Active prayer for active Christians

Jodie McNeill

There are few times when I pray with my eyes open. You'll be pleased to know that driving is one of them.

Yet, last year I prayed with my eyes open in a totally different context.

I had just finished teaching the Bible to my team at the Youthworks Outdoors staff retreat, and it was time for us to pray.

Mark Lawler, our head of outdoor recreation training and seasoned outdoor minister, jumped up to run the prayer session.

I had expected him to lead us in prayer from the lectern, or to ask some of the team to stand up and pray from the front, or perhaps to get us to break up into small groups to sit down and pray.

Instead, Mark asked us to get up from our seats and find someone whose shirt was the same colour, and then partner up with that person in prayer. Then, instead of sitting down in prayer couples, he asked us to get up, walk outside, and pray whilst walking through the campsite.

For about fifteen minutes it looked like a Jehovah's Witness training drill as pairs of devoted pray-ers walked around the bush, sharing and praying together.

For me, it was another 'aha' moment in ministry.

The kind of people who love to serve in outdoor ministries are generally the kind of people who love being active. God had brought a whole team of us together, so another fifteen minutes sitting still was likely to be counter-productive.

But it's not just for outdoors and sporty types. Many children and youth find it hard to sit still for too long. That's why this could be an excellent activity to run during youth camps.

If you're the kind of person for whom this style of prayer is attractive, then you might be the kind of person who loves being 'active in sharing your faith' (our tagline in outdoor ministry). Maybe an outdoor ministry apprenticeship could be the ideal place for you to serve full-time?

But most importantly, this style of prayer reminds us that God has created us in many different ways.

Educational experts speak of different biases in our learning styles. Some of us learn best by hearing ('auditory learners'), some learn best by watching ('visual learners') but others learn best by doing ('kinaesthetic learners').
If we are to include every kind of learner and participant in our ministries, we need to keep thinking of ways to help those learn best through doing, as much as those who prefer hearing and watching.

Have you got any 'active' forms of ministry that have worked well in your church, school or outdoor setting?