Keeping Bowie on the prayer list
July 13, 2000
Delina D. Pryce
Staff Writer

Tom Knorr (second from left), founder of Prayerwalkers, leads the group in prayer Sunday in the tennis court parking lot of the "J" neighborhood. (From left) Scott Greenip, Knorr, Gale TeSelle, Ceasar Hay, Sharon Graves and Asabi Banjoko-Knorr join together for a prayer for Bowie.

Group vows to visit Bowie neighbors

You may have seen them strolling through the streets of Bowie. They do not look like your average fitness buffs, or like a family out for an evening walk. These walkers are on a mission, to pray for Bowie and in every neighborhood.

The Prayer Walkers take to Bowie sidewalks and pray for specific sections of the city. They pray for families, though they may not know them. They pray for businesses, politicians and schools.

"We're just asking God to bless these homes and we want him to be exalted," said Tom Knorr, the group's founder.

The inspiration for prayer walking began one day as Knorr walked around Old Bowie. He prayed at nearby churches, sat in Huntington Park and prayed for the community center, and left convinced that "the Lord wanted to bring renewal and revival to Bowie," said Knorr. "The Lord has put on my heart that we need to come together to pray," Knorr said.

"Just wanted to let you know we're praying for your community," Knorr tells people who inquire about the unusual pedestrians. He also offers to pray for any needs they may have in their lives.

Since the walks began in April, participants have enjoyed learning more about each other and getting to know neighborhoods and other areas in Bowie that they would otherwise not visit.

By following their schedule, the prayer walkers will have prayed for every section in Bowie by the end of October. The group that meets to walk is often small, sometimes two sometimes 12.

"I think we feel blessed no matter if there's four of us or 10 or 12," said Gale TeSelle, a Mount Oak United Methodist Church member who is a prayer walker. "It's really up to God how we will grow."

Knorr keeps many more residents who have not been involved in the group walking informed via e-mail.

"People are thinking about it and praying even if they can't meet corporately," said Knorr.

As the group walks they are led by the things they see in the community. A fire hydrant leads one member to pray for fire fighters in the area.

Seeing a garden may prompt the walkers to pray that the owners "get out the weeds in their life" and that ... they take care of their spiritual life in the same way they take care of their garden," said Asabi Banjoko-Knorr, a walker and Knorr's wife.

The Knorr's attend of Cornerstone Assembly of God in Bowie.

Primarily, the group sees the homes as the representation of families. They "pray for the renewal of family values" and that the parents are "bringing their children up in a Godly way," said TeSelle. They also ask for "the lifting up of Jesus as the hope and the help in [the family's] lives," TeSelle said.

"I feel we can intercede in the community for the Lord," said TeSelle.

"Homes are a lot like intersections," Knorr likes to say. Most accidents happen at intersections because that is where people going in different directions finally come together. Similarly chaos can arise in a home because "that's where we meet," said Knorr. Schools and the workplace are more of life's intersections that require fervent prayer, said Knorr.

The impact the prayer have walkers will not be obvious and tangible.

"What changes most is us and the people" that are involved, said Knorr.

"God has been changing the people that are praying," said Knorr. They're recognizing God's love for them and God's love for people, said Knorr. "This is a way they can express their love by praying for others," said Knorr. The project has also helped to "humble" the walkers into realizing that "only God can really bring healing and wholeness," Knorr said.

"Eventually we hope that we will have more of an effect in the community," said Banjoko-Knorr.

TeSelle believes that as more people "put their hope in the Lord, the Bowie community will be strengthened."

Bowie will gain more than strength, believes Banjoko-Knorr.

"When things are visible to people, (they) get a sense of peace," she said. Banjoko-Knorr wants the project to encourage more people to get to know their neighbors, their community and go "beyond their comfort zone" to develop "that community feel."

Knorr encourages residents to include prayer as they walk their dogs or walk with their families in the evenings.

Their mission is that prayer walking will bond the community despite social, economic and racial barriers. By getting members of various Bowie churches involved, the walkers pray there will be more unity between the congregations.

"Prayer is supposed to be the common bond with Christians," said Banjoko-Knorr.

Knorr's wife has helped him organize and promote the project. The two are software engineers at Honeywell in Greenbelt. They first met at the weekly Bible studies they attend with other employees.

Prayer walking around their workplace and fasting are also part of their weekly activities.

This winter, Knorr and his wife will regroup and plan for next year's prayer walking. Banjoko-Knorr is working on a Web site to provide information about the project. Knorr will collect church directories from Bowie congregations and compile a database of names grouped by neighborhood. In this way, Knorr will be able to directly contact residents when it's time to walk in their section. He will call businesses to solicit their prayer requests as well.

The group plans to be around for years to come.

"It's not a fly-by-night thing," said Asabi Banjoko-Knorr. "If it's about God, it will last beyond what we might even expect."