Time to Exercise Your Prayer Life
About fifteen years ago my husband and I started praying together out loud during our morning walks–to save time, to energize our bodies, to revitalize our spirits, and to enjoy some intimate moments before going off to work. And quite honestly, it was a great way to take care of two important things at once–exercise and prayer! There were no books on the topic that I knew of, and I had not heard of anyone who combined praying and walking (except cloistered nuns or monks, perhaps). In recent years, however, prayer walks have become something of a phenomenon.
Author Janet McHenry made it the focus of two of her books: PrayerWalk and Daily PrayerWalk. Recently I had the opportunity to speak with Janet about this growing trend–especially among women.
“How do you define prayerwalking?” I asked.
“Prayerwalking is praying for whatever God puts within your eyesight. Steve Hawthorne, another writer on prayerwalking says it’s praying ‘on site with insight.’ And I agree–you trust God to help you see the needs as you walk, and then pray accordingly.”
Janet said she has experienced some profound results–physically and spiritually–as a result of her own prayerwalks. “I lost weight and dress sizes,” she said. Aches and pains in her joints vanished, and she noticed more energy throughout her day.
“The depression that clouded most of my adult life has disappeared, and fears that prevented me from boldly stepping out and doing God’s will no longer control me. I feel whole–in fact, my entire countenance has changed,” she added, smiling as she spoke.
Janet is as aware as anyone of how precious time is. “I work full-time as a high school English teacher, have four active, involved kids, and write and speak,” she said.
“What we need, however, is a new orientation as we’re deciding to seek a deeper relationship with God. I now intentionally decide to live my day around the time I spend with Him, instead of the other way around.”
To accomplish this, Janet walks an hour each weekday beginning at 5 a.m. and to make that happen she’s let go of many things that were in the way–such as regular night meetings, lengthy phone conversations, internet time and television (which she has not watched for over 20 years)!
Janet said that meeting her “Personal Trainer each morning is more important than any of that.” She claims that if we don’t communicate with the Creator, how can we expect to convince others of His importance to us.
I asked Janet about the benefits of prayerwalking with a partner–a spouse, for example, or a friend or one’s child. “There are definite plusses to walking with someone else,” she said. “A partner provides accountability, companionship, safety, and additional insight and agreement as you pray together.”
For example, on Mondays, Janet walks with her teacher-friend, Pam, around the schools in their community.
“I also know women who prayerwalk with their husbands,” Janet added, “and I think that’d be wonderful. My husband, however, is a rancher and the last thing he needs is more exercise in his physically demanding day.”
Janet said she prays silently when walking alone and both out loud and silently when she has a partner. And how does she handle distractions such as running into a friend or noticing her mind wandering. “When I started prayerwalking,” she said, “distractions drove me nuts. Then I realized they’re a reason for prayer!” So now she gives those concerns to the Lord and leaves the results to Him.
Janet does not keep a literal or mental prayer list anymore, although certainly it’s fine to do so. “I walk and trust that God will direct my sight to the needs in my community.
“Since I’ve been prayerwalking, I’ve begun to understand what it means to “pray without ceasing” as Paul teaches us to do (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NASB). Once you get the vision that you’re to pray for whatever you see, wherever you are, your day becomes a stream of prayer,” she added.
“Instead of rolling your eyes in the grocery checkout line when a toddler starts fussing, you pray for the young mother and her child. Instead of getting defensive when a coworker criticizes you, you ask God to show you how to pray for that person. It’s a whole new outlook on life when you realize that wherever you are, whether you’re prayerwalking or not, God has given you the privilege and the opportunity to intercede for someone else.”
Janet readily admits that the benefits she’s received and the results she’s seen “are just drops in a shower of answered prayers in my town. The incidence of drug use has dramatically lowered. Blight is disappearing. Marriages are healed and many have come to Christ with dramatic life changes. It’s those answers to prayer that keep me getting up and putting on my walking shoes.”
John 11:41 motivates Janet and can be a source of encouragement to you if you decide to take up prayerwalking. “Father, I thank you that you have heard me” (NIV). Pray expectantly. God cares and will hear and answer your prayers. Janet invites you to contact her through her website for more information or to share your experiences of prayerwalking.