The Frugal Catholic: “Prayer Walking” by Martha Wild King M.Ed.—July 2015

  When my husband and I married some 35 years ago, he was a runner, and in order to snag him when we began dating, I took up running myself.  Prior to that, my main exercise was ballet, tap, and jazz lessons.  Now I wanted to impress him and running seemed an easy way.  That behavior lasted for about a year, then 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 still remain coherent as a mother.  It was only when the oldest could babysit became older that I was able to walk by myself with a Rosary, and that is when I discovered (some fifteen years prior to converting to Catholicism) prayer walking.

Is Prayer Walking Scriptural?

Now prayer walking is as old as the human foot.  We see incidents of it throughout the Old and New Testaments.  For example, when Abraham was asked by God 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 obedience and Isaac was spared. (Genesis 22:1-14)  Again we see in The New Testament where two of Christ’s disciples, after His resurrection, were walking to Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were conversing with each other about all the things which had taken place when Jesus, Himself, approached and began traveling with them and explaining to them all the things concerning Himself in all the scriptures.  And, of course, they failed to recognize Jesus until He had taken 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 open our eyes to our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

What In General Is Prayer?rosary #3

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 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.  It is one with which a person, male or female, can grow old and continue to do daily.  Many other sports fall by the wayside with age due to their intensity and propensity for injury; but with walking, it is simply an ordinary anthropological movement which can turn into human exercise with little or no forethought.  Prayer Walking, on the other hand, involves that movement but with a help—a Rosary.  As I stated, I began Prayer Walking with my white plastic Rosary in the snows of Connecticut back in the 1990’s.  Since I knew nothing about how to properly pray the Rosary, I would simply put a prayer request on each decade of my 50 beads.  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, but somehow, I experienced answers either through revelations in Sacred Scripture, encouragement and advice from others, or being affirmed from hearing God’s word in church.  Answers came and you can find them too.

What Does It mean To Do Rosary Walking?rosary braclet #2

Now as a Catholic I have learned how to pray the Rosary, and so enjoy the times I can use it when I walk.  The best size of Rosary to use is the one decade kind which looks like a bracelet and often is.  You can finger it in one hand and either say The Rosary mystery for that particular day or use it as I did (if you aren’t Catholic) to pray for your private intentions or as I used to say, “A place to hide my prayers.”  Now though, I hold it in my right hand and run it though my fingers as I walk and pray.  This small bracelet-size-one-decade Rosary works better than the regular-five-decade-size Rosary because you can do it in one hand thus keeping both hands in the rhythmic swing of the walking.  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!

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.  This 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.   Also another easy way to remember the different kinds of prayer is in the word ACTS which could well be prayed by fingering four decades of the Rosary itself.

A = Adoration

C = Confession

T= Thanksgiving

S = Supplication

Ready to Give Prayer Walking a Try?

In conclusion, the next time you want to be efficient in your life, try prayer walking.  One of my goals before I “go home to heaven” is to walk the 25,000 miles it would take to walk around our big Catholic world.  So far I have accumulated since 2003 over 4762 miles.   Now either I am closer to God or healthier, but either way, both are leading me home.