Let’s Go For a Walk!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 NIV

Walking is so much a part of my daily routine that I guess someone might categorize me as a “walkaholic.” Not that I walk terribly far, because as I have gotten older the distance thing is out. But everywhere we have traveled, every neighborhood we have lived in I have walked. I have walked streets in Brazil, Nepal, Switzerland and India. I have walked around hotels, around town at my sister-in-law’s and every park within 15 miles. Of course, there is nothing spiritual about putting one foot in front of the other, but there are I think God likes to walk. In fact, throughout the Bible lots of people walked with God. All through the Bible people walked with God. Noah, walked faithfully with God (And got to build an ark!) Abraham was told to walk before the Lord. David even asked God to show Him His paths (see Psalm 25). In today’s verse, the Prophet Micah tells us to walk humbly with the Lord. So, what is there about walking that is important?

First walking says, “I am here!” I am sad after spending 30 minutes walking and see no one else outdoors except an occasional dogwalker. There are few children playing, no one in the gardens or cooking on the grill. All the garage doors are closed, and everyone is inside. It feels as if people are missing any connection to the place God has put them.

Secondly, when we walk, we tell others we are available. At first, it is difficult to get a smile or wave returned when we say good morning but stick with it. Peter and John healed a lame man while they were out on a walk. Jesus hiked over to a nearby village and there raised a widow’s son from the dead and He called Matthew to follow Him as He passed him on a city street. Walking connects us to where God puts us, and it also connects us to His purpose for putting us there – other people!

Last of all, God asks us to walk because it takes us out of our home and moves us closer to His. After all, in the book of Genesis we find out that Enoch walked with God and the Bible says, “God took him.” Now that’s either the shortest or the longest walk in history. “Hey honey I’m going out for my walk!” Enoch calls to his wife and then suddenly poof – he’s gone! Oh but the distance he and God traveled that day was immeasurable. “Hey Enoch, check out those thunder clouds,” or “How do you like this view of the Milky Way?” That has only happened twice in history but whether God takes us home directly while we are out of our house on the way to His is His choice. What matters is opening our doors, taking a step outside and walking where He leads! Have a blessed day walking with the Lord! I hope you will enjoy the photos of just a few of the places that I have gone for a walk.

The Legacy of Intercession

Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” Genesis 18:25 ESV

We begin looking at prayer this week, with one of the most vital purposes of prayer: intercession. If you are interested in a deeper look at intercessory prayer, I highly recommend Andrew Murray’s book, “The Ministry of Intercession” It is interesting to me that until we encounter Abraham (the Father of our Faith) we hear very little about prayer in the Bible. Surely Enoch prayed, along with other good guys, like Noah and Abel, but only Abraham’s prayers are recorded in detail. But if you think that Abraham started out by praying super spiritual requests you will be greatly disappointed. One of his earliest prayers that we have is found in chapter 15 of Genesis where he begins by saying,

O Sovereign Lord, what will you give me since I am childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus? Genesis 15:2

Then, even when God promises Abraham that despite his age, that he will not only have a son, but that God will give him the entire land of Canaan; what is his response?

O sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?" Genesis 15:8 ESV

Though these questions seem both a bit selfish as well as impertinent, God is not at all bothered by them. He loves Abraham’s prayers, and He is preparing to answer them one day in a spectacular fashion. Abraham’s prayers (and even better God’s response) give me hope as I grow in my own prayer life. After all, we don’t delight in listening to our children, only after they have graduated from college. We enjoy even their most immature conversations while they are toddling around our house, and we are still changing their diapers! Skipping ahead to chapter 17, we listen in again to Abraham praying a few years later, as now he is praying for someone besides himself.

And Abraham said to God, "If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!" Genesis 17:18 ESV

And then in the same way that friendships deepen as we become more deeply committed to one another, God continues to draw Abraham into a more intimate fellowship. So. just a couple of years later we come to Abraham, the intercessor in chapter 18. Here, he is no longer praying for himself, or even his family. This time, Abraham is asking for God’s mercy for the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and God patiently listens to his every word. Then Abraham asks –

"...will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Genesis 18:25b

What a question to ask God! It almost sounds like Abraham is making an accusation and yet God does not leap to His feet in anger. Instead, God gently guides Abraham’s prayers, step by step, towards greater and greater mercy. “Spare the city for fifty righteous.” evolves to thirty, twenty, ten and finally, only five. The biggest surprise for me is that eventually those who were spared were the family of Lot. These were not folks who I would have picked out as a particularly special loving group. No! They were complicated, messed up, far from perfect and a lot like us! So be encouraged today. God has given us a legacy of intercession that stretches all the way back to Abraham. Just as God cared enough to listen to Abraham pray for his own imperfect family, so God longs to hear us cry out for ours. He is eager to teach us, He is eager to listen, and He is waiting to answer us in spectacular fashion far beyond anything we could ever ask or think or even imagine!

A Heritage of Prayer

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. Luke 18:1 ESV

Some of you have noticed that I love to write devotionals. The truth is I also love to read devotional collections. Oswald Chambers, Joni Eareckson Tada, Charles Swindoll and Rick Warren have become friends whose example and teachings have encouraged me through some of the darkest times of my life. About a month ago, my wife, knowing my love of devotional writing brought me home a Beverly Lewis book titled, “Amish Prayers.” In it the author has compiled a selection of prayers translated from a German prayer book dating back to 1708. What a special blessing this little book has become to me!

The book, “Amish Prayers” in many ways reminded me of the book of Psalms. Then as I looked closely, I discovered that the Psalms are as much a book of prayers as an ancient Hebrew collection of hymns. That inspired me to begin looking through the Bible for other prayers and I discovered them everywhere! In fact, the Bible could just as well be called, God’s Prayer Book, because at the heart of the stories of the men and women of scripture is the heritage of their prayers. Some of those prayers are questions, some complaints, some cries for mercy and others simply times of praise. If you will join me, over the next week we are going to listen in to a few of those prayers and then bow our heads and pray along with them!