Walking – as everyone seems to have recently discovered – is therapeutic. It gets you out of your house (even quarantine rules allow it!) and gets you moving. Your heart beats stronger, your blood flows oxygen to your brain, and your lungs and skin absorb fresh air and sunshine, an automatic elixir for whatever ails you.
Walking can also be sociable. Head out the door with your teenagers, and you might find them revealing some thoughts they would never share if you were eye-to-eye. Take a stroll with your spouse and you’re guaranteed uninterrupted time to talk and bond. Speed walk with your friend and grab some exercise while you catch up on the week’s events. Walking works, on a number of levels.
One you may not have considered is using this time to get close to God. What if you committed to a daily walk, as short or as long as you have time for that day, and spent that time praying? What if you turned an activity usually viewed as purely physical and transformed it into a spiritual experience?
It might look something like this:
You tie on your sneakers and start down your street. The first thing you notice is your speed, slow and steady. With so much of life whizzing by outside the car window or happening outside the office while we are glued to our computers, it feels good to slow down, to actually notice our surroundings. In doing so, your eyes climb the trunk of a tree up to its branches. You notice the stark contrast between the green of the leaves and the blue of the sky. A hawk soars overhead. You breathe. Really breathe. Instantly, your mind is calmer, and you find yourself thanking God for the nature surrounding you. That blue-blue sky, and the chirp of two squirrels chasing each other around a tree. Just like that, you feel gratitude for the life around you, for the beauty surrounding you.
Walking does that. It makes you keenly aware of God’s creation, the miracles that unfold in nature. Views you never bother to take in while in a car suddenly become immersive. Sounds, smells, and the friendly wave of a neighbor all remind you that God is everywhere if you just take the time to notice.
Walking gives you a chance to think and inspires creativity. All of the potential ideas just waiting to be discovered are crowded out in a busy day. The same goes for God. We have plenty of excuses to not talk to Him right now. But when we are walking, we have none. This is our time to let the good things that are happening within our body transfer to good thoughts we can share with God. Uninterrupted, you can pray for each member of your family. Take your time. Really think about each person and their needs. Thank God for the better relationship you have with your difficult child or distant parent. Ask God to help you deal with a delicate situation at work. Tell God you trust him to lead you in the direction you’re meant to go.
Think about your friends, those who are close who have shared worries and concerns with you, as well as those on social media you shared a praying emoji with but never actually got around to praying for. Now is the time. Each time your foot hits the pavement, pressure waves send more blood to your brain. This stimulates thoughts and helps you make connections. Oh yes, you think, I promised I would pray for Bonnie’s brother, and then you do, right there and then.
Doing something good for your body is therapeutic in and of itself. But adding prayer to your walking time creates its own form of spiritual therapy. You are reminded to take time with God, to think of others, to admire his creation all around you, to show gratitude, and to work through problems and worries before they fester.
Combining the spiritual and physical disciplines of a prayer walk promises you a special time each day that is just between you and God. Your life will be much richer for it.