Years ago, I was a mess physically. I had gained a bunch of weight. I was huffing and puffing as I went upstairs. And I needed painkillers to go to sleep at night. The worst moment was when I walked down our back door and found myself in a crumpled heap because my knee had given way. I knew I needed to do something about my health, but I also knew that for some time, God had been calling me to spend more time with him. I decided I would get up a little bit earlier the next morning and walk. And while I walked, I would pray.
The next morning when the alarm went off, The List began whispering to me.
You are too tired.
You need your rest.
It’s dark out there!
Nonetheless, I got up, threw sweats OVER my pajamas, and headed out the door. I walked about twenty minutes that day, taking care of prayer needs along the way. Gradually, I increased my walking to an hour or more, as much as three to five miles each day. However, my prayer routine changed dramatically one day.
A young man in a pickup truck pulled in front of the daycare center in our little town in the Sierras on that pre-dawn, wintry morning. He skipped around to the other side and picked up his blanketed bundle. As he handed his little girl to the daycare worker on the sidewalk, she said, “Bye, Daddy. Love you.”
I knew right then that God had me out on the streets of my town, not so much for the my-ness of my prayers, but to look around and pray for the needs in my community.
My walking-and-praying became prayer walking that day. I began praying for whatever God put within my eyesight because I understood that wherever I am, there’s a need for prayer.
Three kinds of dramatic changes occurred in my life because of my prayer walking routine. Physically, I lost two dress sizes as well as the aches and pains. Emotionally, the cloud of depression that had clouded most of my adult life lifted. I realized that one morning, when my son walked into the kitchen one school morning and said, “What are you doing, Mom?” I looked down and looked at him. “Making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?” He said, “No, Mom. You were singing.” He’d never heard his mom sing at seven in the morning before we all went to school. There were spiritual changes as well because I stopped allowing fear to control my life.
Prayer brings about personal strength in our lives. To develop that strength, though, we need to exercise it—to develop a praying-without-ceasing mindset. Jennifer Kennedy Dean would say this is the difference between a prayer life and a praying life. I’ll choose the latter because I truly need God’s strength with me every moment.
Janet McHenry is an inspirational speaker and the author of 24 books, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. She is also a First Place for Health leader in her church in Reno, the hostess for the Nevada Wellness Workshop September 7, and the author of two First Place Bible studies, Training for Success and the newly released Stronger Every Day. She would love to speak at your next event and can be contacted at www.janetmchenry.com