If you don’t want to read the narrative of the journey in general and want to skip to the lessons i learnt, go ahead and scroll to the bottom, if not read along.
Before i start, i just want to let future me know that when you say you should write this as soon as you get back, listen to that voice. Do not procrastinate because you just found out you have a ton of work to do. I told you so. Alright, end note.
It’s true though, life is so busy and i haven’t been good at carving out time to write which i say i’ll do but never. However, this i felt i really needed to write and share what i learned and saw because it’s not just for me, i hope whoever reads this will be blessed in some way. Or you would take the chance and try a prayer walk too.
When i first heard about the prayer walk/ride (it’s a ride because we were going to take public transport and pray while being on the move, we still walked though) i thought it was a cool idea. I had never tried it and had heard people share their experiences before. I was coming in somewhat excited until i couldn’t sleep till 2 a.m. and had to wake up at 7. I woke up groggy and miraculously made it on time to church (maybe because it’s a public holiday today). We were briefed on what the objectives were, the do’s and don’t’s which i have to say on the part of the church, kudos to being very detailed and organised. We then left o board the train. Side note, i love taking trains especially when there’s hardly anyone and i get to enjoy the view in peace.
We were told that the prayer walk officially started once we boarded the train, but i didn’t see anyone praying so i just enjoyed the novelty of everything. When we reached the designated station and we were going down the escalators, we saw these luxury condominiums being built and the first member began to pray aloud for the migrant workers who may have come into the country legally or illegally. That they would be safe. We then boarded the bus which we would ride in a loop to return to the train station. My leader decided that we should stop at a school and walk and pray to the next bus stop. As a teacher, i appreciated that we made a stop here and prayer for the teachers in the school that they would be strengthened in their journey of educating the nation. And for the kids to be inspired to be nation builders and not breakers. Walking down the road i also noticed a road sweeper and prayed for his safety as he did his job. I soon got more comfortable with the whole thing and began to pray aloud more frequently instead of quietly to myself. One interesting note was that when we crossed the road, there was an old man crossing with us too. We then passed him and walked ahead. But then we decided to stop and it happened that he caught up with us and was going through that alley to get home. We started a conversation and it was a blessing to get to talk to strangers and know a bit about them. We prayed for the man when he left, but wow, God does bring people to you if you are only willing.
We soon ended out walk and coincidentally met up with the rest of the group at the bus station. It was decided that we would debrief in the mamak instead of the station where we had originally planned. That was where we shared out experiences and stories and i was truly further blessed by everyone’s sharing. There is just something affirming and encouraging about having a shared experience and talking about it to each other. I don’t know, i feel like there should be more of this. So here goes the summary of lessons learnt.
1. Everyone has different concerns that weigh in their heart. For a friend it was construction workers because her father was in that line. For me it was education because i’m a teacher. Having a diverse group of people certainly brought different perspectives when it came to looking at the same thing. I wouldn’t have noticed something if someone hadn’t pointed it out.
2. Money money money. The area we went to was affluent. People lived there to make a statement that they had made it. Houses were pretty and impressive, cafe’s were competing to look hip and dish out interesting food. However, not everyone that lives here could really afford this sort of lifestyle. To do so they need to work almost all the time to keep up. My leader shared how her father also bought into this and was paying a huge sum of money just to rent a house in the area. I get the allure of city life, it’s convenient, there’s all the amenities you need, and i like to enjoy some good food (that’s a but pricier) and goods once in a while. However, the trap is that you can easily get sucked into a vicious cycle. To obtain these you need to work hard, but there’s always more and more things you NEED to have. And so there the cycle starts, it will never be enough. When do you say, “here is where i draw the line?” When does it become an obsession instead of a source of satisfaction for hard work?
3. You notice a lot more when you have a purpose in mind. I’ve driven past this area numerous times, hung out with friends in the cafe’s/restaurants and shopped in the area. Never did i think that i could pray for anything and everything i saw. With this purpose in mind to pray as the Lord leads, i began to notice so much more, the people, the condition of the shops, the public amenities and began to pray for these specific things. I noticed the news house and prayed. I noticed the Starbucks that hired deaf people and prayed for more opportunities like this in the country. There is just so much to pray for if you just open your eyes and see.
4. The sower and the seed. In the bible there is the parable of the sower and the seed. There were different types of grounds that the seeds fell on and each reacted differently. Some grew, some did not. This is not my own reflection but a leader’s, but i find it rings absolutely true. As mentioned before, the area that we went to was affluent. And she said that she felt like this was hard ground. The receptiveness to the gospel was difficult here because people were comfortable and busy chasing money to stop and think about the truth in the gospel. Even if they did, it does not offer them what their heart desires. This is why when my leader asked me if i felt anything about the area, at first i thought i wasn’t feeling anything, but thinking about it now, i did feel something, i just didn’t think it related to the prayer walk. It was emptyness. Behind all the facade of wealth, there was this emptyness that needed to be filled.
5. It’s a competition to get your attention. On our route there were a total of three malls that we passed by. We could even stop and walk in if we wanted to. A leader noticed that the way advertisement in the mall were designed spoke to the core of human needs. The need for finding a place of belonging. One shop called itself the house of luggage, and we are constantly looking for a home, and our true destination should be the House of God. Also phone shops were advertising connectivity with loved ones, and as much as that is important, it is also important to connect with the Father. And so, there are so many things that compete for our attention and it is easy to get swayed from trying to connect with God when you’re bombarded with advertising day in day out. I never noticed till now, but being a city girl, this had become the norm and i didn’t realize its effect on me. So, less shopping? haha
6. Racial unity. There were some houses along the road and we took some time to guess who stayed there. The funny thing was that it was really easy to guess based on what they displayed at the front of their house and we noticed that malay, chinese and indian residents lived side by side. In the city this is really difficult to find, and so far i’ve been talking about the negatives, so this is one of the positives of this area. That there is a quiet sense of community amongst the loud noise of the pubs and cafes.