Norwich prayer walkers tell of their experience
A Norwich couple, who long to see a revival in the city, have been prayer walking around the streets on a regular basis for the last eight years.
By Helen Baldry
Paul and Val Waller have been members of Wroxham Road Methodist Church for around 35 years and are also part of the Call to Prayer team in Fishergate and involved with the "Transforming the Atmosphere" group.
Val said, “We love Norwich. It is a beautiful city and are very blessed to be living here.” They lament the fact that the 2001 census showed Norwich to be ‘the most godless city in the UK’. However, it was also at one time known as the most Christian city in Europe and during the Middle Ages there were leper hospitals outside most of the city gates. More money was left in legacies to the poor than anywhere else in England and praying hermits lived above some of the gates that guarded the city.
Val said, “We long to see God turn that around again.” The purpose of prayer walking is to speak blessings upon an area in order to bring God’s light to the land.
While they are walking, the couple witness the desperate state of the city as they encounter homelessness, people mental health problems, evidence of drug use and businesses closing. They see how emergency services are stretched and how few police officers are on the streets.
“We carry God’s light into these dark places.” Says Val, who insists that she and Paul are just ordinary people. “God uses the ordinary. We just go out in obediance and bring the light of our Lord into our streets.”
Paul and Val say that history is significant because it has an impact on the city today. Paul said, “What has gone on in the past has big effects physically and spiritually.”
They research an area before they embark on a walk to uncover what has happened there in the past. For example, they say that historical battles have a profound effect on the Barrack Street area of the city. The people of Norwich suffered several plagues and destructive fires in medieval times and rioting in the the thirteenth century.
Paul describes former execution site Lollards Pit, where Christian martyr Thomas Bilney was burned to death, as a ‘very dark area’.
Before they go out, the couple take communion together and sometimes they write out verses from the Bible and place them in the ground. Paul said, “It might sound a bit strange but it’s scriptural. We’ve seen results but it’s nothing to do with us – it’s God.” Paul explained that there is no correct formula for prayer walking, “Anyone can prayer walk and there is no right or wrong way to do it as long as you seek the Lord and ask for his strategy. You don’t even have to go out. It is possible to refer to a map as a guide as you pray for your local area.” Paul recommend going out in pairs or threes. He said, “I find it really exciting.”
Paul and Val are not the only prayer walkers in the region. Several other people with a passion to pray for their communities speak out blessings on their local areas - and more people are encouraged to give it a go. Resources are available from the House of Prayer on Fishergate. Paul and Val, who have prayer walked around the 13 miles of the ring road, say this is a task that anyone can do and they believe it will pave the way for long term transformation.
Pictured: Paul and Val Waller with their prayer walking map of Norwich