so often hope and beg and plead to experience … to really, palpably feel … suddenly bursts in and wraps us up in a brilliant, peaceful, warm hug of deep care and deep, powerful joy.

In my Christian journey, I wish I knew how to uncover more of those moments: when you FEEL the ripples of God’s love and power around you. They can feel so infrequent and rare that it’s easy to doubt if they even exist at all. It’s part of the reason I’ve started pursuing spiritual disciplines … genuinely … for the first time in my life.

When I’ve felt God’s presence — it hasn’t been an audible experience, like face-to-face conversation. It’s more like the warmth of sunlight on your face, or the ripples of a giant wave splashing against your skin. But it’s a deep, palpable, unmistakable experience feeling.

Once you realize that God’s presence isn’t just a fable or a mirage, that it’s not just some story that gullible, well-meaning idiots tell each other to make the world hurt less … something shifts inside of you.

You start chasing after it. However you can. And you realize that

if reading and studying scripture regularly

if thinking seriously about how to apply the Bible to your life

if praying more than you ever pictured yourself praying

or exploring the different ways Christians have practiced fasting over the centuries (not just giving up all food for days on end)

or if giving up an evening to help someone

will help you experience that deep, powerful, supernatural, peace that passes all understanding … then you sort of don’t mind it as much as you’d think you would.

Sometimes, You Just Need to Pray

Right now, my office is going through a time of transition. A flurry of different things have all come together at once — and we’re all trying to figure out how to adjust, how to keep focus, taking things day by day.

So I asked if we could have a prayer walk. It’s something we always do around New Year’s, and it felt like a good time for an impromptu mid-year time of prayer.

On Saturday morning, at 10 am, we gathered in our office, and walked to each desk. We took turns praying for each person — asking God to give them wisdom, clarity, strength, encouragement and peace. Then we prayed for their families: husbands, wives, kids — praying for the start of a new school year — or for any specific challenges we know they or their families are facing.

My office has a long history of prayer. Even people who weren’t able to come reached out to thank our group of prayers, and to share stories of when they’d been prayed for during times of great pain, hurt, and uncertainty.

Working in an office like this is so rare. So beautiful. So unique. Having the chance to be a part of this — to help continue a tradition of prayer, faith, and caring community — it’s a privilege. It’s something I don’t take for granted.

The 2+ hours we spend in prayer seemed to fly by. It didn’t once feel dull or boring. A sense of deep calm and peace feel over the room. In a place where I have been feeling so much stress and anxiety, I feel surrounded by a sense of peace. It was exactly what I needed — a feeling of God’s calm, care, and control. A feeling that we were deeply loved. And we weren’t going through this alone.

The “Perfect Christian” Lie

As a Christian, I have spend so many years feeling not good enough, not Christian enough to be a serious Christian.

The more I chase after God — with prayer, reading the Bible, and trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus — the more I realize how off-base that mindset is.

I wish more people realized how simple it is. (It’s not easy — not even remotely — but it’s simple.) I’m trying to put God at the center of my life. I’m trying to make everything about God, not about me.

The more time I spend chasing after God, the more I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. In times when I need to feel it the most. Surrounded by God’s power, peace, and hope … no matter what I might be facing. It doesn’t happen all the time — but man is it beautiful when it does. I wish I could bottle that feeling and give it to everyone in the world.

But God’s power, the impact of prayer, the presence of the Holy Spirit … it’s not something you can bottle and give away. It’s something you have to chase after, look for, discover … and fully experience … on your own.

I wish more people had the tools to get them there.

Because it is the most incredible thing.

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