By Kimberley Payne
I’ve enjoyed walking since my youth and continue to enjoy it today as my number one cardiovascular activity. I find walking to be the most flexible and relaxing exercise. No special equipment or skills are needed – just a good pair of shoes and sensible clothing. It can be done anywhere and anytime with a friend or by myself. Walking offers less risk of injury, with many of the benefits of more strenuous activities.
There can also be both spiritual and physical benefits by combining prayer with walking.
What walking accomplishes in building a strong body, prayer achieves in building spiritual strength. Your body requires exercise and food, and it needs these things regularly. Once a week will not suffice. Your spiritual needs are similar to your physical needs, and so praying once a week is as effective as eating once a week. The Bible tells us to pray continually in order to have a healthy, growing spiritual life.
Prayer walking is just what it sounds like – simply walking and talking to God. Prayer walking can take a range of approaches from friends or family praying as they walk around neighbourhoods, schools, work places, and churches, to structured prayer campaigns for particular streets and homes. I once participated in a prayer walk in Ottawa where, as a group, we marched to Parliament Hill and prayed for our governments, provinces, and country.
In the Bible, there are many references to walking while thinking and meditating on the things of God. Genesis 13:17 says, “Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” The prophet Micah declared, “All the nations may walk in the name of their gods, we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.” (Micah 4:5) And in Joshua 14:9 it says, “So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.'”
I especially enjoy prayer walking with my twelve-year old daughter. She’ll begin with something like, “Dear God, I pray that you will help my friend whose parents are divorcing.”
My turn. “Lord, thank you for the beauty of your world. I pray that we can continue to enjoy the natural world outdoors through a healthy body.” Or I might say something like, “I thank you Lord, for the opportunity to walk with this precious gift you have bestowed on me, my daughter”
Then my daughter will sometimes get stumped and ask, “Mom, I don’t know what to pray for next.”
I explain to her that we can focus our prayers on our neighbourhood and the people who live in the homes that we pass by. We can’t always know what lies behind closed doors. Praying for spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, and social blessings is a good place to start.
I also remind her of the easy reference guide that I use called P.A.T.H to prayer. The acronym stands for Praise, Admit, Thank and Help.
Praise – Start with recognizing God and His greatness. Give Him praise and honour. This takes the focus off why you are praying and puts it on the One who can answer.
Admit – Admit you did wrong. Be repentant and confess your sins. Don’t try to hide your sins or failures, but don’t dwell on them either. Be honest, God knows. Ask for God’s forgiveness, strength and help.
Thank – Give thanks to the Lord. Verbalize what you are grateful for. Make it a personal expression of your heart.
Help – Bring all your requests – spiritual, emotional and material – to God in prayer. Rely on the fact that God has a faithful and generous nature, always seeking your best. God wants to give you the desires of your heart according to His plan.
When starting a prayer walking program, try to establish a routine or it may quickly fade away. Make it something that you do habitually.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to stop and bow for each prayer. Continue walking and let the Spirit lead you in what to pray about.
Walking with ankle weights can increase risk of injury to your hips, knees, ankles and feet. Wrist weights can cause shoulder and elbow injuries. This will add stress to the body.
Ensure that you dress in layers…you never know what the weather will bring. Wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Use comfortable footwear that provides good cushioning and support.
Always be well-hydrated. Carry a bottle of water with you, even in winter time.
My daughter continues to enjoy our prayer walks together. Why not put on your walking shoes and head out the front door?
“Pray continually.”1 Thessalonians 5:17
Blessings on the road to health!
|Kimberley Payne, a former Personal
Trainer who lives in Ontario, combines Christian commitment with ten years
experience in the health and wellness arena. Visit her Website
www.kimberleypayne.com or her