“Parks & Recreation” is one of my favorites walks in the book because it takes the reader behind the scenes to discover Londoners at play. The most militant prayerwalkers may be inclined to skip this chapter as a waste of time. I would strongly discourage this course of action, and here is my rationale.
Seven walks, seven topics
PrayerWalk London touches on seven areas of London life, from “Church & State” which includes Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, to “Resident & Alien,” addressing the changing face of London with the influx of immigrants in recent years.
Recreation is an integral part of London life and it would be foolish and neglectful to leave out this all-important area as a subject for prayer. Rest and recreation are not mere frivolous pursuits: they are part of a biblical injunction, provided in the example of God, the Creator, when having finished his masterpiece he “rested from all his work” (Genesis 2:3).
The “real” Londoners
Off the beaten path is where you’ll see the “real” Londoners. If you just see Londoners at work, you see one side: professional, unemotional, proper; if you see them at play with their children, spouses, and friends you see a carefree, tender, vulnerable, playfully competitive, familial side that otherwise you would miss.
The fact that Greater London has 8 major parks covering 4,900 acres of land is an indication of the importance of parks (and the leisure they represent) in the lives of Londoners.
Opportunities “off the beaten path”
One of the most fascinating conversations I had in London took place at an outdoor café on Marylebone High Street (voted BBC’s best street in London) with a socialist lady from Bristol as we discussed the British vs. American university system and their respective approaches to online education. And I was ridiculously pleased with my ability to fit in when in that same neighborhood a British woman asked me for directions to the nearest tube station — even though I didn’t feel quite as proud when I discovered later that I’d given her the wrong directions!
In other areas covered by this book, you will encounter shopkeepers, museum docents, Blue Badge guides, and business professionals who will view you as clients and tourists and interact with you accordingly. Here in the northern fringe of the city, you can actually mingle and potentially blend in with the locals and look into the eyes of the people you have been praying for.