As part of my morning devotions, I recently read two books on prayer. One was an old book that I have read and used to lead prayer groups many times. “What Happens When Women Pray” by Evelyn Christenson. The other was a new to me book, “Prayerwalk” by Janet Holm McHenry. Both are valuable resources with complementary views on prayer.
“What Happens When Women Pray” was first published in 1975 but it is a classic from which anyone can learn. Evelyn suggests our intercessory prayers are most effective when we pray out loud in small groups an in agreement with one another. Anyone can learn to pray out loud by stating needs simply and then discerning God’s will together. Re-reading this book made me miss being part of a prayer group.
“Prayerwalk” by Janet Holm McHenry isn’t as old as the other book, but it was published in 2001. I bought it when it first came out, but never got around to reading it. I walk so much now that I thought it was time I explored the book.
Janet wrote “Prayerwalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline” after beginning and refining the process. She started walking and praying because she wanted to be more disciplined about both. She calls Jesus her “trainer.” Basically the idea is to pray for the things that you pass while you walk, as well as praying for your usual list. Unlike Evelyn Christenson, Janet describes aspects of prayer in addition to intercession.
Combining walking and praying allowed Janet to get fit physically while being disciplined spiritually. I appreciated the combination of the two. “Prayerwalk” does a good job of encouraging both. Once I got through the first few chapters, however, I lost interest. Janet continues to tell her own story. The book isn’t prescriptive – telling you how to do it – but it is full of examples telling what she did. Janet encourages everyone to do what works for them.
Both books reminded me that I need to be disciplined about prayer. I contacted some friends letting them know I would pray for them and asking them to pray for me. (Ministers are notoriously bad at asking for prayer.) And I gave prayerwalking a try while we were on our cruise. Back on land, however, I have abandoned prayerwalking in favor of my prayer closet. There are just too many distractions when I am walking. Oh, look, a squirrel! Hey, isn’t that a cool RV? I have the attention span of a flea when I am walking. Quiet time to concentrate on prayer is easier now that I am retired. It is the reason I get up at least an hour before Tom every morning.
If you haven’t read either of these books, I recommend them. They are both good books that will spur you discipline in your prayer life. Neither is written from a theological perspective. Instead, they both encourage you to develop a life wherein you can “pray without ceasing.”
Have you read either book? What did you think?