Stress with Prayer Walks
Sharon C. McGonigal
I had not intentionally started to walk as
a means of managing stress; it just grew into
that. About two years ago I took up daily walking
because my physiotherapist had recommended it
to help facilitate recovery from a neck injury.
He also said that everyone should ideally get
up and move around every fifteen minutes or
so during the workday, since many of us work
sitting in front of computers.
Initially, I was committed to walking to minimize
my headaches and heal faster. I purchased a
pedometer and even wore it at work (I'm a teacher).
Students asked me what it was and I explained
my therapy. Co-workers asked how I lost my weight.
What started as power walking evolved into
prayer walking - now I call it the 'power of
As I started praying while walking, I found
it had a soothing effect, releasing stress and
anxiety. Each week, I increased my distance.
At times I didn't want to walk because of cold
weather, but I pushed myself to go anyways (dressing
appropriately, of course). On one bitterly cold
day, I was cold when I started but warmed up
as the walk progressed. When I returned home
all my extremities were warm and my headache
was gone. Now, I walk in any kind of weather
- I actually embrace the challenge.
Two months into my program, I decided to take
the children walking. I thought if I could take
one child at a time, we could visit and bond.
Before long, the children became bored with
this. My next strategy was to entice them with
a treat. After walking with me four out of five
days, one of my twins said, "Mom, the milkshakes
are nice, but I just can't walk any more."
That ended the walks with my children for a
Recently, however, my three youngest boys and
I took up a flyer route - now we earn money
as we walk. At times while walking they tell
me a favourite place they want to deliver to,
because of the flowerbeds or the dog that lives
there; at Christmas time, they have favourite
homes because of the decorations.
As I walk, I pray, and the time and stress
just falls off of my shoulders, leaving me lighter
in more ways than one when I return home. Thus
far, I have lost forty pounds, increased my
resistance to sickness, and feel much more energetic.
Over time, my children have begun to appreciate
the benefits of walking too. Now when they feel
stressed or upset, they ask to go for a walk.
My oldest son, almost twenty, told me he also
prays while he walks.
I know the power of prayer is working when
we go for a walk and the children stop to look
at something as small as a colored rock and
look at it in wonder. Sometimes, with my daughter,
I feel such joy in just hearing the sound of
her footsteps. The most exciting part now is
that my children invite me to join them for
a walk. Even though we are walking and talking
about other things, I know we have created a
bond of love and friendship. This is the power
of prayer walking.
So if you are looking for an easy way to reduce
stress, lose weight, build your energy, and
strengthen bonds with your family members, I
encourage you to discover the power of prayer
Sharon lives in Stony Plain,
Alberta, Canada and works as a freelance writer,
teacher, storyteller, driver training instructor,
editor and parent of five children. She is also
the creator of: Write off the Wall - a series
of writing workshops for ages five to adult.
Her most recent contribution, 'Patience By Example',
is included in the book Our Fathers Who Art
In Heaven and What They Continue to Teach Us;
a series founded by Gerry Murak. You can reach
Sharon at: firstname.lastname@example.org