Before my husband and I married some 35 years ago, he was a runner, and I a dancer. I took up running myself and entered several races to really snag him. It seemed like the best way to make a committed impression. That athletic behavior lasted only a year because we married, and I became pregnant with our first child. I tried to jog after the babies came, but walking seemed a better choice because I could push a stroller, communicate with my offspring, and remain coherent as a mother. Only when the oldest took babysitting lessons at age 12 could I walk by myself with a Rosary in the Connecticut snowdrifts. That's when I discovered (some fifteen years before converting to Catholicism) Prayer Walking.
Is Prayer Walking Scriptural?
Now prayer walking is as old as the human foot. We see examples of it throughout the Old and New Testaments. When God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac in the land of Moriah, Abraham had to walk three days to get there. With such a request by His Heavenly Father, Abraham, in his submission, surely wasn’t thinking about the latest sports scores. And as we see from scripture, Abraham’s trust resulted in an A+ for his obedience, and Isaac was spared. (Genesis 22:1-14) Again, we see prayer walking in The New Testament when two of Christ’s disciples, after His resurrection, were walking to Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. These two were conversing about everything which had happened. Suddenly, Christ approached and began traveling with them, explaining everything concerning Himself in the scriptures. Of course, the two disciples failed to recognize Our Lord until He took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and began giving it to them. Walking with Christ and prayer opened their eyes. (Luke 24:13-31) Indeed, Prayer Walking can likewise bring us closer to our Lord.
What In General Is Prayer?
Prayer is a learned behavior of spiritual communication with God. It is learned in the same way that a child learns his or her birth language, one word at a time. It comes from an inherent trust that Someone is in charge and wants to know us better. That Someone has our best interests at heart and desires to be closer to each of His children. Prayer is also a two-way street. In a great brochure by Our Sunday Visitor ( www.osv.com ) called “How to Pray as a Catholic,” it states: “Prayer is a conversation with God. Like any conversation, it goes both ways. We talk to God, and He talks to us. God loves us more than we can imagine. He wants us to get to know and love Him as a Father. Like any loving parent, He wants to spend time talking with His children.”
What Are The Different Kinds of Prayers?
Saint Thomas Aquinas stated, “The Lord’s Prayer is the most perfect of prayers… In it, we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire but also in the sequence that they should be desired," meaning that The Lord's Prayer not only teaches us to ask for things but also in what order we should desire them. And, of course, you say the Lord’s Prayer five times within a Rosary recitation. I know of one Catholic lady who prefers to pray only the Lord's Prayer on her Rosary beads when she walks at the gym.
Another easy way to remember the different kinds of prayer is in the word ACTS, which could be prayed by fingering four decades of the Rosary itself.
A = Adoration
C = Confession
S = Supplication
What Then Is Prayer Walking?
Prayer walking is simply a new way of seeing exercise. Personally, I feel like walking is one of the best exercises out there for health and fitness. One can grow old and continue to exercise and pray simultaneously. Many other sports fall by the wayside with age due to their intensity and propensity for injury. Still, walking is simply an ordinary anthropological movement that can turn into human exercise with little or no forethought.
So Prayer Walking is walking while praying.
As I stated above, I began Prayer Walking with my white plastic Rosary in Connecticut's snows back in the 1990s. Since I knew nothing about properly praying the Rosary, I would put a prayer request on each decade of my 50 beads. The first decade was for my husband, and the subsequent four were for each of my four children. I would touch those beads, and my words would flow out as to my concerns. I really didn’t take time to listen to God respond, and I never heard a booming voice with answers. Still, somehow, I experienced answers through revelations in Sacred Scripture, encouragement, and advice from others, or hearing God’s word in church. Answers came, and you can find them too.
What Does It mean To Do Rosary Prayer Walking?
Rosary Prayer Walking is the best of all worlds. As a Catholic, I have learned to pray the Rosary and enjoy praying it when I walk. The best set of Rosary beads for Rosary Prayer Walking is the one-decade kind that looks like the bracelet above. I hold it in my left hand and run it through my fingers as I walk and pray the mystery for that day, thus keeping both hands in the rhythmic swing. Or if you aren't Catholic, finger it using the ten beads to tell God about your five most pressing prayers or one prayer for each decade. As a Protestant, I didn't know how to pray the Rosary; I just knew it was a wonderful place to hide my prayers.
And the bottom line is that before you know it, you have accomplished your daily prayers and your daily exercise at the same time, and in The Frugal Catholic’s mind, that is called efficiency!
Ready to Give Prayer Walking a Try?
So to sum it up, the next time you want to do two things at once, try Prayer Walking. Before I “go home to heaven,” one of my goals is to walk the 25,000 miles it would take to walk around our big Catholic world. So far, I have accumulated over 4762 miles since 2003. Now either I am closer to God or healthier, but either way, both are leading me home.
Martha Wild King, M.Ed., Author
The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more.