Monday, July 21, 2014

Praying the Streets

This morning I walked some of the streets in Buda, praying as I went along. I listened to a recording of "Morning Prayer" for part of the way, and I prayed for various people and situations as I passed them. Everything deserves God's attention: "The earth is the LORD's, and all that is in it" (Ps. 24:1), and everything that caught my attention, I prayed for: 
  • the children who play on the playscape at the city park
  • the United Methodists and their pastor & secretary
  • those who receive food from the food pantry
  • the teachers and students at the elementary school
  • the kids who play GAGA ball
  • the residents of the homes in the neighborhood
  • the pastor and members at First Baptist Church
  • the proprietors of businesses downtown, by name if I knew them
  • the city employees
  • the firefighters, Lion's Club, senior citizens
  • those who collect trash
  • the men constructing a new home
  • the cows in the field and the families who depend on their productivity
  • the green grass, and weather to keep it so
  • those who travel on trains
  • wise choices for economics and commerce that serve the common good
  • fair business practices and safe working conditions
  • owners of stores that have closed
  • my dentist and her staff
  • the occupants of each car that passed me as I waited for the light to change

I also thought about praying itself, how it works, why we do it. I realized that praying in a somewhat general way, by category rather than by name, felt very communal on my solo walk. I felt like I was drawing each thing for which I prayed into the care and protection of God, drawing together all these pieces that intersect by geography or happenstance in this little town of Buda. We may not all know each other, but we belong together by virtue of living in the same community.

I thought too about people who do not pray themselves, or who do not particularly want to be prayed for, especially by a stranger-pastor who may be a nut job for all they know. What if the "aha!" moment, the "I just felt differently about it one day" is a result of someone praying for them? There's connection and belonging again: as Dr. Cindy Rigby preached at Austin Seminary recently: "Prayer creates space for us to imagine God's desires", and I believe God desires connection with all of creation. Perhaps a random prayer from a stranger is the thing that makes all the difference. I'm not sure, but I'm willing to spend my time, and my 10,000 daily steps, just in case.