Prayerwalking with the Litany

In some evangelical circles prayerwalking has become a common practice. WayMakers gives a description:

In hundreds of cities around the world, God is helping Christians to pray as they pass through the streets of their communities. We’ve come to use the word prayerwalking to describe this kind of on-site intercession. Prayerwalking is simply praying in the very places we expect God to bring forth the answers to our prayers. Our prayers are extending beyond our own concerns, focusing directly on the needs of our neighbors. Prayerwalking is not so much about walking or being outside. It’s drawing nearer to those for whom we pray, so that we can be clearer about what we are to pray.

This practice seems to grow out of a sense that praying in church and in the prayer-closet, while good, needs to be supplemented with something out in the open. Liturgically, I think it can be encouraged and shaped by outdoor Litany processions, which according to Percy Dearmer were introduced to the streets of Constantinople in 398 by St John Chrysostom. Just as psalms and collects can become part of our private devotion and help form our thoughts, the Litany can be the paradigm for group prayer through the streets, calling for God’s mercy upon our ever-dependent race.

For evangelical Anglicans and others who wish to pray for the revival of the Church and the conversion of the land, the Litany seems to be the perfect tool, eminently suited to this need. In various times of need, from its introduction in 1544, it has served us well, training us to seek the Lord in all time of our tribulation, in all time of our wealth and in the hour of death:

As these prayers and suffrages folowing, as set furth of most godly zeale for edifying and stirringe of devotion of all true faithfull christen hartes: so is it thoughte convenient in this commune prayer of procession to have it set furth and used in the vulgar tungue: and it shall be every christen mans parte reverently to use the same, to the honour and glory of almyghty god, and the profitte of their owne soules.

This underused part of the Book of Common Prayer may well prove to be more important than the frequency of its use would suggest.

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