This Sunday we’re going to sing a traditional African American spiritual at Upper Room called “Guide my Feet”:
“Guide my feet while I run this race. Guide my feet while I run this race. Guide my feet while I run this race, ’cause I don’t want to run this race in vain.”
It’s a simple song, but it’s poignant for where we’re at as a community right now and has meaning in the story of how Upper Room came to be. Two winters ago, when Mike and I were first walking around Squirrel Hill and other neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, praying about where God might be calling us to plant a new church, this song became a theme for me. I would sing it in my mind while we walked, literally praying that our feet would be guided to where God wanted us to be. In the first few months of this adventure of planting a church, I sang this song often thinking about how long a journey we had ahead of us. It’s a simple prayer for guidance that God answered months ago when we first prayer-walked through this neighborhood, and is still answering today as we look for what direction to turn next.
This past Thursday, a handful of folks from Upper Room came out to prayer-walk through Squirrel Hill. We began by explaining that people can prayer-walk in different ways: sometimes you pray out loud and it looks like you’re just conversing with the person next to you, sometimes you pray silently, sometimes you just seek to be attentive to the Spirit’s leadings as you walk and observe what’s going on around you. Then we set off for an hour of doing this in two groups. This is part of renewed emphasis on prayer in Upper Room, which is already starting to bear fruit.
I tweeted a few weeks ago that I’m grateful for presbytery staff who encourage me to pray more. The encouragement they gave that day was directed at the entire community of Upper Room. We began through and with a heavy emphasis on prayer, and it’s good to be returning to that prayer now. As one of my favorite quotes from the Philokalia goes, “Pray persistently about everything, and then you will never do anything without God’s help. Nothing is stronger than prayer in its action, nothing more effective in winning God’s favour.” – St. Mark the Ascetic, 5th Century –