As I look back on my hike and the first couple of days of journaling, I remember the first quote I was reflecting on as a prayer exercise while hiking.
Charles Spurgeon wrote these words: “God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand we must trust His heart.”
The hashtag #PrayWithYourFeet had become one that I often used when posting photos about my pilgrimage on Instagram and Facebook. To me, the idea is that prayer not simply be a routine spiritual exercise but something grounded in physical activity…integrated with the hiking itself. As I hiked the first 10 miles or so to get to a shelter area that first day, my hope was that the very act of walking along this blazed trail would become a way of spiritually engaging with God.
It is difficult to say exactly at what point in my hike prayer became fully integrated with the physical journey, but I know that it did not take very long. And after experiencing significant struggles with prayer over the past few years, I was pleasantly surprised to find my conversations with God while on the trail were coming more freely than they had in years.
By the 2nd day of my hike, I had also made some relational connections with a couple of fellow hikers. “May” and “Catfish” would be my main hiking companions for the first few days and then “May” continued to journey with me for the first two weeks on the trail. We had some great experiences and conversations together, but I found myself eager to hike ahead of these guys for the first few hours each day in order to protect my times of solitude and prayer on the trail.
For the next few days, I would slowly immerse myself in the 23rd Psalm which became the most impactful passage of scripture for me during the entire 23 days of hiking (coincidence?) and I began each hiking day prayerfully quoting each section of the Psalm as I walked along. Although it took a few days of hiking meditatively to get through the whole passage, each day of my hike would begin with these words:
“The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need!”
God as shepherd and Christ as our “good shepherd” (John 10:11) are very familiar images and motifs in the Bible. All throughout scripture, this image of being a sheep under the care of the Good Shepherd recurs but it has often felt like churchy or religious language that doesn’t make much sense to non-agrarian folk like myself. However, over the next 23 days, I owned this language and began seeing more deeply into the words and David’s proclamation in Psalm 23 that the Lord is my shepherd.
Pray with your feet! This phrase has become more than a hashtag, it has become something like a prayer activator for me. To walk…to take steps along any path towards a destination reminds me to keep in step with the Spirit.