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Walking Prayer

Wow. I can’t believe that it has been ten years since I first blogged about walking prayer. For a lot of us, walking prayer seems like a good idea.

Maybe, like me, you have troubles sitting and focusing. When you try to do that, you end up battling your monkey mind. Get back here and concentrate! And really, that’s okay if that’s what you want to do. Don’t chastise yourself when your mind wanders, Just gently direct your attention back to . . . your breathing. The prayer you are reciting.

But I do much better when I can move and pray simultaneously. As bad as I am at sitting still, you might think I am athletic. You’d be wrong. I’m just not good at being idle. Movement helps me focus.

If you Google walking prayer, you are going to find information on walking a set path. Some people walk the Stations of the Cross. Others walk a labyrinth. I prefer to walk my neighborhood although I will sometimes drive to a local labyrinth.

When I start my walk, I focus on my breathing.  I try to breathe in for a count of 5 and out for a count of 5. This focus on something as simple as breathing, when paired with walking, slows my mind and stills those monkey thoughts.

Sometimes I have a prayer concern, When this is the case, I gently consider the situation. This isn’t tight focus. I’m leaving myself open to hear God. If I don’t have a prayer concern, I pray about whatever crosses my mind. When I pass a school, I pray for students and staff. I pray for a neighbor whose son I haven’t seen in a while. I pray for that nice couple whose car had to be towed when it wouldn’t start.

It has been cold and icy here lately. That means that walking prayer is a hazardous undertaking. Yes, I can walk on my treadmill but it is not quiet and thus is not conducive to prayer. But I can use my phone to listen to meditative music on Youtube. Or I can choose nature sounds. With these in the background I can sometimes focus.

Other times I light a candle and watch the flame. Admittedly, I take my glasses off to soften the focus.

I get out my prayer beads. As each bead passes through my fingers, I say a prayer for someone.

What do you do when you have troubles focusing? Maybe what works for you will help someone else as well.


Early in my prayer journey, a friend gave me a set of prayer beads. Hers were on an elastic band and she wears them like a bracelet.

I took a set of pale green beads but for a while I didn’t use them. Frankly, I wasn’t entirely sure how to use them. Its not like I grew up praying with a rosary or anything else in hand. I was going to have to wing it.

The first thing that I did was re-string the beads. I now have a longer set of green, onyx and brass that I can wear as a necklace or looped around my wrist. When I sit down to pray, just how I use these beads varies from one time to another.

Today, I needed a break from the worries running around in my head. I needed to focus on all that is Right and Good. I had to turn my gaze to God. At each green bead, I repeated the phrase “Holy God, You are the Creator of All.” Then for the black beads, I ran through bits and pieces of His Creation, naming one thing per bead.

For one set of beads I focused on large and mighty things – mountains, oceans, rivers, etc.

For another I focused on tiny things – the feather’s on a humming bird, the leaves on the new sprouts of mint in the garden, etc.

As I worked my way through the beads, I covered sounds (ocean waves, running water, wind in the leaves, etc.), scents (roses, a field in the sun, etc.) and even places I’ve been (Bandolier Canyon, the Davis Mountains, etc.).

For the last several sets of beads, I focused on simply breathing, slow and deep. I listened. No, I didn’t hear anything in particular but I hadn’t asked anything. I was just grateful for the quiet.

Not that this is always how I use my beads. Sometimes, I run through the Prayer of St. Francis, reciting a line of his prayer for one bead and then thinking of an application here and now for the next bead. Sometimes I pray for the families that I know who are in need. Each family gets a set of beads, with a specific request per bead.

The thing that I’ve come to realize is that the beads aren’t a grading system. There isn’t a single right way to pray with them. They simply help me to focus and slow down so that I spend some necessary time with the God who is more than I can wrap my mind around.



Have a Mary Little Christmas

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