rhythms and ancient paths
Has lockdown disrupted your usual rhythms and routines? As we begin to emerge and embrace the summer, how can we find our rhythm again? Can old ancient paths be a prompt for prayer?
By Sammy Jordan
I am usually a creature of habit who thrives on routine, with a dash of spontaneity for good measure! At the moment I feel very much out of routine, I’ve lost my rhythm. Before lockdown I left a job, I’d been in for 11 years, in a church I’d been in for 26, to help plant a church on a new housing estate. Three lockdowns, two jobs and one house move later, I have no ‘normal’ rhythm to anchor me or find again, as restrictions ease; and I know I need to find one.
As I’ve pondered the need to find a rhythm and sensing God’s voice in it one of the calls, I’ve heard is to, ‘find and follow the ancient paths’.
‘Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it and find rest for your souls.’ Jeremiah 6:16
I love the history and story of a place, and the new estate where we live has given me lots of opportunities. It was once the country estate of the Earls of Southampton (it’s not posh really) and is in the Doomsday Book. Imagine my surprise when a neighbour came round the other day clutching an old map and excitedly announced, ‘Do you know that the path next to your house is an ancient one?’ I didn’t but then I was excited too! The footpath that is next to my house and leads to the park, is an ancient footpath. With the road my house is on and the one opposite, it forms a crossroads. I have stood on it and claimed Jeremiah 6:16 for all the people on my estate. What’s more, the community ‘Walk and Talk’ group I run (another story for another blog) meets at the ‘crossroads’ every Tuesday at 5.30pm and walks the paths around the estate!
Traditionally ‘ancient paths’ are spiritual practices that draw us closer to God and lead to the ‘promised land’: Christian disciplines like prayer, fasting, silence and solitude. As we emerge from restrictions into a new normal, I sense God is inviting us to remember the simple, holy habits; the practices of countless Christians before us, that sustain and anchor us in a changing world.
With the summer finally here it’s a good time to be prompted about ancient paths. As part of Prayer Walk 21 we are aiming to pray for every street, road, lane and path in the UK over the next year. As we pray, we are staking a kingdom claim on the land; the ground we walk
‘I will give you every place where you set your foot.’ Joshua 1:3
As we take to the land over the summer, from country walks to visits to ancient houses, gardens and blustery beaches, I wonder whether footpaths can serve as prompts to pray? Ancient paths remind us that we follow in the footsteps of people across history who have walked there before us. We are not alone, and perhaps some of them prayed on these paths too.
If a footpath is one prompt to pray, how about your phone as another? Pin your footpath, beach, country house prayers on the OIKOS prayer app Hope for Every Home : The Prayer App and you will be able to ‘leave your mark’ and see where others have prayed as we cover the country in prayer. You might also want to take part in our 21 Places to Pray Summer Challenge (link). I wonder whether, as we use our phones and footpaths to help us pray, we will find a new rhythm of prayer anchored in the routine of our day to day lives?
To explore this more watch our videos with Frog Orr-Ewing from Latimer Minster as he explores the prayer invitation of the ancient paths on his farm. (10) Facebook