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.
My Prayerwalking Journey
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.
A couple of months down the road, when I saw a young man hand over his little blanketed bundle before 6 o’clock in the morning, I knew 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 prayerwalking, 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 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.
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 — an umbrella for rain, snow walking boots for winter, layers for colder weather, and 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.
May God bless you as you pray for your community!
P.S. Check out The Walking Club group on Facebook . . . and find encouragement there as you daily walk and pray.
If I can stop one Heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one Life the Aching,
Or cool one Pain,
Or help one fainting Robin
Unto his Nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
Janet McHenry is considered the foremost expert on devotional prayerwalking. A national speaker, she is the author of 24 books–six of those on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. Connect with her to speak at your in-person or online event by clicking the button below.