How God Speaks into Our Everyday
By Janet Holm McHenry
Hear Him Louder Essay Series: Janet's Story
I immediately turned in the Walmart aisle, only to realize that child’s voice was that of a teenaged girl dressed in basketball sweats from a Reno-area high school. I chuckled at my response. It has been years since my kids had called for me with a hopeful pile of clothes in their arms.
But that moment’s vignette served to call their names to mind in prayer. Perhaps God had set up that mom-daughter scene for me to pray for them. So, I started with the oldest and then wandered through the mental aisles of married spouses and grandkids as I completed my shopping.
Many years ago I started the practice of prayerwalking in my little town in the Sierra Valley in northeast California. Loyalton is the only incorporated city in the only county in the state without a single stoplight. We have more cattle than people, and traffic jams only occur when ranchers move their cattle down the road.
There was a lot of my-ness in my initial prayers as I walked. My kids. My marriage. My job as a high school English teacher. But that all changed one dark, wee-hours morning when I saw a young single dad turn over his blanketed bundle to the daycare supervisor on the sidewalk. The little girl in the blanket said, “Bye, Daddy. Love you.”
I knew right then that God had me walking less for the my-ness of my prayers but more for the needs of others.
So, I opened my eyes to the needs around me and began interceding for the business owners, folks in homes, loggers heading into the woods, commuters driving to Reno an hour away, and others. My walking and praying became prayerwalking, and God began to show me that wherever I am there is a reason for prayer.
Those reasons show up in various ways, such as my Walmart encounter. One late afternoon I headed out for a walk, and while I typically head downtown, I sensed God’s nudge to turn toward the schools. One block later I knew why. At the first intersection my friend Megan slowed and stopped for a chat. Just two months into her new job as high school principal, she had put in a full day testing students who potentially had been exposed to Covid.
Because there are just 150 students in our school, we have no nurse available, and she is the only administrator. And while she tried to laugh off the weight of her responsibilities, clearly the burdens were weighing her down. So, as she said goodbye, I began praying for her, then the other staff as I also circled the school.
More often I’m finding Godwinks in my everyday, and I more clearly sense his direction and his presence. Here are four ways that happens:
1 | Centering. Each morning I start with God’s Word. I grab my breakfast and head for my office, where I open my Bible to read a couple chapters in my read-through-the-Bible plan. Every day I ask God to show me his word for others and me. Today it was from John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” So today I’ve been watching as God brings the contrasts of light and darkness in the storm clouds blowing across our mountain valley—just one way I look for God to center me in his Word and how it can play out during my day.
2 | Looking. Prayerwalking has trained me to be alert to the needs around me. I somewhat jokingly say I have prayerwalking eyes, whether I am intentionally walking or just observing life from wherever I am. I was recently waiting for a flight in an airport when I saw a mom of three children ages about five and under. My first human reaction was, Oh boy, this flight is going to be noisy.
Then when we boarded the plane and they sat across the aisle, I realized God had put them into the next hours of my life for the purpose of prayer. Those children slept the whole way, and the mom even got a few winks herself. As we look at folks and attempt to put ourselves in their shoes, God will give us insights into their needs, so that we can pray for them.
3 | Listening. Jesus was a great listener. He asked probing questions that got to the heart of the matter and then listened. His response to theirs always met their very specific need for healing or receiving grace, affirmation, and forgiveness. It’s interesting that the longest conversation between Jesus and another person was with the Samaritan woman at the Sychar well (John 4:1-42). Jesus heard her basic need for acceptance, love, and salvation between the lines of her conversation.
As someone who manages several prayer groups, I often get requests from people who want to hear from God. Very few of us live completely isolated lives. We’ve been planted into families, neighborhoods, churches, and workplaces. When I was a teacher, I heard conversations that alerted me to my students’ needs, which sometimes needed follow-up action and care. Jesus said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!” (Matthew 11:15 NLT). Sometimes I find myself so immersed in my own agenda that I miss the needs of those around me, but I can pray to be more attuned to what’s being said when I am with others.
4 | Expecting. A recovering naysayer, I now try to go into a day with an expectant focus. Instead of fretting about my to-do list, I can simply pray, “I’m looking up, God!” With that simple prayer my attitude shifts to one that allows God to wink at me with blessings I might otherwise have missed or avenues that will redirect my steps to a better way.
God can speak into my everyday practices. I simply need to shift my focus from myself to him.
Photo credit: Unsplash, Martina Picciau.
The Hear Him Louder Essay Series is a guest writer series where God's daughters share their stories of hearing God’s whispers in their every day. It’s meant to serve as an encouragement for the times when God feels far and seems quiet. When we read each other’s stories of how He meets us, it reminds and reassures us that He is near. May this series be an invitation for us to listen for His voice together.
Don't miss any posts in this series! Subscribe to receive notifications for each new essay, posted every other Thursday. When you subscribe, you'll receive a link to a FREE five-day devotional (45 beautiful pages!) called, “Closer: Five Days to Hearing God Louder.” Each day features teaching on one posture and a guided journaling section to help us practice taking steps toward hearing God louder in our every day.
Learn more about each of these five postures:
1 | Seek: If I Seek God, Will I Really Find Him?
2 | Know: Will God Speak, Even to Me?
3 | Expect: Can I Expect to Hear God?
4 | Listen: How Do I Listen for God?
5 | Connect: Is God Really Right Here?
New to this series? Check out the rest of the series!
Interested in contributing to the Hear Him Louder Essay Series? The call for submissions opens twice a year. To submit an essay outside of those windows, contact me.
Janet McHenry is a national speaker and the author of 24 books—six on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. (Linked below!)
The creator of an online Teachable course called Prayer School, she loves hosting writers for the Sierra Valley Writers Retreat and coaching folks who want to get unstuck and move forward with their lives instead. Find her on Instagram, Facebook and at her website.