Ask any Christian woman what her personal goals would be and she’s likely to answer, “Get more exercise, lose weight, and spend more quality time with God.” Author Janet Holm McHenry found that with the practice of prayerwalking that she could multi-task one activity into several results. An end product is her nonfiction book PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength and Discipline (WaterBrook), which became a best-selling book when it was released in 2001 and featured in Health magazine. It was recently re-released in a special 10th anniversary edition.
What was the inspiration or motivation behind the book?
I wrote PrayerWalk after my life had been dramatically changed by the practice of prayerwalking. I wanted to shout out that spending time with God praying for your community while you get some good exercise can make a difference in you and in those around you.
What were some of those changes?
Physically, I lost two dress sizes, and the aches and pains that had sent me regularly to pain relievers were gone. Emotionally, I found that the depression that had clouded most of my adult life had vanished. I no longer needed to hide away and cry -- the Lord was filling me up with spiritual endorphins instead! Spiritually, I also discovered that I was no longer hemmed in by irrational fears. I was free through the simple practice of prayerwalking.
And what is prayerwalking, exactly?
Prayerwalking is praying for whatever God puts within your eyesight as you walk through your community. I pray for those who live in the homes I pass. I pray for the business people in my little town. And I pray for schools and their educators by name. What I found is that disciplining my eyes to see needs in people has taught me that wherever I am, there’s a reason for prayer. I just need to look for it.
What do you hope PrayerWalk accomplishes?
We women have so little time to accomplish everything on our to-do lists for the day. PrayerWalk is a simple offering to suggest that you take time with God and pray as you also get exercise that will refresh you. The book is also a huge encouragement to show readers how their prayers can have effect in their communities.
Who is your greatest encourager when you write?
Many people have come alongside me over the years and encouraged me in my writing. My husband Craig has supported my travel to conferences and speaking events. The administrators at my high school, where I teach English full time, also have supported my writing over the years. However, I would have to say that the Lord is my biggest encourager; when I spend time with Him, he nudges me toward ideas and graces me with just the right words. I am blessed.
What else have you written?
Besides hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, I’ve written 18 other books--13 for children, including girls’ mysteries, and five other nonfiction books, four of those on prayer. My other nonfiction titles are Daily Prayerwalk, Prayer Changes Teens: How to Parent from Your Knees, Prayerstreaming, My Prayer Buddy Devotional: For a Sisterhood of Prayer Partners, and Girlfriend Gatherings: Creative Ways to Stay Connected.
Any tips for upcoming authors?
I was clueless when I started freelance writing, so I attended three weeklong writers’ conferences in the first year. I highly suggest that budding authors attend a writer’s conference, where they can connect with other writers who are excellent at teaching and marketing, agents, editors, and publishers. It’s a valuable investment, and upcoming authors should understand that writing is a business and that they will have to invest in their business to move ahead.
Janet Holm McHenry is a national speaker and author of 19 books. She is also a full-time high school English teacher and academic advisor at her very small high school in the Sierra Valley of California, where she and her husband Craig have lived for more than 30 years and where they have raised four children. More than anything she enjoys speaking at women’s retreats and prayer conferences -- and she can be reached through her website, www.janetmchenry.com, or through her blogs: http://janetmchenry.wordpress.com and http:SeniorYear101blog.wordpress.com.