I recently had the opportunity to chat with my friend, Janet McHenry, on an episode of Your Hope-Filled Perspective podcast (listen here ->Walk and Pray.) We talked about her practice of prayerwalking, what that looks like, and how that can enrich our prayer life as well. So many of my best prayerful conversations with God have been during my own walks around the neighborhood. With these 11 tips to begin prayerwalking, Janet shares with us about her journey with prayerwalking, and how you might incorporate prayerwalking into your own daily schedule.
Be sure to read all the way to the end for a Book Giveaway!
11 Tips to Begin PrayerWalking
By Janet Holm McHenry
I began walking the streets of my little town in the Sierra Valley in the fall of 1998, praying for my own little prayer needs as I walked. When I started, I was simply checking prayer off my daily to-do list while I got some good exercise. I sure needed it! Overweight, I was huffing and puffing as I went up and down stairs, and I needed painkillers to get to sleep at night.
A couple months down the road I saw a young man hand over his little blanketed bundle before six in the morning to the supervisor on her way into her daycare center. That little girl said, “Bye, Daddy. I love you.” And I knew right then God had me out on the streets of my community less for the my-ness of my prayers but more so for the needs in my community.
So, I started praying for whatever God put within my eyesight–all of the folks in homes and businesses, schools and school buses, county offices and commuters heading this way and that.
When a friend saw dramatic changes in my life as a result of my prayer walking, she suggested I write a book. And shortly after PrayerWalk was released in 2001, Health magazine did a nine-page feature on my prayerwalking (Sept. 2001). Soon groups began asking me to share about my prayerwalking experiences.
I love encouraging others to take up the practice, which has helped me to get physically stronger, shed the cloud of depression that hung over my life, banish fear from keeping me from living fully . . . but mostly be God’s servant in my community as I pray for the needs around me.
Prayerwalking is praying for your surroundings while you walk — for the folks in those homes you pass, for the businesses, and for passersby as well as other needs you sense as you traverse your town. It’s not checking names off a mental list but, instead, praying at God’s leading with open eyes and a caring heart.
If you’d like to start prayerwalking, here are a few tips:
- Make a date. Commit to a specific time on a daily or regular basis. Make this commitment a priority. Cut the unnecessary time-eaters out of your life, so that you can incorporate this new discipline.
- Get ready. Acquire a good pair of shoes. You also will want to plan ahead for weather concerns — umbrella for rain, snow walking boots for winter, layers for colder weather, sunscreen for the sun. You need not spend a lot of money on any of this.
- Leave the buds at home . . . unless you’re simply listening to instrumental music. It’s also not really safe to have earbuds on while you walk.
- Make sure your route is a safe one. Take your cell phone, and tell someone where you will be walking. However, stay off your phone–it’s a distraction from prayer.
- Find a partner. We’re more likely to follow through with any exercise discipline if we know that person is going to be knocking on our door. However . . .
- Focus on prayer, rather than conversation.
- Open your eyes. Look for the needs in your community. Are neighbors arguing? Pray for their marriage. Is blight a problem? Pray for hearts turned toward God.
- Don’t stop and raise your hands or make a dramatic scene. Just keep walking and praying, rather than bringing attention to yourself.
- Become responsive. Bogged down by distractions and mental lists? Pray for those concerns and then release them. In this manner you will begin to be more focused.
- Read the Bible. The more you allow God to speak to you through his Word, the more you will be praying in his will.
- Keep it going! Through prayerwalking you will learn that wherever you are — whether you are prayerwalking or not — there’s a reason for prayer. God has you right where you are this very minute to notice the needs around you so as to entrust those needs to him. In this way you can partner with the Problem Solver to make a difference in the lives around you.
Do you prayer walk? We’d love to hear any tips or insights you have about it in the comments below.
About Janet McHenry
Janet McHenry is a national speaker and the author of 24 books—six on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus: What He Prayed and How It Will Change Your Life Today. A former high school English teacher, she and her rancher husband, Craig, raised four children in the Sierra Valley, where she still prayerwalks and serves as the Sierra County coordinator for the National Day of Prayer. Janet leads the prayer ministries at The Bridge Church in Reno and is the creator of Prayer School, an online course on prayer through Teachable. She loves to connect with readers at her website: janetmchenry.com.
Connect with Janet: Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Pinterest
In conjunction with this post and the podcast interview Walk and Pray: It Will Change Your Life – Episode 141, Janet McHenry is giving away a free copy of her new book, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus: What He Prayed and How It Will Change Your Life Today.
Leave a comment below sharing with us one way you can initiate more prayerful conversations with God in the new year and you will be entered into the contest for your chance to win a copy of her book.
You could also share this blog post on Facebook or Twitter then comment here to tell us where you shared it and you’ll also be entered into the drawing.
The winner will be selected at random and announced next Monday, January 3, 2022. Continental United States only.
I like the idea of starting this habit. It’s something for me to think about doing during my planning period or immediately after school, if I can tear myself away from my desk/classroom. (I’m a teacher.)
What an encouraging post. My first next best step will be to begin walking again and ask God to reignite my desire to make my prayers more fervent drawing me closer to Him so I may then be a better conduit of prayer for others
Hi, Donna! When I started, I just did about 15 minutes, then gradually built up to longer times. Make sure you stretch out well afterwards. You can do it!
This article is on target as I’ve been walking in my new neighborhood and finding people to interact with who have issues I could never help with except to pray. I need to see with new eyes the needs of other. Such a practical way to have a ministry while at the same time becoming healthy and in touch with God’s presence. Thank you for giving me a way to have a ministry in the lives of others.
Hi! Yes, it’s a three-fer. You get good exericse, you have prayer time, and you minister to your community. Just pray for what you see. God will lead you! Blessings!
Such a great way to have a ministry and keep my activity level high. I do walk in my new neighborhood. There’s a delightful park with pond and ducks bringing joy to me. I do see others on my walk who I know might need prayer or encouragement. It’s good to know that God’s presence can give me a prompt to either stop and converse or continue on with prayers for their lives to be directed to Him.
Hi, Kathleen! Yes, sometimes I’ll stop to say hi to a neighbor or someone I’ll meet along the way. I let God lead me in the direction he would have me go.
What an informative article! This is motivation for me to get back in the habit of walking. Winter’s are hard for me and to be praying for others plus the exercise is good for my soul and physical body. Thank You for the opportunity to win a copy of the book!
We’ve got about three feet of snow where I live right now. I figure if I can walk in this kind of crazy weather, I can walk in any weather.
I miss walking in the early morning. There were physical constraints but I realize I am now freed up to do again.
I love the early morning fog, the dew on the grass, birds greeting the day, blossoms opening up. The images I see trigger prayers of thanksgiving and faith in His promises brighten the gloomiest of days. The scenes played out before me spark hope as life bursts forth. The activity of the world awakening reminds me of both His creativity and the diversity within it. Steadfast truths of scripture tap at my heart as I take it all in. Being outdoors lets me know that I’m alive and part of a bigger story…His story.
Hi, Danine! Yes, prayerwalking truly makes you more aware of God’s beautiful creation and inspires praise as part of our prayer time.
This a great concept to introduce to my church congregation! I’m the prayer team leader and am always looking for new ways for us to be praying for the community!
Deborah, I lead the prayer ministries at my church too. We do an annual Prayerwalk for the Schools in Reno before school starts each year, prayerwalking around the schools in the vicinity of our church, including the two colleges. Just one idea . . .
I need to do less talking and more listening when I pray, so steps 7, 9 and 11 seem key. Release own concerns. Open eyes to needs of others. Understand that God put me exactly where I am for a reason. “Partner with the Problem Solver” is perfect! Too often, I feel like I should be the problem solve but that is God’s job.
Hi, Valerie! It’s easy to get distracted with our own mental to-do lists and concerns. If we learn to pray them away, we can stay more focused in our prayer lives. Blessings!
Just shared on Facebook feed. Planning lunchtime walks at least three days a week to start.
I used to walk and pray in the mornings. The article reminded me that I need to return to the habit of daily prayer. Great tips and thank you for the opportunity to win.
Hi, Julie! Blessings in your walk!
I do love this thought and all the great tips on prayer walking. I pray anywhere I am but I am n to walk like I used to do but I can still walk my yard and my neighborhood. Thank you, Janet McHenry and Dr. Michelle for your insights not only in this article but also in the podcast. I shared this message on FB and will also share about prayer walking with others.
Karen, I love that you have prayerful eyes–to see that wherever you are, there’s a need for prayer.
I am a devoted prayer-walker. That’s why I was drawn to this blog post. I have found in the past two years, I’ve had to lengthen my walks because it is clear there are a lot more prayer concerns/needs. One of my favorite additions to my prayer walks is taking my beagle along with me. Sometimes she can be distracting, but for the most part I’m able to focus on who/what I’m praying about.
Bless you for taking your beagle. I found that when we had a dog, she slowed me down, so I stopped that routine. She was a cow dog anyway–not too interested in going for walks. Walk on!
Bev, you are the winner of Janet’s book! Be on the lookout for an email asking you for your information. 🙂
Hi, I’m visiting you from Instaencouragement link party today and I love your testimony on prayer walking, what a beautiful experience, thank you for sharing.
Thank you, Betty. Very kind.
Hi, my friend and I walk every morning, schedules and weather permitting, we pray for the needs of others who we know need prayers. Praying for our neighborhood is a great idea. Thank you for sharing.