The definition of prayer, as found in This is Our Faith by Michael Pennock, is stated as “Conversation with God. Joining one’s thoughts and love to God in adoration and blessings, petition, intercession, and thanksgiving.”
I recently was a member of a team that served others during a 3-day spiritual retreat. All the workers were asked to participate in what is known as the Jericho March. A Jericho March is functionally a prayer walk by a group of people. In Joshua 6, we find the first example of a Jericho March.
As Joshua was leading Israelites to the land God promised them, they crossed the Jordan River they were faced with hardship as they entered the land of Canaan, the first city, Jericho, as it was filled with false Gods and false promises. Joshua 6:2-5 states that “Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark (Ark of the Covenant). On the seventh day, march around the city seven times with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse, and people will go up, every man straight in.” From my perspective, I am sure that Joshua struggled to understand what God was going to do, but through prayer and petition, God delivered the land.
That leads me back to the Jericho March that we held at the spiritual retreat. At the beginning of the retreat, we were given the name of a person to pray for throughout the weekend. On Day 2, we were asked to walk around the building in which those on the journey were located, six times praying for the individual we had been assigned. Then on the seventh time around, we were asked to pray their name out loud, not in a shout, but yet in a prayerful petition. After completing the 7th time around the building, we were asked to place our hands on the wall of the building and then continue to pray. We were praying that these individuals would let the “walls” of their hearts open and let the love of God in, with all his grace and forgiveness.
The day was beautiful, clear skies, the silence within the campground, an unmistakable peace that the Holy Spirit was present. Those within the walls of that building had no idea we were outside taking part in this Jericho March, yet at the end of the session, amongst the silence and peace that was present, all of a sudden there was a loud cheer. Those inside let out a shout of praise to God. Everyone on the outside of the building was overjoyed with tears and thanksgiving, as it was a sign the “walls had fallen”. God had heard and answered our prayer! God is good!
Reflecting individually, this is the first time I had spent this lengthy amount of time in prayer. It is hard to spend a long time in prayer with all the distractions of the world. Additionally, the power of this experience can be and was overwhelming. It was the best thing I have experienced in terms of clearing all of my heart and mind of distractions and allowing the Holy Spirit to be present, working through me to serve God’s will. I can’t explain the feeling, goosebumps, a.k.a. God bumps present for no reason, and just the overwhelming joy. I hope everyone gets to experience this type of prayer and movement of God within your life.
During this experience, I think one thing that made it so powerful was a dedication to all the five necessary forms of prayer during the retreat:
Blessing and adoration – Thanking God for all the gifts he has blessed us with. Allowing adoration of God to pour out of our heart and mind to recognize he has given us everything around us.
Petition –Before intercession for others, we need to make sure to clear our own hearts and minds, allowing any sins weighing on our hearts to be released. We can also pray for forgiveness of our past transgressions.
Intercession – Praying for others. Whether this is individually or within a group, praying for others is powerful. “For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.” (Matthew 18:20) God is with us when we come together in His name!
Thanksgiving – Expressing gratitude! Where blessing and adoration is focused on the beauty of God himself, thanksgiving is praising him for everything he has created. Friends, family, health, and the beauty of the world around us was given to us through the blessing of God.
Isn’t it such a beautiful mental image to know that we can have a direct connection with our one true savior and God? All we have to do is come to him in prayer. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16, the apostle Paul wrote, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
As we enter into this time of year, we are blessed with Fall; such a beautiful season. If you look around on a cool, crisp morning, a beautiful sunrise peeping over a tree line and the changes in the leaves. It is the perfect atmosphere to remind us to seek the Lord in prayer and give thanks for all the Lord has given to us!
If you do not have any other place to start, you can always begin with this beautiful and powerful prayer:
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen” (CCC, 2759).
I am challenging myself to spend more time within prayer. I also offer you this challenge:
What can you identify as areas for growth in prayer, and how can you challenge yourself to gain a closer relationship with God?