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.
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.