Praying for an extended period of time has always been tough for me. My mind wanders easily and I excel in "shiny object" syndrome meaning, many items that are new or interesting catch my eye and I often immediately lose focus. "Oh look, a new mural... EW a rat!... Do I smell BBQ chicken? Wait, was I praying about something?"
Maybe others can relate. Or maybe others have mastered their prayer focus much better than I.
As I walked my section of East Harlem, I prayed specifically and broadly. I did my best to pray over the residents, the business owners, the schools in regards to the teachers, staff and students, the street vendors, the city workers, street performers, first responders, those who do not have a home, and others. I recalled certain Citizens app. instances along my walk which prompted certain prayers. And as I encountered inevitable shiny objects, I took those as cues to lead my prayer in different directions: for the hands that painted the new mural, the brand new family-owned barbershop that just opened, for the waiters darting back and forth between their restaurants and the temporary outdoor seating shelters, countless masks reminded me to pray for those who have been affected by Covid.
Around 114th and 1st I ran into a man leaving the vet with a puppy tucked into his chest and the image gave me pause as it reminded me of one of my favorite Scriptures: "He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart.." Isaiah 40:11. I then prayed that verse silently for those I encountered over the rest of my walk––that my neighbors might come to know the love of our Good Shepherd who carries his lambs close to his heart.
I am blessed to pray for my neighbors in these ways.