Posts Tagged Guidebook

Tackling Crime & Punishment

16 March 2012

Woohoo! I just love the hour or two first thing in the morning when I get to work on PrayerWalk London. It feels like such a luxury to spend time on something that’s so exciting to me and that I’m so passionate about. I could spend the whole day on it but I usually have to transition to other things like the writing and consulting work that actually pays the bills! 🙂

I’m thankful for bills, though. Sometimes they act as a great motivating factor. I’d be a lot less productive were it not for that added incentive!

So, back to prayerwalking. I’ve set aside 52 days – until April 25 – to make the PrayerWalk London manuscript an absolute priority. If I don’t do that, then too many other “important” things take precedent and PWL gets shoved back farther and farther on the agenda, kind of like those thank you notes I’ve been meaning to write since February.

The chapter I’m currently working on is CRIME & PUNISHMENT. It’s the third chapter in the book and follows CHURCH & STATE and CROWN & GLORY. It tackles the “underworld” of London and takes the reader through the parts of the city related to crime, law and justice:

  • The Tower of London that dates back to the 11th century and has been a royal palace, a prison and a place of execution. It’s also where the Crown Jewels are displayed.
  • The Central Criminal Court nicknamed “Old Bailey” where infamous criminals like Jack the Ripper were tried and held.
  • The site of the former Newgate Prison, written about by Charles Dickens and other writers, and another site of public execution.
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral – to throw in an element of God’s justice versus man’s, along with the aspect of forgiveness and redemption.

London's busy business district

Did You Know? London is divided into two “cities”: the City of Westminster and the City of London.

The first two walks in the book take place within the City of Westminster where you’ll find Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, the West End and many other popular places to visit. The City of London is the main financial and business district and can be easily spotted by its glittering skyscrapers and modern buildings. CRIME & PUNISHMENT takes the reader through the heart of the City of London.

The Royal Exchange or "REX"

Take a Break. As you walk from the Tower of London to St. Paul’s Cathedral, take some time to pause at the little park in front of the Royal Exchange, where business has been transacted since the Middle Ages and that they’ve now turned into a commercial establishment selling luxury goods. You’ll see to your left the famous Bank of England, looking like a fortress surrounded by a high windowless wall. Behind you is Mansion House, the residence and office of the Lord Mayor of the City of London.

Okay, so much for the sneak peak. Gotta get back to writing the chapter!

PrayerWalk Paris — Walk 1 (Sneak Peek)

7 September 2011

Notre Dame, ParisThe Historic Heart of Paris

Ile de la Cité & Ile St. Louis

Summary of Area

It is thought that Paris began around 250 BC as a primitive Celtic fishing village on Ile de la Cité, a little island in the middle of the Seine. Ile St. Louis, the other island in the Seine, is tree-lined and picturesque these days but was a swampy pastureland prior to development efforts in the 17th century. Today, Ile St. Louis houses one of the most exclusive residential neighborhoods of Paris. Enjoy centuries of natural and man-made history as you walk from the Gothic masterpiece of Notre-Dame to King Louis IX’s intimate royal chapel, Sainte-Chapelle.

Key Facts

      • Starting Point: Point Zéro (metro: St. Michel; Cité)
      • Finishing Point: Palais de Justice (metro: Cité)
      • Days to Avoid: None
      • Length of Walk: 1 mile 1/2
      • Time Needed: 3 hours

1. Point Zéro

Point Zéro (also Kilomètre Zéro) is a circular bronze plaque on the ground about 30 yards from the central doorway of Notre-Dame that marks the geographical center of Paris. It is also the spot from which all highway distances in France are measured. The equestrian statue to the right as you face the church is of Charlemagne (“Charles the Great”), known as the first Holy Roman Emperor. Catholicism was the “politically correct” religion of the French people until the Revolution in 1789.


2. Notre-Dame

Visitor Information – Free admission; church open daily; hours vary depending on day of the week: 8:00 am-6:45 pm weekdays, 8:00 am-7:45 pm weekends. Free English tours available. Visit early in the morning when the cathedral is at its brightest and least crowded. Free organ concert on Sunday afternoons. Website:

It took 170 years to create the Gothic masterpiece of Notre-Dame de Paris, with its flying buttresses, rose windows of stained glass, 295-ft spire, two massive towers and host of gargoyles. The colorful windows were designed to tell Bible stories in pictorial form to an illiterate populace.

Kings and emperors were crowned and blessed in Notre-Dame. It was here in December 1804 that Napoleon took the imperial crown out of the hands of Pope Pius VII and laid it on his own head, as depicted by Jacques-Louis David in his painting Coronation of Napoleon, which now hangs in the Louvre.

Notre-Dame is designed in the shape of a Christian cross, with the altar where the crossbeam intersects. The cathedral can hold up to 10,000 people and often does so when hosting classical music concerts. The South Rose Window depicts Christ in the center, surrounded by virgins, saints, and his twelve apostles while the North Rose Window pictures the Virgin encircled by figures from the Old Testament.

Prayer Points:

  • For the warmth of the Gospel to envelop Parisians who have only known the coldness of an impersonal religion.
  • That a genuine, transforming encounter with Christ would replace ritual and religiosity.
  • That the complete story of Christ would be preached: that the hope of his resurrection might replace the sadness of his death.
  • That the spiritual walls of stone and gates of iron that have separated a “religious” people from their Savior since the Middle Ages would be broken down.

Point to Ponder: Sitting in one of the hundreds of wooden chairs in the nave, feel the coldness of the stone and how far away God seems among the gilt and statuary. This is the god of millions of Parisians: a distant, cold and impersonal deity.

Take a Break: The café directly to your right as you exit the cathedral is a wonderful place to sit and reflect on what you’ve just seen. It’s called Aux Tours de Notre-Dame and though pricey – as are all cafés in Paris – you can enjoy a good cup of coffee and a sweet snack that will help you through the rest of your sightseeing. And you’ll need energy, especially if you plan on climbing to the top of the towers. This side street is a great place to buy postcards, too.

Tip: Candles in Churches. In visiting the many churches of Paris, you may be tempted to buy some candles to burn. Before you do, consider that – though they look pretty – Catholics consider candles an integral part of their sacred ritual of praying to saints and to Mary.

3. Towers of Notre-Dame

Visitor Information – Admission: €8 adults, €5 ages 18-26 (must meet certain conditions) and seniors, children under 18 are free. Tower entrance covered by museum pass but no bypass line for pass holders. Open daily 9:30 am-7:30 pm, with seasonal variations. To avoid crowds, arrive before 10:00 am or after 6:00 pm.

To get to the top of the towers of Notre-Dame, you must climb 387 spiral stone steps that get narrower as you get closer to the top. The reward for such painful labor is a breathtaking view of Paris. The towers are 246 feet high and the main bell, called the “Emmanuel” was last rung in 1944 to celebrate the liberation of France.

Gargoyle Fact: As you look out over Paris, notice the eerie stone creatures that are also gazing down on the city and have been doing so for centuries. These gargoyles are meant to represent souls caught between heaven and earth. Their main practical function, however, is as rain spouts.

Take a Break: Square Jean XXIII, behind the cathedral, is a delightful place to eat a picnic lunch, to read, or to watch people.

4. Ile St. Louis

Charming, enchanting, and picturesque, Ile St. Louis is quintessential Paris. Among the attractions of this quaint little island are the 17th century hôtels, cafés, chic restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques that line its main street, St.-Louis-en-l’Ile. The wealthy and the famous have resided here for centuries. The best way to view this tiny island may be to wander through the streets without any specific trajectory.

Lines at Berthillon can stretch around the block

Tip: There’s a post office here that may be a convenient place to buy stamps for your postcards. Ask for stamps for the United States:“Des timbres pour les Etats-Unis, s’il vous plait”. Show them your postcards so they know what the stamps are for. Try your French but they will probably respond to you in English.

Take a Break: Berthillon, an ice cream parlor on Ile St. Louis, is famous for having the best ice cream in Paris. Their selection includes over 70 varieties. Order a single-scoop (“Un cornet seul”) or a double (“Un cornet double”). Note that eating ice cream in-house is usually more expensive than ordering to go. Berthillon, 29-31 rue St-Louis-en-l’Ile, 75004; Open Wed-Sun 10:00 am-8:00 pm; Closed Mon, Tue, and August.

Why Include “Recreation” in a Prayerwalking Guide?

12 March 2011

“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.

Sunday in Regent's Park

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”

BBC's "best street in London"

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.

Behind the Scenes: The Making of PrayerWalk London

4 March 2011

I thought I would take you along with me on one of my “reconnaissance” missions from this past summer: my fact-gathering trip to London to research the chapter of PrayerWalk London called “Parks & Recreation.”

From journal entry dated Sunday, July 18, 2010

Research Begins

I discovered my raison d’etre at the birth of the PrayerWalk guidebook series seven years ago. All those seemingly random and diverse “dots” in my life came together and a picture emerged that not only made perfect sense but made my pulse beat faster because it was so completely what I could see myself doing for the rest of my life.

Today I’ve taken an early train to London to do some research for PrayerWalk London, which I hope to finish in early 2011 in light of the upcoming London 2012 Olympics. My goal is to encourage Christians visiting London to have a prayerful mindset and to realize that they can make an eternal difference even as they enjoy themselves by praying as they walk around the city.

Regent’s Park and Marylebone

My reconnaissance mission for today is the area of Regent’s Park and Marylebone (pronounced “Marly-bone”) just north of the city center.

Narrowing down the area that I’ll cover happens seemingly randomly. With Marylebone, I asked a British friend of mine, Caroline, for a recommendation as to the best place to have tea in London – a pretty general question considering there are hundreds of tearooms! She told me that Marylebone High Street was one of her favorite places to go in London and mentioned a little market on Moxon Street that she likes there as well. I’ve learned to listen to the “natives:” they always know the best little places that often go unmentioned in major guidebooks.

Farmer's Market on Moxon St.

As I did my initial research I prayed that God would guide me and give me a check in my spirit if I was wasting time at any point in my research. I prayed that He would open my eyes so that I could see more clearly what He wanted me to see.

The theme for this walk is “Parks and Recreation.” I think it’s very appropriate that this walk be done on a Sunday. Relaxing alone or with family is a very important – and very healthy part – of English life. Just look at all the parks in London! On any given Sunday all of London turns out to enjoy family and fun in the city’s parks.

The Strategy

Today I’ll be doing the walk in reverse order from what it will probably be in the book. Why? For one thing, there’s a market from 10 am to 2 pm on Sundays only and I’d like to browse there and pick up some picnic items for a picnic in the park.

I have a pedometer on me, and as I walk I’ll make notations concerning the time and distance between each highlight of the route. There will be seven walks in PrayerWalk London, and each chapter will begin by noting the starting point and finishing point of the walk, days to avoid the walk (for example, if the walk includes a museum that is closed on a certain day of the week), and the length and time needed for the walk.

Want to see how the walk turned out? See Parks & Recreation Highlights.