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October 2006 Your faith

Walk and pray. Boost your prayer life and your fitness

Take a prayer power walk

Give your prayer life a boost by combining it with a brisk walk, suggest Grace Fox

That does it! I thought. Time for a better plan!
We'd recently moved to a new location to join a year-round camping ministry. The change in schedule and lifestyle had turned my well-established spiritual growth routine topsy-turvy. For several weeks I'd tried praying in the quietness of my home after the children had left for school. With no-one around, I thought that it would be an easy feat. I was wrong!
My brain shifted into overdrive. Confusion and clutter cut into my quiet time with God. Dinner menu ideas danced through my thoughts as I tried to pray for my children's well-being. Scenes from an action video replayed themselves while I requested wisdom for our ministry and church leaders. Thoughts of taking the cat to the vet interrupted my pleas on behalf of our government leaders. Sitting still for my personal prayer time was like declaring, "OK, busy thoughts! Here I am - ready, aim, fire!"
About this time, I recognised my need to establish an exercise routine. Why not begin the day with a brisk walk? I thought. I can combine my prayer time with it and pray aloud as I walk. Doing so might keep my thoughts focused. Throwing back my afghan, I climbed from my rocking chair, slipped on my trainers, and initiated my physical and spiritual fitness programme.
At first I sang and prayed and puffed my way around the block. I carried recipe cards with Scripture verses written on them to remind me of God's promises. As my body adjusted to the exercise, I added another mile to my route. Later, a third. Soon the timed was filled up with prayer.
Combining a brisk walk with praise and intercession has re-vitalised my prayer life. Speaking and singing aloud keeps my thoughts focused, but I've also discovered the delights of simply being quiet before God without fighting mental distractions. I ask what he wants to tell me today, and then walk in silence while waiting for the answer.
Sometimes he responds, "I have a surprise for you!" and he shows me his handiwork - delicate bluebells, juicy blackberries, the neighbour's calf curled up beside its mother, or a red-winged woodpecker.
Often, he impresses on me the need to pray for someone in particular. For instance, months ago I became burdened to pray daily for pregnant young women who have made appointments in abortion clinics. As I walk, I ask God to fill their hearts with awe at the wonder of new life within them. I ask him to give them courage to cancel their appointment, and for godly people and counsellors to embrace them. I pray for their precious unborn babies to be spared.
Several days ago, I read an article about a teenage girl who changed her mind while waiting for her appointment at an abortion clinic. Later, she accepted Christ as her Saviour. Her baby was placed in a loving Christian home. I felt like shouting, "Yes!"
On another occasion the Holy Spirit replied, "Pray for frightened women, abused and despised simply for being born female." I began asking God to protect these precious women. I pray that Jesus will somehow reveal himself to them as the way, the truth and the life. I ask for the salvation of the leaders in those cultures and for changes in the way women are treated.
Recently I read an article about a group of women fighting for change in those lands. My resolve deepened to pray without ceasing.
My 'power walks' are a daily highlight. Well, almost daily. Physically, my body benefits from the regular exercise. But it's the unleashed spiritual power which excites me! Even as I walk along the road in my little corner of the world, my prayers impact the lives of faceless women, thousands of miles away. As I meditate on Scripture, I draw strength and receive encouragement in my role as a wife, mother, missionary and writer.
If your prayer life needs a little boost, consider walking during your prayer times and see the difference.
Seven reasons to walk and pray (set as panel)
* It's cheap! No membership fees. No expensive equipment to collect dust after being used only a few times.
* It's flexible. Try to establish a route, but don't panic if something unexpected happens. Walk earlier or later than your normal time.
* It's healthy - in more ways than one. Spiritual muscles are strengthened while physical muscles get a work-out.
* It's invigorating. Walking early in the mornings revitalises the brain! I find I'm more alert all day and sleep better at night.
* It's calming. A brisk walk does wonders to release stress. Pouring out one's heart to God in the process is even more effective.
* It's intimate. It's you and God. What could be better?
* It's effectual. You're establishing disciplined habits physically and spiritually, and accomplishing great things through prayer.

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