I rarely wake up, leap out of bed, throw back the shades with a “yay, morning.” Instead, I usually turn over, stretch out my hand and feel for a mug of tea, which I hope my husband has made for me. The caffeine gives me the kick I need to get out of my cocoon. Some mornings, I must admit, I do grumble — I’m not a morning person — yet there is one activity that changes my attitude and demeanor—a walk and talk with God.

For years my regular pattern each day, when my schedule allowed, was to put on my fitness gear the moment I got out of bed, get outside, and spend 30 minutes walking and praying.

When I came back in the door, my husband said I was a different person. He meant I was much more pleasant to be around. And I could feel the change, too. It made a difference to how I approached the rest of my day. I felt refreshed, more relaxed, and ready to tackle anything.

Health experts tell us physical exercise helps relieve stress. It releases endorphins, which stimulate relaxation. The good thing is though, we don’t have to go crazy — like run a marathon or climb a mountain. Instead, simply walking, and not even too briskly, can help. And walking is accessible to just about all of us.

One study I read found doing mind exercises or meditating while walking produced even more dramatic results to reduce stress. We can include prayer in this category.  However, I believe prayer is more effective than a mind exercise. Prayer is communing with God who cares about our stress levels and who promises that when we bring our anxiety to him we will find peace.  Releasing our problems to God while we walk benefits our mind, body and soul. Physical exercise with prayer is stress-busting.

So, how do you put this into practice?

Find a place to walk and pray — a place you will enjoy going to. Make sure it is distraction free and where you will not be disturbed.

Choose a time of day that suits your schedule. It may be early in the morning, in the evening, or even during your lunchtime as you take a break from work.

Find a “cue” that will encourage you to exercise and pray. For me, it’s putting on my fitness gear. Or leaving my sneakers out. Sometimes, I don’t feel like exercising or don’t think I have the time. However, when I remember I’m turning down time with my heavenly Father, and that’s he waiting for me to come to him, then this encourages me to get going.

Most of all, persevere. Walking and talking to God may be hard to practice, but practice hard and you will be satisfied.

Choose a routine. Dream big but set realistic goals. If you set a goal that is too high and you fail to achieve it, you might be less likely to try again the next time. Don’t give up. Alter your goal. Make it fit your lifestyle. Set yourself up for success.

The Prayer Zone Workout book gives you a structure you can use for prayer and walking.

Journal about your experience. Write down the reward you gain from your activity. By the way, journaling has been found to help with stress too. Journaling will help you to remember how good you felt and encourage you for next time.

You will be rewarded for your efforts. My reward is usually feeling calmer. Sometimes though, I receive clarity to a problem or a sense of peace because I’ve taken the opportunity to ask for and receive forgiveness from God.

Tingling in the thighs when you’ve exercised? Then you know your body has benefited too. However, if you are unsure whether you should do physical activity, please consult your doctor first.

This week find time for a walk and talk with God.

  • I can always tell when I’ve gone a day or two without my walk. That time alone (with the dog) is so energizing: no matter what the weather is like, the beauty of God’s creation is on display, and He is listening. So . . . I’m working on being a better listener during that time.

  • I used to exercise all the time back in the day, but I think just a walk and not even with weight loss in mind is much healthiier. I read a post on a lady’s blog who was worried about her stomach ( which was fine ) and ran like crazy, even though she was like 5’7, 130. It was all her misconeception, the way she perceived herself, as most of us do. And how about a suggestion of a secret place, I see it all the time in old movies. The roof?

  • This is so true for me! There is a night and day difference in my attitude between when I get my Bible/prayer time and (secondarily) a good workout – and when I DON’T! The long-term benefits are good, of course, but the immediate result is pretty great too!

  • I don’t like exercise but do like to pray. It’s a motivation for me to get out in nature with God’s energy and blessings and get moving. I have lost 10 pounds from praying, walking and meditation. I discovered that losing some weight was a side effect of doing all three of these activities. Your book is still an inspiration to me!

    • Well done losing 10lbs, Debbie, but I like how you say it’s a side effect and recognizing the other three things are more important. Miss you, friend.

  • I loved this Rachel as I very often talk with God as I walk too. I love the connection of how He speaks to my spirit and I’m led to find the next path on the race He has for me. Always a pleasure to read your words-happy to share!

    • Jill, I love how you connect walking with finding the next path God has for you – in the race, but we don’t have to worry about our speed. Thankfully! I am not a runner.

  • I always love your posts, Rachel! This was very timely for me as I’ve been putting off starting a daily exercise routine of running/walking outside. I love your tips here to add in prayer. Thank you so much for the encouragement!

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